Date of Award

Spring 1957

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pick, John

Second Advisor

Archer, Jerome W.

Third Advisor

Moloney, Michael


The purpose of this paper is an analysis of the critical reception of the First and Second Editions of the Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. In this study I have attempted to present the opinions and impressions of the major critics of the twenties and early thirties. In turn, I have endeavored to contrast the critical views of the first decade of Hopkins' criticism with the second decade, noting the similarities and differences of opinion of the outstanding critics of each period. In making this analysis I have chosen article-length material and chapters of books as references rather than the periodical reviews and newspaper reviews of the editions. I followed this particular method because I believe that one can form a sounder judgement with this method. Newspaper reviews and periodical reviews are too frequently hastily written and often ephemeral in content. An analysis of the criticism pertinent to the poetry of Hopkins makes us cognizant of the fact that the critic must from time to time modify his conception of poetry. From time to time poets appear who if they are accepted at all, demand a radical revision of the existing conception of poetry. This is the situation in the case of Hopkins. Although part of the Victorian tradition, Hopkins stands apart from his contemporaries. Hopkins transcends Victorianism. His poetry is significantly characterized by the use of vigorous metaphors; he incorporates the difficult and the unpoetic and uses dramatic shifts of tone. These are the main reasons his own generalization failed to understand and appreciate him. Another reason for the early misunderstanding of the poetry of Hopkins is the lack of material pertinent to the appreciation of Hopkins as a poet and as a priest. It was not until 1930 that the first major work was published. This work, a critical biography of Hopkins by Gerald Lahey, S.J., offered some understanding and insight into the character of Hopkins. This biography also served to illuminate the darker passages of the poems for many of the critics, and prepared for a more profound understanding of Hopkins' creative genius.



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