Chapter 3 explores the interactions and tensions between The Excursion’s various images of rooting. More specifically, it considers the idea of rootedness in the Woodsman and the Oswald passages in Book VII, asks how this idea is impinged upon by two ironic tree images in Book VIII, and examines the ways in which it is finally re-embodied, again through a tree image, in the Wanderer’s cosmopolitan vision in Book IX. These images revolve around Wordsworth’s portrayal of the major characters of The Excursion in arboreal terms. The presences of trees in The Excursion covey a nostalgia for the ‘sylvan scenes’ of Eden, but they also witness and commemorate deaths and sufferings, which are integral to the post-lapsarian condition. Through images of rooting, the characters offer the Solitary a rooted vision of post-lapsarian reality where paradisal traces may still be found. This rooted reality is defined against post-1789 Britain’s political and socio-economic ‘Mutability’, which is also (but contrarily) figured through arboreal images. Using various cultural texts, particularly The Prelude, this chapter provides a visual etymology reaching back to the English Civil War to reveal the rich meanings of trees in The Excursion, as well as their contributions to the construction of the central arguments.
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