James Thomson's “Winter”: The Personification of Nature

Length: 1 Pages 353 Words

In the “Winter” section of The Seasons, James Thomson personifies Nature. The literary representation of Winter thereby becomes an investigation into cause and effect based on human characteristics. “Winter comes to rule” the year (1) like a leader who rules a country; it falls “oppressive o’er the world” (58). In the first section of “Winter,” the season is seen as a powerful “Father” (72) or “great Parent” (106) who has control over people, plants, and animals. In this sense, Thomson’s inves Continue...

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tigation into winter creates a hierarchical order in the natural world: Nature is a "King" (197). Nature must be investigated for all of its secrets. His list of historically great men suggests an ever-increasing amount of human knowledge. This "study" of Nature is best exemplified in the section beginning "What art thou, frost" (714). The oppression of people by Winter is then paralleled with "Oppression"tms iron rod" (380) in the political world. In this sense, "superstitious horror" (620) will be replaced with scientific knowledge; the chaos and oppression of Nature will dissolve like the winter snow. Significantly, in the structure of the poem, human enjoyment of winter (in the form of skates 769 and sleds 773) comes in the section immediately following the investigation of frost. In other words, Thomson retreats from the natural world to a "humanized" world (435) where he is untouched by Nature. Human invention and knowledge suddenly becomes more powerful than Nature. The poetic movement from the chaotic state of winter to a peaceful retreat for study, suggests that through increased knowledge people will eventually find a way to control Nature. Thomson moves from "the wild depth of winter" (425) to a "sheltered solitary scene" (429). Thomson thereby suggests that Nature"tms oppression, like political oppression, must be thoroughly investigated ("searchedInto the horrors" 360-61) and brought to an end. In "Winter," Thomson uses human attributes to describe Nature. Can Nature only be enjoyed once it is understood Thomson thereafter describes how the guns of the hunters "Worse than the season desolate the fields" (791).


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