UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hopkins' inscape as illuminated by a consideration of the cinquecento artistic tradition and the work of Michelangelo Millard, Mary Janice


This thesis attempts to define Hopkins' use of the word "inscape" in terms of a cultural tradition in which he shares. Inscape is basically a concern for ordering experience in both its temporal and eternal manifestations. Each individual is part of a vast, harmonious whole wherein the parts are related to one another and confront one another with their unique individuality. The order thus envisaged is upheld by God, who sustains relationships and reveals Himself in the communication between man and his world. The order that Hopkins encounters is the same order working through the artistic movement encompassed by the terms Renaissance, Mannerism, and Baroque. The Renaissance artist thought that man could become a part, of that order, using it to reach God, by means of the intellectual contemplation of beauty. The Mannerist challenged his oredecessors' logic, suggesting that man's problems were such as to impede the Neo-Platonic progression: if God is to be reached through the beautiful, the individual who cannot penetrate an ugly reality to ultimate perfection, who cannot rest content with a hypothetical ideal world, will fail to find peace or assurance. The Baroque artist admits the Mannerist's list of grievances, but responds with force and plenitude, believing that the emotional impact of a work of art can carry the will in a positive direction. The Baroque artist feels that God is very present in the material world and may be apprehended there. The basic order includes that material world as a necessary and lasting part of God consistant and continuous revelation of Himself. Michelangelo uses the term concetto much as Hopkins uses the word inscape, though more directly in terms of his art. Part of the ordered whole may be grasped and communicated in the harmonious ordering of the sculpted marble block. Michelangelo achieves his goal by working with Renaissance structures and the Manneristic breakdown of those structures. He resolves the Mannerist's conflicts not by turning to Baroque, but by returning to an expression of the Gothic yearnings of an earlier age. Hopkins is ultimately a Baroque poet, but the Renaissance ordering that must precede the Baroque sensibility is clearly evident in a large portion of his work, as is the disruption of order inherent in Mannerism. What Michelangelo sees as a threat, however, Hopkins sees as a trial of his faith in both God and this world. Michelangelo's retreat, however, serves to clarify Hopkins determination not to retreat. Michelangelo eventually loses the ability to project a concetto, and therefore endeavours to do something less concrete with his medium. Hopkins continually loses his instressing power, but constantly seeks to relate to the wholeness that he knows surrounds him. By postulating a relationship with his environment that demands an ability to meet that environment with an emotional as well as an intellectual stability, he has left himself in a position where often it is only volitional effort that will carry him through any estrangement from his environment. For the sake of his own inscape, as person, priest, and poet, he commits himself to making that effort.

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