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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

During the great decade Wordsworth wrote much poetry that is character-driven, creating not only The Pedlar, the character who becomes The Wanderer of The Excursion, but also The Old Cumberland Beggar, Peter Bell and Benjamin the Waggoner, and The Leech Gatherer and The Discharged Soldier. Wordsworth’s characters represent types. The titular figure of ‘The Old Cumberland Beggar’ exemplifies the homeless poor suffering the effects of enclosure and the Poor Laws, but his significance lies in evoking our sympathy. Similarly moral is the essence of the characters Peter Bell (1798) and Benjamin the Waggoner (1806). The most powerful and iconic characters are The Discharged Soldier of The Prelude and The Leech Gatherer of ‘Resolution and Independence’. These complex characters have grounding in reality with links to Dorothy’s journal and reflect the dire social circumstances of the times, but they also function as uncanny archetypes, projections of the poet’s own psyche.

Keywords: character, types, archetypes, sympathy, homeless, Peter Bell, Benjamin the Waggoner, the Leech-Gatherer, Discharged Soldier

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