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Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Presentation of Key Themes in 'The Prelude'

In this worksheet, students will be tested on their evaluation of themes in 'The Prelude'. Students will be able to practise why certain words are used and, the impact of these words on the theme and tone of the poem.

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Want to revise your theme evaluation skills in Extract from 'The Prelude'?

 

(Hint, yes you do! Double hint, you've come to the right place to do this!)

 

 

Thought bubble

 

In this activity, you'll be able to practise your evaluating skills concerning key themes in Extract from 'The Prelude'. This activity should allow you to practice some key skills in detecting how the writer develops key themes and presents them effectively. This is a mixed activity some of your answers will need to be manually marked!

 

 

An evaluation template:

 

Identifying the theme i.e. In Extract from 'The Prelude', Wordsworth presents the theme of solitude.

Example i.e: At the end of the poem, Wordsworth writes that he feels "a darkness, call it solitude or blank desertion" hanging over his thoughts. This seems to be an effect of his transformation from boy to man, catalysed (aided/helped/transformed) by nature, which is a driving force in the poem.

Effect i.e. Wordsworth uses a semantic field of solitude, near the end of the poem, to back up this theme. Words such as "solitude", "desertion" and "serious" alongside the repetition of personal pronoun "my" really emphasises Wordsworth's feelings of being alone and isolated from the world. 

Linking the theme to the poem as a whole i.e. The theme of solitude comes at the end of the poem, which really reinforces Wordsworth's transformation as if contrasts with the more pleasant and lighthearted language at the beginning of the poem. Words such as "pleasure", "sparkling" and "proud" transform into words such as "dim", "grave" and "darkness" which showcase Wordsworth's shift inward.

 

 

Don't worry about making your evaluations super complex and don't get too intimidated by the example up there. It's more sophisticated so that you have a super example to look up to and work towards!

 

Hopefully (fingers crossed) this makes evaluating themes easier to understand. If it's still tricky, don't worry because the activity will be filled with helpful hints and explanations that you can jot down as you do it. 

 

Remember, take your time, it's not a race!

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

 

 

Evaluate the theme of sexuality in this quote.

 

Fill in the blanks with the correct words from below. Don't use quotation marks when filling in the blanks.

 

lustily

dipped

adverb

symbolise

metaphor

simile

silent

transformation

Now, evaluate the theme of nature in the poem.

 

Don't worry about quotation marks when you're filling the blanks.

 

mature

young

powerful

transform

same

"Straight I unloosed her chain..."

 

Which of the two devices below are present.

(Implied) sexuality

Personification

Imagery of marriage

Oxymoron

Name one theme/motif in the poem which can only be associated with Wordsworth (the speaker).

 

Transformation

Nature

Power

Influence

Fairytale

"...with trembling oars I turned, and through the silent water stole my way..."

 

How might this quote present the theme of fear

 

1. The quote uses personification of the water as "silent" to show how scary it is.

2. The quote uses the present continuous verb "trembling" to emphasise Wordsworth's fear as something present and ongoing, even though the poem is relating a childhood memory. It brings the fear that Wordsworth felt to life; the memory becomes present and sensory.

3. The quote presents the theme of fear through the verb "trembling" but either nature or Wordsworth could be trembling, we have no way to know.

"One summer evening (led by her) I found a little boat tied to a willow tree".

 

 

Tick two ways that this quote expresses the theme of nature.

Nature is personified by Wordsworth, into a "her" who leads him to his destiny

Nature is presented as a woman who has sex with Wordsworth

Nature is a driving force in the quote

Nature seems to be the active force in the poem, and Wordsworth is presented as passive, being led by an unknown force

"...moved slowly through the mind by day, and were a trouble to my dreams..."

 

Evaluate the theme of transformation

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer-

What can be inferred about the word "trouble"

What can be inferred about Wordsworth mentioning "day" and "dreams"? What do both words imply about Wordsworth's state of mind?

What can be inferred about Wordsworth's feelings?

"Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on; leaving behind her still...small circles glittering idly in the moon..."

 

 

Evaluate the theme of nature in the quote.

 

Think about:

 

The way nature is presented- positive/negative. Why?

Which part of the poem this quote comes from- beginning or end?

The significance of why nature is presented in this way.

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

Pick one theme which remains constant/unchanging throughout the poem

 

1. Transformation

2. The power of nature

3. Sexuality

 

You get one mark for identifying the correct theme.

Last question! You're almost finished.

 

Pick one other theme which links to the theme of solitude

 

 Give one reason which explains why solitude- and the theme you've picked- connect.

 

1. Marriage

2. Transformation

3. Love

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

  • Question 1

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

 

 

Evaluate the theme of sexuality in this quote.

 

Fill in the blanks with the correct words from below. Don't use quotation marks when filling in the blanks.

 

lustily

dipped

adverb

symbolise

metaphor

simile

silent

transformation

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The sexuality that's present in the poem is a central theme. But, it's a little trickier to analyse, because it's implicit throughout the poem. Implicit is when something is implied but not outright stated- which makes sense when we consider the theme of sexuality in this poem- Wordsworth never really explicitly has sex with anyone. But the language he uses suggests that some kind of sexual exchange has occurred. The reason for this seems clear when we look at sex as a catalyst (a point of change) for Wordsworth. So, Wordsworth is using sexual language as a metaphor for the way nature transforms him into a man and poet.
  • Question 2

Now, evaluate the theme of nature in the poem.

 

Don't worry about quotation marks when you're filling the blanks.

 

mature

young

powerful

transform

same

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Have a read of the summary of the blanks you've filled and see if you agree with the points made- if so, jot them down. If not, form your own points backed by quotes!
  • Question 3

"Straight I unloosed her chain..."

 

Which of the two devices below are present.

