English Literature

The Romantic Movement

In the age of reason all the emotions were said to be controlled under logic and also “art” had some certain rules. Your reason tells you something but your instincts may tell you something else.

  • A great shift from the Englightment’s emphasis on rationalism to subjectivity and intense feelings.
  • The romantics were inward-looking relying on personal experience and intuition.
  • The feeling gives importance to the situation, not the situation to the feeling.

The Essence of Romanticism

  • Glorification of instincts and emotions as opposed to a worship of intellect.
  • Contempt for formalism
    • Form is not important anymore.
  • Deep love for nature
    • Age of reason focused on the system of nature but the romantics look at its beauty instead.
  • Love for humble folk.
    • All of the common folk.
  • Strong wish to remake the world.
  • Belief in man’s natural goodness.
    • Man is naturally good, although there is evil in it.
  • Respect for imagination.

With Romantics…

  • Poetry became more subjective and literature began to be defined as “imaginative”.
  • Poet became “a special interpreter (special snowflake) of special truth to a special reader – not of general truths to common readers. The relationship became more personal, more intense and deeper.”

Changing Times…

  • Political Tumult
    • 1773 – American colonies gained independence.
      • British law demanded huge amount of tax from the America.
      • Colonies united and formed militia.
      • Boston Tea Party.
    • 1789 – French Revolution.
      • French executed their king.
      • Sympathy for principles of liberty, equality and fratenerty.
  • Industrial Revolution
    • Harnessing of steam.
      • Discovery of steam power triggered this revolution.
    • Opening of factories.
    • Mass production of goods.
      • You need transportation for selling the mass produced goods.
    • Enormous new wealth, enormous new poverty.

Thomas Paine

  • He wrote political pamphlets and the most important ones are
    • Common Sense
    • Rights of Man
  • He was pro-freedom.

First Romantic Artists

  • Walter Scott
    • inventor of the historical novel (Inaboe, Rob Roy)
    • He was Scottish.
    • Rob Roy is a very famous Scottish hero. He fought for pride and money.
    • Ivanhoe took place in medieval time.
  • Robert Burns
    • Used the language and songs of the rural people in poetry.
    • He is a very famous poet.
    • Lass is a Scottish word for a young beautiful girl.
  • John Constable
    • painted the rural countryside of England.
    • Still paintings.
  • William Turney
    • Revealed interest in the unleashed powers of nature in his painting.
    • Dynamic paintings.

Note: Romantics wanted to live in countryside as it was purer, they disregarded the urban life.

William Blake

  • He was an interesting character. He wasn’t just a poet but he was also a visionary and a painter.
  • He was a skeptical person. He believed that we are all, each one of us capable of great powers but there are social rules around us and these chains are not just social or political chains, they are in our brains and minds. We cannot imagine in a complete freedom but if we do we can actualise the true potential.
  • He wasn’t a religious person or an atheist. People always regarded God as the reasonable and logical character, he was associated with what is right and Satan on the other hand disobeyed the god and he came from the chaos. Blake believed that this chaotic energy could actually contain very creative powers.
  • He is most famous for Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience.
    • In Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve were innocent because they did not know what is bad but when they learned what is bad, they got experienced.
  • He collected these poems and the two works listed above are the collections of these poems. He divided poems into two.

Note: God is Shepherd and Jesus is the Lamb.

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