Comparison of Alexander Pope in the 18th Century and Wordsworth in the 19th Century

Wordsworth and Alexander Pope are poets of different time frame though at some point they had a similar opinion in the message they conveyed in their poetic works.However, they had different ideologies resulting from the era in which each of them composed their poetic work. Alexander Pope represents the neoclassical writers of the 18th century while William Wordsworth stands for the 19th-century romanticism poets. In some instances, the 18th-century neoclassicism overlaps into the 19th-century poetry (M, 2015). This essay analyses the concerns of both writers as well as examines the similarities and differences in tone of their poetic artwork.

Concerns Addressed By Both

Both Wordsworth and Alexander had a similar concern though presented differently because of the different eras in which they wrote their poetry work. They both drew their ideas from nature since they believed that nature has a unique way of expressing pleasure to its audience. Nature, therefore, provided them with the platform from which to get ideas expressed in various ways. In their poems, for example, they both fought against social injustice. Pope passed his ideas in a general way while Wordsworth’s were from the individual point of view. In his poem, the “Rape of the Lock” Pope elevated expression and style to evaluate human behavior and societal conducts of his time. He viewed the world through the intellect. Wordsworth on the other hand in his poem ‘the Prelude ‘talks about a revolution that will finally bring independence (Stephanie, 2014). In his poem, he hoped that the revolution would spread to the entire world starting from France. Although they lived in different epochs, their general view of the world was largely influenced by nature.

Differences in Their Subject Matter

Due to the difference in era as well as the ideology their poetical works are different. The difference majorly emanates from the factors that influenced their works. For example in his poem “In the Essay on Man,” Pope describes how nature relates to society and earth while Wordsworth in his work “In the World is Too Much with Us” looks at the natural sublime. From the above differences, it is evident that the neoclassical writers abandoned sovereignty as they adopted traditional rules in writing while romanticism writers emphasized freedom. For passionate writers, poetry is a creation of emotions and feelings (Snehal, 2016). These, therefore, placed sensations higher than thoughts and intelligence. Another notable difference given their different times in history is the significance given to diction. In neoclassicism, importance directed to the articulation whereas in romanticism it was less important.


In the poem, “Tintern Abby” Wordsworth starts by describing a man who decides to revisit the banks of River Wye to recuperate his experience. At this juncture, the poet’s tone is solicitous and calm. The calmness of the water of the water depicts a mood of peace. While in the fifth stanza the peaceful mood changes to a sad tone. From his acceptance, it is clear that he is no longer the same innocent person (Baxley, 2011). On the other hand, Alexander Pope`s poem, “The Rape of the Lock” begins with an amusement tone. In the rest of the poem, he establishes a mock heroic tone. He uses weak people to perform an important task. In comparison, Wordsworth tone is more realistic as compared to Pope`s tone that is satirical (Gradesaver, 2017).The tone of the poet is depicted by what the poets stand. For neo-classicists emphasis is on general societal behaviors whereas for romanticist the emphasis is on the individual.


Baxley, S. (2011, October 2). Tintern Abby. Retrieved from

Gradesaver. (2017). Pope`s Poems and Prose. Retrieved from The Rape of the Lock: Canto I Summary and Analysis:

M, W. (2015). Compare and Contrast 18th Century, Romantic Era, and Victorian era poetry. Enotes, 1-3.

Snehal, M. (2016). Difference Between Romanticism and Neoclassicism. Buzzle, 1.

Stephanie, F. (2014). The Romantics. Romanticism, 1-10.

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