Romanticism

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An Introduction to Romanticism and the era that preceded it.

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Romanticism

  1. 1. Romanticism: An Introduction P Hegarty 2012
  2. 2. Romanticism 1760-1850. These years are very approximate. Eras don’t really end. They continue and intertwine and reappear…we can identify Enlightenment, Neoclassical, Romantic, Modern and Post Modern values in our world today.• Before we look at the Romantic Era, let’s look at the period of time leading up to it• Let’s first look at the 18th century 17001800 1700-1800 The Eighteenth The Enlightenment; Neoclassical Period; Century The Augustan Age…Age of Reason Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson 1785-1830 Romanticism The Age of Revolution William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge, Jane Austen, the Brontës 1830-1901 Victorian Early, Middle and Late Victorian Period Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Robert Browning, Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1901-1960 Modern Period The Edwardian Era (1901-1910); G.M. Hopkins, The Georgian Era H.G. Wells, James Joyce, (1910-1914) D.H. Lawrence, T.S. Eliot
  3. 3. Enlightenment 1650 [an approximate date]1700-1800: This century is given different titles including;1. Neo classical age [as writers and artists looked to the writing of the ancient classical world of Greece & Rome as models for their work• 2.The Augustan age 3. Age of reason 4. Age of Satire• Mechanical view of the world. The clock becomes a metaphor for the universe. God created the ‘mechanism’, wound it up and let it be• Newton and other scientists saw it as their Quest to discover the mystery of this ‘machine’, the universe• The importance of authority…be it government, classical authority…religious authority…the sciences…mathematics. While Neo-classicists tended to reject the ‘superstition’ of religion and its lack of reason and logic, many saw the institution important for order• The notion of progress through science and mathematics
  4. 4. • “order, logic, restraint, accuracy, correctness, restraint, decorum, and so on, which would enable the practitioners of various arts to imitate or reproduce the structures and themes of Greek or Roman originals.”Neoclassicism• “ To a certain extent Neoclassicism represented a reaction against the optimistic, exuberant, and enthusiastic Renaissance view of man as a being fundamentally good and possessed of an infinite potential for spiritual and intellectual growth. Neoclassical theorists, by contrast, saw man as an imperfect being, inherently sinful, whose potential was limited. They replaced the Renaissance emphasis on the imagination, on invention and experimentation, and on mysticism with an emphasis on order and reason, on restraint, on common sense, and on religious, political, economic and philosophical conservatism. They maintained that man himself was the most appropriate subject of art, and saw art itself as essentially pragmatic — as valuable because it was somehow useful — and as something which was properly intellectual rather than emotional.” Neoclassicism• Hobbes’ Leviathan• “The fading away of Neoclassicism may have appeared to represent the last flicker of the Enlightenment, but artistic movements never really die: many of the primary aesthetic tenets of Neoclassicism, in fact have reappeared in the twentieth century — in, for example, the poetry and criticism of T. S. Eliot — as manifestations of a reaction against Romanticism itself: Eliot saw Neo-classicism as emphasising poetic form and conscious craftsmanship, and Romanticism as a poetics of personal emotion and "inspiration," and pointedly preferred the former.” Neoclassicism
  5. 5. Characteristics of Neoclassical literature• Reason, controlled emotion, sophistication…detachment• Witty and clever• Philosophical• Satirical [attacks on other writers, politicians, society, injustice etc. A Modest Proposal• Mock Heroic• Rigid structure of rhyming coupletsAWAKE, my St. John! leave all meaner thingsTo low ambition, and the pride of kings.Let us (since life can little more supplyThan just to look about us, and to die)Expatiate free oer all this scene of man;A mighty maze! but not without a plan; Pope extract ‘An essay on Man’
  6. 6. Neoclassical Garden Neoclassical Art
  7. 7. Neo Classical Painting
  8. 8. Art Romantic Era This and the next two images are from the Romantic EraT
  9. 9. Dark Romanticism ‘The Nightmare’ by Fueseli
  10. 10. Romanticism• Rousseau [1712 – 2 July 1778)• Age of Revolution• French Revolution 1789…storming of The Bastille- Challenge to authority…political…The divine right of kings and absolute authority….challenge to religious authorities- Old feudal systems breaking down…rise of an underclass- Republicanism- American War of Independence 1775
