Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Brian John




In retreat notes made six months prior to his death, Gerard Manley Hopkins referred to his "outward" and "inward" service. Hopkins' "outward" service as a Jesuit was the visible manifestation of his "inward" one which he considered to be "more important." This thesis investigates the nature of those two services and defines Hopkins' "inward" service as the development of the poet's Christian Gnosticism, the basis for his mythopoesis. Although this hypothesis has already been forwarded, new information has emerged to strengthen the theory. Gnostic manuscripts discovered in the eighteenth century were subsequently made available to British scholars in 1848 and in 1851. Various aspects of his poetry strongly suggest that Hopkins incorporated material from these manuscripts into his writing. Thus, Hopkins' Christian Gnostic sources are wider than previously supposed. It will be demonstrated that all aspects of Hopkins' mythopoesis lend themselves to the development of gnosis. Sources for the poet's imagery are drawn from over two thousand years of Christian gnostic sources. This establishes a very real sense of tradition within Hopkins' mythopoesis. Inscapes of Christ as Alpha and Omega permeate the poetry and the process of enlightenment whereby one perceives these is vigorously depicted. The sequential phases in the developing personal relationship of the Gnostic to his creator-Redeemer constitute the ongoing strain in Hopkins' mythopoesis. In this strain he reveals a theology which presages the current trends in twentieth-century theology. The poetry's dynamic energies and movement patterns reveal the means by which Hopkins compels the reader to participate in the process of increasing enlightenment. In its features which combine tradition, revelation, and instruction, Hopkins' mythopoesis constitutes, in effect, new scripture.

McMaster University Library

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