Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

"Sorrow's springs are the same" : synoeciosis in the poetry of Alfred Tennyson and Gerard Manley Hopkins

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  • Tennyson and Hopkins scholarship is dominated by a focus on antithetical dichotomies. Tennyson's speakers are fractured selves focused on the gap between matter and spirit, faith and reason, solitude and community. Likewise, Hopkins' doubled vocation as priest and poet is presented as a contradiction to the point that the transition from his early nature sonnets to his later terrible sonnets is seen as analogous of that conflict. However, both poets tend to represent contraries through the figure of synoeciosis rather than antithesis. Synoeciosis is the coupling of two contraries without the intention to oppose them. Rather than being a contradiction for its own sake, synoeciosis serves to illuminate a hidden truth, much like its parent figure, paradox. In this thesis, the poetry of Tennyson and Hopkins are read through the hermeneutic of synoeciosis, with the purpose of moving beyond dialectical thinking. Following Hopkins' writings on mystery and Giorgio Agamben's presentation of the influence of Messianic time on poetry, this thesis proposes that the Incarnation, as the coupling of the divine and human natures of Christ, is the pattern that influences all forms of doubling for these poets.
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