Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sonnet on Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress

One of the several definitions of the word sensibility given by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is: awareness of and responsiveness toward something (as emotion in another). Although I am not writing my blog on To Sensibility, I believe that word sensibility is pertinent to grasping Sonnet on Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress.  In displaying his response to seeing Helen Maria Williams weep, Wordsworth uses incredibly emotional and descriptive words. Thrilling vein, swimming eyes, delicious pain, loaded heart, and pause of life are a few examples.    His response struck me as natural and instinctive. The combination of his unrefined sensibility and the physical portrayal of it evoked a connected feeling in me. As the reader, I felt a bond to Wortsworth's sentimental sensibility. Wordsworth evoked an emotional response in me; however, I do not feel he took the "easy way out". By easy way out I mean I do not feel he tried to produce emotions in his readers through vulnerability. Wordsworth did not manipulate his readers' emotions. He did not simply throw something sentimental that would create an emotional response in anyone on a piece of paper. A connection that I was able to make through art would be Norman Rockwell's Sunset and Frida Kahlo's Without Hope. When looking at Sunset you see two young children cuddling before a sunset with a puppy behind them. Without thought the viewer feels delightfully cheerful. If Without hope were placed before a viewer one might have to think about her history. Kahlo developed polio as a young child, was crippled from a serious bus accident later on, and then struggled with multiple miscarriages. Even if one did not know her history, the question of why she is displaying her feeling of hopelessness in that way arises. 


Steve Jones said...

Interesting. So the Kahlo is not (negatively) sentimental in the way that the Rockwell is, because it's based on the artist's suffering? Or because you have to know something to get it? I'm not quite sure of the point of your comparison.

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