  11. 11. England• Industrial revolution.• Child Labour• Deepening distrust of some aspects of science• An agrarian country becomes an Industrial one• Rapid Urbanisation…dreadful social conditions• William Blake• Revolution in Verse
  12. 12. LONDONI wandered through each chartered street,Near where the chartered Thames does flow,A mark in every face I meet,Marks of weakness, marks of woe.In every cry of every man,In every infants cry of fear,In every voice, in every ban,The mind-forged manacles I hear:How the chimney-sweepers cryEvery blackening church appals,And the hapless soldiers sighRuns in blood down palace-walls.But most, through midnight streets I hearHow the youthful harlots curseBlasts the new-born infants tear,And blights with plagues the marriage-hearse.Analysis
  13. 13. Holy Thursday’Twas on a Holy Thursday their innocent faces cleanThe children walking two & two in red & blue & greenGrey headed beadles walk’d before with wands as white as snowTill into the high dome of Pauls they like Thames waters flowO what a multitude they seem’d these flowers of London townSeated in companies they sit with radiance all their ownThe hum of multitudes was there but multitudes of lambsThousands of little boys & girls raising their innocent handsNow like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of songOr like harmonious thunderings the seats of heaven amongBeneath them sit the aged men wise guardians of the poorThen cherish pity, lest you drive angel from your doorAnalysis
  14. 14. Nature• Reaction…urbanisation…industrialisation…imprisonment• Cities unnatural, unhealthy ‘hellish’ places• Spiritual & emotional engagement• The point of interaction between the human and divine• Evidence of the divine at work• Therapeutic…healing …• SolitudeIndividualism• Elevation of the status of the individual• Freedom of the individual…free from shackles…• The potential of the individual• Sense of idealism
  15. 15. Imagination• IIMA Reason• The Romantic did not reject reason but elevated the status of the imagination• Great creative faculty. We process our experience, ponder on these experiences and come to certain conclusions…liberating force• The imagination allows us to travel into the past and future• It allows us to explore other worlds both real and imagined• It allows us to consider alternative ways of thinking, other forms of society• It can take us into the world of fantasy and horror - The Gothic e.g. Frankenstein…and Dark Romanticism of writers like Poe
  16. 16. Characteristics of Romantic Poetry…revolutionary because;• The individual is at the centre of the poem recounting their first hand personal experienceI wandered lonely as a cloudThat floats on high oer vales and hills,When all at once I saw …• The status of the common person is elevated and recognised. Blake wrote about orphans, child labourers, prostitutes…• Their verse was political in its condemnation of inequality, industrialisation and urbanisation• The poem was a product of the imagination and was in itself an imaginative journey• The best Romantic poetry combined reason and emotion• Recognised the importance of intuition• Celebrated the importance of nature as a source of spiritual solace and fulfilment…drew on nature for it dominant imagery…lauded the wonder and mystique of the natural world
  17. 17. • Simplicity of the language in contrast to the complex allusive [many allusions] language of the neo-classicists. ..sometimes conversational in styleFrost at Midnight It is midnight in the countryside in the middle of winter. The persona personifies nature and is in awe of the magic of the frost forming. He speaksThe Frost performs its secret ministry, of nature as a mysterious force performing itsUnhelped by any wind. The owlets cry ‘secret ministry’ as if it were a ritual of immenseCame loud—and hark, again! loud as before. religious significance. For the Romantics, NatureThe inmates of my cottage, all at rest, was their source of spiritual sustenance. We canHave left me to that solitude, which suits tell from the exclamatory language how much the persona delights in this moment as they describeAbstruser musings: save that at my side the sights and sounds of the natural world.My cradled infant slumbers peacefully. Everyone is asleep and he welcomes thisTis calm indeed! so calm, that it disturbs ‘solitude’ and ‘extreme silentness’ as he holds hisAnd vexes meditation with its strange sleeping child. His imagination takes him outAnd extreme silentness. Sea, hill, and wood, beyond the walls of the cottage and he imagines the landscape he knows so well from his daytimeThis populous village! Sea, and hill, and wood, walks. The physical world will now stimulateWith all the numberless goings-on of life, deeper reflection about his childhood and howInaudible as dreams! the thin blue flame his son’s upbringing will differ. Typically the poemLies on my low-burnt fire, and quivers not; begins at a particular moment in time and placeOnly that film, which fluttered on the grate, and this moment of solitude leads to deep consideration, speculation and realisations…
