An Analysis of William Wordsworth's "The Female Vagrant"

1619 Words Oct 1st, 2007 7 Pages
In Wordsworth's narrative poem 'The Female Vagrant,' a British female vagrant who grew up in the country narrates her plight which took place during the later part of the eighteenth century when Britain was under urbanization, industrialization, and fighting in the American war for independence. Her plight was a result of the effects which these above mentioned events which were taking place in Britain had on her rural family life. This essay will explore how in the poem, 'The Female Vagrant' Wordsworth's portrays the effects of these events on rural family life.

Wordsworth portrays the effects of urbanization on rural family life as horrible. At the start, the female vagrant's life and her father's was like a happy dream; "One field, a
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All perished; all, in one remorseless year,Husband and children! One by one, by swordAnd ravenous plague, all perished. Every tearDried up, despairing, desolate, on boardA British ship I waked, as from a trance restored. (127-135)The only peace she ever knew afterwards was when she was in the midst of the dark broad empty sea, on her voyage back to Britain. The nature of the sea was much similar to the nature of her life at that moment. She says it 'seemed to bring a joy to my despair' (143). It removed the reality of her situation from her mind; 'And oft, robbed of my perfect mind, I thought / At last my feet a resting-place had found' (172-173). But her peace could not last for long. She eventually reached her destination; 'and homeless near a thousand homes I stood / and near a thousand tables pines, and wanted food' (179-180).

The vagrant's misery took another direction in the city. She had to do with sleeping outside and learn to beg for food. This was not easy for a woman who grew up in a Christian family. Her experience of and her interactions with the well to do city people broke her heart further. It proved to her that her upbringing did not prepare her for the cold facts of life. The city people and their looks; 'looks where common kindness had no part,' (204) and even when they offered some service, it was with 'careless cruelty' (205). Help for the