Hippies of the 18th century

For me, “The Tables Turned” by William Wordsworth is represented in Théodore Gericault’s Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct. On a superficial level, the painting shows how one should immerse themselves in nature and enjoy the world around them, rather than live their lives through the guidance of books and science as noted by Wordsworth. For instance, in “The Tables Turned”, the speaker says, “Up! Up! My friend, and quit your books” because “Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife”. The speaker notes how living life and learning about life through books is not the right way to gain knowledge, they must “hear the woodland linnet…there’s more of wisdom in it”. It seems that for the reader, learning is an experience that cannot be encompassed through books and science. We must learn from nature, something that has not been interpreted or created by man. We must reach our own interpretations of the world by going out into the world itself rather than reading about what other people have to say about it, for “one impulse from a vernal wood may teach you more of man, of moral evil and of good, than all the sages can”. I feel that the same idea is invoked in Gericault’s painting. The men in the painting do not seem to care about anything that is going on around them, they are just swimming the water naked. They have stripped away from science and knowledge that would find being naked in the wild as something absurd. The one who is clothed, is not fully clothed as if they are the person the speaker of the poem is trying to convince to be one with nature. The color of the sun is very warm, indicating it is a late part of the day that I often find to be the most peaceful time of the day. It seems that time does not exist in the painting, for the people do not even seem to care that the day is almost at an end, they are still enjoying their time outside.

-Nancy Sanchez

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One thought on “Hippies of the 18th century

  1. The nude men swimming in the painting does show a connection to basic human instincts to connection with nature, but does it go as far as to rejection of science? I don’t fully agree that there is a rejection of science due to the fact that the one of main subject in this painting is an aqueduct. An aqueduct is an example of human achievement in science, where humanity sees nature and utilizes it to their advantage. Instead of a rejection, could you not say, that through science humanity is able to use nature to better their civilization, their role in nature, and nature as a whole.

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