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Identify Key Themes in 'The Prelude'

In this worksheet, students will learn about the key themes in 'The Prelude'.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise some key themes in Extract from 'The Prelude'?

 

You've come to the right place!

 

Thought bubble

 

To quickly recap: Written by William Wordsworth, the speaker (who is Wordsworth, himself) describes his relationship with nature, depicting how it has changed over the years. A past sublime experience is described (this refers to an awe-inspiringly grand experience- something large and amazing), which then causes the speaker's opinion on nature to change. In the case of this poem, Wordsworth's sublime experience evokes simultaneously a fear and awe of nature. The poem depicts a life-changing moment for Wordsworth, where he experiences his transformation from boy to man, after witnessing the power of nature.

 

The activity set-up will be quite straightforward. You'll get a quote- just identify the theme that you think is being presented.

 

 

 

 

It'll help if you write down whatever new or important information you learn along the way! 

Tick one key theme in the poem. 

 

Artificiality

Religion

Nature

Death

Fill in the blank in this sentence, with reference to the quote:

 

 

"...call it solitude, or blank desertion..."

 

This quote is near the end of the poem. Pick from one of these themes:

 

sexuality

childhood

solitude 

death

Artificiality

Religion

Nature

Death

Which of these quotes best shows the theme of memory?

 

 

"One summer evening (led by her) I found..."

"I struck and struck again"

"She was an elfin pinnace"

Write down one theme, out of the selection below, shown in the quote:

 

"...and growing still in stature the grim shape..."

- Comfort

- Power of nature

- Childhood

 

Write down one theme out of the selection below:

 

"Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point"

- Pride

- Nature

- Power

Which of these themes isn't present in the poem?

 

Sexuality

Pride

Memory

War

Nature

Have a go at matching the quote to the theme/motif.

 

Column A

Column B

"...lustily, I dipped my oars"
Power of nature
"...for many days, my brain, worked with a dim and...
Solitude
"A huge peak, black and huge"
Memory
"There hung a darkness, call it solitude"
Sexuality

Write down one theme/motif out of the selection below which you think is presented in the quote:

 

 "..lustily I dipped my oars into the silent lake"

 

- Unhappiness

- Sexuality

- Death

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the quote. 

 

 

"With trembling oars I turned"

 

- Fear

- Sexuality

- Love

- Romance

Last one! 

 

Write down what you think is one important/key theme in the poem.

 

 

 

On a sheet of paper, write down why you think this is the most important/key theme. This'll come in handy for the evaluation activity!

 

 

  • Question 1

Tick one key theme in the poem. 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Nature
EDDIE SAYS
The theme of nature is huge in the poem! More specifically, the theme of nature's power is very dominant in the poem. It's a running motif (a recurring theme in a poem).
  • Question 2

Fill in the blank in this sentence, with reference to the quote:

 

 

"...call it solitude, or blank desertion..."

 

This quote is near the end of the poem. Pick from one of these themes:

 

sexuality

childhood

solitude 

death

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Solitude refers to the state of being alone. Near the end of the poem, the theme of solitude starts becoming quite apparent. We start to see the speaker reflect on his experience, and describe his solitude as a result of experiencing the power of nature.
  • Question 3

Which of these quotes best shows the theme of memory?

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
"One summer evening (led by her) I found..."
EDDIE SAYS
A lot of the poem could be used to back up the theme of memory. However, out of the three quotes, the correct one is; "one summer evening..." because it stresses that the poem is about the past. It's not happening to Wordsworth now- we know this because a) Wordsworth is the speaker and b) the poem is in the past tense. Wordsworth uses imagery and personification to get his ideas of the sublime and nature across to us. These techniques illustrate how powerful the speaker's memory is, as he can remember such vivid details, even as they happened in the past.
  • Question 4

Write down one theme, out of the selection below, shown in the quote:

 

"...and growing still in stature the grim shape..."

- Comfort

- Power of nature

- Childhood

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Power of nature
EDDIE SAYS
This quote emphasises the power of nature. The speaker seems to be very scared and intimidated. Look at the language used to present the mountain as intimidating and powerful.
  • Question 5

Write down one theme out of the selection below:

 

"Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point"

- Pride

- Nature

- Power

CORRECT ANSWER
Pride
EDDIE SAYS
Pride is quite a strange theme in the poem, and not as apparent (so don't be worried if you got this question wrong!). The theme of pride is more to do with the overall pride of mankind, in their arrogant attitude towards nature. In the poem, the speaker's pride has been shaken slightly. Mankind isn't as intimidating or long-lasting as nature.
  • Question 6

Which of these themes isn't present in the poem?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
War
EDDIE SAYS
War isn't really apparent in the poem!
  • Question 7

Have a go at matching the quote to the theme/motif.

 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

"...lustily, I dipped my oars"
Sexuality
"...for many days, my brain, work...
Memory
"A huge peak, black and huge"
Power of nature
"There hung a darkness, call it s...
Solitude
EDDIE SAYS
In being able to link certain quotes to certain themes, you will be able to revise both details and gain a thematic overview of the poem. It also aids your analysis, in that you'll be able to name a theme and zoom in on it supporting with a quote! Have fun with it and be creative in your analysis and interpretation of what you think Wordsworth is trying to present.
  • Question 8

Write down one theme/motif out of the selection below which you think is presented in the quote:

 

 "..lustily I dipped my oars into the silent lake"

 

- Unhappiness

- Sexuality

- Death

CORRECT ANSWER
Sexuality
EDDIE SAYS
This quote depicts the theme of sexuality. Look at the adverb "lustily"- doesn't it imply something sexual is going on, as if Wordsworth is using nature to show the transformation of him going from boy to man. Nature acts as a catalyst for sexual growth. Wordsworth could also be using nature to symbolise a sexual encounter between himself and an unnamed woman. Up to you to decide what the sexuality in the poem means!
  • Question 9

Write down one theme out of the selection below which you think is presented in the quote. 

 

 

"With trembling oars I turned"

 

- Fear

- Sexuality

- Love

- Romance

CORRECT ANSWER
Fear
EDDIE SAYS
Wordsworth is scared here. The use of the verb "trembling" conveys his fear of nature.
  • Question 10

Last one! 

 

Write down what you think is one important/key theme in the poem.

 

 

 

On a sheet of paper, write down why you think this is the most important/key theme. This'll come in handy for the evaluation activity!

 

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Power of nature
Nature
Memory
Power
Solitude
Imagination
Pride
Sexuality
EDDIE SAYS
If you choose a quote that isn't on this list, that's okay, as long as you can find at least two quotes which back up this theme. If you can't, then it's probably not a theme but a one time reference you're thinking of. Remember, always justify why you have picked certain quotes. How do you think it links to the theme?
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