The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals

The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals Analysis

Dorothy Wordsworth kept thorough journals during her residence with her brother, William, at Grasmere and briefly in Alfoxden. As her only recorded writing, these journals offer unique insight into William's personal life as well as how Dorothy experienced her brother's career. The two remain extremely close throughout the years, but this period of co-habitation claims a special intimacy in Dorothy's telling. Dorothy's narrative sharply deteriorates after William moves in with his new bride, having lost her purpose for writing.

Fans of William Wordsworth's work will appreciate the peculiar insight of Dorothy's journals. She relates signposts of events about which William writes, such as the leech gatherer of "Resolution and Independence." Dorothy's records, however, pertain to the practical more than the poetic. She records what the couple eats, where they walk, who they meet, and what they're reading. As a daily journal, her writing is oddly devoid of personal expression. She keeps her own opinions and feelings out of the text in favor of presenting a nearly scientific record of her and her brother's lives during this period.

Much has been speculated regarding the relationship between Dorothy and William. While some suspect a nearly incestuous romantic relationship, they largely ignore the nature of Dorothy's dependence upon William. She lost her mother when she was six, meaning she was passed along from various relatives and friends until this season, when she's twenty-one. William offers Dorothy her first stable home, supported by his love and leadership. His marriage marks the end of the happiest period of Dorothy's young life. This perspective allows Dorothy's despair at his marriage to adapt the dimension of fear. In William's absence, Dorothy is once more an orphan. Although she's now an adult, she reverts to the insecurities and relative instability of her adolescence.

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