Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Richard Kaye

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


Melancholy, Poetry, Ruins, Wordsworth


The concept of melancholia as it pertains to Romantic poets is often relegated to its simpler meaning of gloomy or depressed. This work provides an analysis of the motifs of melancholia in the work William Wordsworth as an allegory of the artist's relationship to their art. I am interested in melancholia as the tension between the melancholic's acute awareness of his temporal actuality and the grave desire for transcendence as a poet. Operating within this dialectic fractures Wordsworth's interiority as he struggles to ground himself in both realms. This dialectic is most often reconciled when the poet finds a way to assimilate within the liminal space between these two realms. The possibility of this assimilation is symbolized in the lasting vestiges of humanity within nature: Ruins.