Date of Award

Spring 1982

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Languages & Literature

Abstract

Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in Stratford, Essex, in 1844, the first-born child to Kate and Manley Hopkins. He attended Highgate boarding school in Essex and because of his excellence in academics was awarded a scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. While attending Balliol, he converted to Catholicism, abandoning his family's Anglican faith. Two years after his graduation from Balliol, in 1868, he entered a Jesuit novitiate, and was from that time until his death in 1889 a member of St. Ignatius' Society of Jesus.Hopkins wrote poetry intermittently throughout his life. He burnt the poetry he had written during his school years when he entered the Jesuit novitiate, and did not resume writing poetry until seven years later. He did then continue to write poetry until his death, but he was not a prolific writer. His poetic output was minimal; he wrote a total of seventy-five complete poems. Only forty-seven of these poems were written after he became a Jesuit; it is this small collection which has attracted the overwhelming critical and popular response that Hopkins has achieved since his poems were first published in 1918. The reason for the overwhelming reception of and attention given to Hopkins' poetry is the intensity of the thought expressed in the works. Though the number of poems he produced is scarce, the works are packed with meaning. Much of the meaning found in Hopkins' poetry is found in the expression of the theological tenets which he held important. One of the central theological tenets expressed in Hopkins' poetry is the Ignatian statement of man's created end, which is to contribute to the greater glory of God. In his theological writings, Hopkins stated that man fulfills his created end through the integration of the voluntas ut natura and the arbitrium. These Latin terms are Hopkins' names for two different wills contained within a human individual's being, the affective will and the elective will. Hopkins believed that through the integration of these two volitional faculties man could achieve the fulfillment of his created end, and contribute to the greater glory of God. Hopkins ordered his life, and his poetic expression, under this belief.

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