CORRECT ANSWER
(Implied) sexuality
Personification
EDDIE SAYS
The two devices present are implied sexuality (the adjective "unloosened" paired with the pronoun "she" really indicates a sexual awakening) and personification!
  • Question 4

Name one theme/motif in the poem which can only be associated with Wordsworth (the speaker).

 

Transformation

Nature

Power

Influence

Fairytale

CORRECT ANSWER
Transformation
EDDIE SAYS
The one theme that relates, solely, to Wordsworth is transformation. His perspective and view of the word transforms from pleasant to fearful.
  • Question 5

"...with trembling oars I turned, and through the silent water stole my way..."

 

How might this quote present the theme of fear

 

1. The quote uses personification of the water as "silent" to show how scary it is.

2. The quote uses the present continuous verb "trembling" to emphasise Wordsworth's fear as something present and ongoing, even though the poem is relating a childhood memory. It brings the fear that Wordsworth felt to life; the memory becomes present and sensory.

3. The quote presents the theme of fear through the verb "trembling" but either nature or Wordsworth could be trembling, we have no way to know.

CORRECT ANSWER
2
EDDIE SAYS
This was a tricky question, but a valuable one, that has got you thinking a little bit about the way that certain quotations represent ideas/attitudes/themes. Hopefully, it also got you thinking about the way themes bounce off each other and how they're presented, not just from the speaker's point of view, but by the language use- in this case, Wordsworth uses the present continuous verb "trembling" to signify his fear (as the pronoun "I" follows, we know that it is Wordsworth who is trembling as he manoeuvres the boat away from the mountains). The use of present continuous verbs in this poem is really significant because the poem is detailing a memory- so the verbs used bring this memory to the present. It makes the memory, and the fear that Wordsworth felt, more intense.
  • Question 6

"One summer evening (led by her) I found a little boat tied to a willow tree".

 

 

Tick two ways that this quote expresses the theme of nature.

CORRECT ANSWER
Nature is personified by Wordsworth, into a "her" who leads him to his destiny
Nature seems to be the active force in the poem, and Wordsworth is presented as passive, being led by an unknown force
EDDIE SAYS
Nature seems to be leading Wordsworth to his destiny, here, personified as "her". The female force is deliberately ambiguous (unknown or left for the reader to identify and speculate over). Some might say that the "her" is some kind of muse (a mythological figure who leads the poet to his inspirational discovery). One thing is certain- Wordsworth is definitely being led by something abstract, something with no body or name, but with an assigned gender "her" (which could explain the sexual imagery that comes later on in the poem, as if Wordsworth is coming to some kind of sexual climax with this unknown force!). Wordsworth clearly doesn't seem to place much emphasis on WHO the "her" is because he doesn't specify, identify, or bring "her" up in this extract. However, the significance of there being some feminine driving force which leads Wordsworth to his climactic moment seems to emphasise the concept of destiny. It also helps to emphasise Wordsworth as a figure who is destined to write epic poetry. Remember, this extract is just the beginning of a huge, long poem. Wordsworth is writing about the moment which transforms him from an immature, young child to a self-aware man- his transformation into a Romantic poet who focuses on the sublime effects of nature and the natural world.
  • Question 7

"...moved slowly through the mind by day, and were a trouble to my dreams..."

 

Evaluate the theme of transformation

- ​In this quote

- In the poem as a whole. 

 

There are three marks. Write more than three sentences in your answer.

 

Hint: think about these in your answer-

What can be inferred about the word "trouble"

What can be inferred about Wordsworth mentioning "day" and "dreams"? What do both words imply about Wordsworth's state of mind?

What can be inferred about Wordsworth's feelings?

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Every time you write an evaluation, try and make sure that you assess exactly what the writer is trying to convey and how this links to the poem as a whole. Transformation is an important theme in this poem because Wordsworth clearly undergoes a shift in mood and temperament. This shift really illustrates his progression from child to man (initiated and aided by sexual metaphor and innuendo so, hopefully, you can spot it and identify what it symbolises in a clear concise manner!). This shift is caused by a realisation of the influence, impact and important of nature. Wordsworth is writing about what caused him to begin writing Romantic poetry, explaining his focus on sublime and nature.
  • Question 8

"Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on; leaving behind her still...small circles glittering idly in the moon..."

 

 

Evaluate the theme of nature in the quote.

 

Think about:

 

The way nature is presented- positive/negative. Why?

Which part of the poem this quote comes from- beginning or end?

The significance of why nature is presented in this way.

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
This quote comes from near the beginning of the poem- significantly- before Wordsworth sees the mountain and undergoes his transformation. Early on in the poem, nature is presented (through Wordsworth's point of view) as idyllic, calm and beautiful (a feminine "her" places a delicate and dainty perspective on nature, not to mention the sexual language used to describe Wordsworth's relationship with nature).
  • Question 9

Pick one theme which remains constant/unchanging throughout the poem

 

1. Transformation

2. The power of nature

3. Sexuality

 

You get one mark for identifying the correct theme.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The power of nature is the unchanging theme in the poem! Have a read through and see how nature's power and influence is used to aid Wordsworth's transformation.
  • Question 10

Last question! You're almost finished.

 

Pick one other theme which links to the theme of solitude

 

 Give one reason which explains why solitude- and the theme you've picked- connect.

 

1. Marriage

2. Transformation

3. Love

 

There are two marks for two sentences.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
Think about which themes connect and bounce of each other- why do these themes connect and how is this important to the poem as a whole? So, transformation links to solitude because solitude is a direct cause of Wordsworth's realisation of the power of nature- look at the language used near the end of the poem, after Wordsworth undergoes his change from carefree boy to man- there's a newfound awareness of himself as alone and introspective. Poor guy!
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