The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals Themes

The Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals Themes

Encounters with Nature

Living in the country of Somerset, U.K., Dorothy devotes the majority of her journal to describing her various encounters with the countryside. She and William take daily walks in the country, not to mention cultivating the landscape of their own little property. Dorothy expresses a particular fascination with the various manifestations of weather. She fondly describes the changing of the seasons as well as how the light changes throughout the year. Since her life is simple, Dorothy observes the nuances of the world around her. Also, she devotes as much attention to the plants as she does to the animals -- fish, deer, birds, etc.


Dorothy and William fall into a perpetual daily routine. Their life is simple and relatively passive, their responsibilities being limited. After looking to meals and reading for sometime, they take daily walks and devote their afternoon leisure to exploration. Within this daily pattern, Dorothy writes with special appreciation about the most explicit details of their experiences. She notes each time they meet someone new and every time the weather changes. Although this repetitive pattern may strike the reader as boring, the manner by which Dorothy writes actually proves somewhat meditative and intimate. She's really welcoming her reader into her life, or at least her external experiences.


Since William spends some of his time writing, Dorothy is constantly in search of new sources of inspiration. She doesn't write anything other than the journals, but she has a voracious appetite for narrative. She welcomes every stranger, no matter how imposing, to stop and converse with her, recording their life stories in the text. These personal narratives provide variety and excitement to the text which otherwise would only appear at the end, when Dorothy's writing takes a more personal bent as William's marriage approaches. The respect and tenderness with which Dorothy treats these people shines through in the way she relates every detail of their lives.

Fraternal Affection

Although Dorothy never writes about her own feelings or thoughts concerning William, she describes her relationship to him through the record of their shared experiences. William sets the tone for their adventures, but Dorothy keeps him grounded and fed. She devotes herself to anticipating his every need, making their house into a real domestic paradise. Before this period of co-habitation with her brother, Dorothy had only lived with relatives, staying in any given home periodically. The stability which this new living situation provides stability in which Dorothy obviously thrives. She attributes her success and health to her brother, a situation which becomes painfully apparent when William gets engaged and moves out. In his absence, Dorothy's writing becomes scattered and despondent. She quickly reverts to patterns of adolescence in which she must have experienced a great deal of anxiety due to the constant moving and lack of stable role models.

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