Comparing Individuality and Transcendence in Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Joyce

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Individuality and Transcendence in Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Joyce

The development of the scientific method started a revolution in thought

that changed how people viewed the world. Scientists tested theories by

creating experiments and carefully observing the results. The importance

of scientific discoveries raised questions about the role of the observer.

According to Ralph Koster, the importance of observation in science led to

the rise of the individual and an awareness of subjectivity. Society

realized that the individual could determine the outcome of an experiment

and that people could interpret events differently depending on
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As people began

to experience reality as subjective, they became more isolated, and they

longed to connect with others. Transcendence shifted away from grace to a

process of joining with something outside of the self (Koster). In order

to experience God, people had to break through their own individuality.

Transcending the self became a central question for writers in the

Romantic, Victorian, and Modern eras. As they worked, their writing did

not advance in a linear progression, but more like a loop, traveling

forward and backward. As the loop traveled in reverse, writers drew from

the past, and as it went forward writers incorporated new ideas. New ideas

were needed, for as time progressed society became more complex.

During the Romantic era science and technology were expanding rapidly, but

did not dominate. Discoveries in electricity and mechanics made it

possible for the Industrial Revolution to begin in England around 1750,

but it was not in full swing until the Victorian era. In addition, the

French Revolution promoted individual freedom and filled people with the

idea of unlimited possibilities. Hence, the failure of the French

Revolution was disappointing to many English writers, including

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