Connection between William Cowper’s life and his poem “Castaway”

4 Mar

                William Cowper had a miserable life in which he attempted suicide three times. Due to his partial insanity William Cowper retired to the countryside where he met John Newton, probably the most detrimental figure in his life. Cowper suffered three breakdowns in the countryside, and in 1796 his patron’s who took care of him died leaving Cowper alone to deal with his insanity. This drove Cowper further insane and his belief in predestination and his damnation by God worsened the situation.

                “Castaway” was a poem written by William Cowper after the death of his patron and after heavy influence from John Newton. The thematic idea of the poem is abandonment, and it is refers to Cowper’s life. Presumably the man who thrown overboard is William Cowper and those who do not change the course of the boat are his patron’s and relatives who took care of him. William Cowper feels betrayed, because no man should be abandoned with his condition. This is expressed when the poet writes, “Deserted, and his friends so nigh.” In addition in many lines of the poem Cowper refers to his damned fate. “When such a destined wretch as I,” is a line which shows that Cowper truly believed if he would part from this world he would certainly part to hell. While taking into account that Cowper was in his mid 60s when writing “Castaway”, one can clearly identify why Cowper has chosen to express his opinions about his abandonment and damnation. At this point in his life Cowper demons had become more real than ever.

                The “Castaway” is a poem mostly dedicated to the later stage of Cowper’s life when he was abandoned by everyone and left alone to deal with his partial insanity. It speaks about the misery caused by his abandonment and damnation.


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