Date of Award

9-1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Supervisor

Richard Morton

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis examines three poems, all of which challenged the prevailing tendency to idealize rural life in eighteenth-century poetry. Stephen Duck's The Thresher's Labour offers an account of rural life from the perspective of a thresher, and the "speaker" uses his unique perspective to demolish the pastoral myth that rural life was a life of ease and leisure. Oliver Goldsmith's The deserted Village contrasts an idealized version of the past with the intolerable present in order to emphasis the transformed nature of country life, as well as to critique the forces which caused the transformation. His gloomy account of contemporary village life challenges the deeply-rooted tendency to envision the countryside as an immutable retreat from urban corruption. George Crabbe's The Village attacks the pastoral tradition and the tendency to sentimentalize the plight of the poor by offering a harsh, unsentimental account of village life. Together these three poems constitute versions of eighteenth-century "anti-pastoral".

McMaster University Library

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