  18. 18. For I was rearedIn the great city, pent mid cloisters dim,And saw nought lovely but the sky and stars. He was sent to a city boarding schoolBut thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze as child and likens both school andBy lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags the city to being imprisonedOf ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds, …’pent ‘mid cloisters dim’.Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores He could only see the stars and skyAnd mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear through the high windows.The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible Leaving the past he now imaginesOf that eternal language, which thy God what sort of future his child will haveUtters, who from eternity doth teach growing up in the natural world beingHimself in all, and all things in himself. guided and moulded by that “GreatGreat universal Teacher! he shall mould Universal Teacher’- nature.Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask. Nature is where the child will experience a sense of the divine.
  19. 19. • Originality…unlike the Neo classicist who modelled their work on past masters. Our notion of originality today comes from the Romantics • Tended to celebrate the potential in humankind…and urge us to ‘seize the day’ in making the most of our life in this world…to rebel against whatever shackles are holding us back • Could also despair of the reality of the human condition. Late Romantic poetry became trite and sentimental and quite shallow in its description of the role of nature. The best Romantic poetry could, like Keats below, capture the extraordinary beauty of nature while exploring the confronting reality of our existence… To Autumn [3rd stanza] john Keats Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? In the poem To Autumn, Keats in the first Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,— stanza describes the beauty of the While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, countryside in Autumn. This leads in the And touch the stubble plains with rosy hue; second and third stanza to deeper Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn speculation about life and the human Among the river sallows, borne aloft condition. Autumn takes on a symbolic Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; significance…of time passing, transience, And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; old age, approaching death. These Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft themes are reinforced by the time of day The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; ‘soft-dying day’. The questions create a And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. mood of doubt and uncertainty.The Gnats are described as making a ‘wailful’ sound which reinforces this idea of mourning the passingof time. Ultimately there is a realisation that Winter has its ‘music too’ and we must accept the reality oflife
  20. 20. • Some Favoured formats included thelyric and the ballad; a form traditionallybelonging to the ordinary peasant class…a more rustic form of song Unlike the polished sophisticatede.g. The Rime of The Ancient Mariner. language of the Neo classicists, Coleridge in this ballad, employs an archaic style of language in keeping with the content of the poem whichThe Rime of The Ancient Mariner tells a very strange story of this sailorIt is an ancient Mariner, who recounts his crime and And he stoppeth one of three. subsequent divine punishment. By thy long beard and glittering eye, His sea trip took him deep into the Now wherefore stoppst thou me? Antarctic, a fearful exotic , exciting place in the minds of theThe Bridegrooms doors are opened wide, Romantics…where one couldAnd I am next of kin; experience The Sublime in Nature…aThe guests are met, the feast is set: mixture of terror & aweMayst hear the merry din
  21. 21. • While the Romantics treasured the natural world around them, they were also enchanted by the exotic …other worlds…other times [We have already seen this in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner]• The Romantics sometime harked back to the Middle Ages i.e. pre- Enlightenment. They longed for the sense of mystery, magic and superstition of that time…elements that the science and reason had sought to extinguish. They weren’t anti science or reason but argued that there is so much more to human existence• Le Belle Dame Sans Merci by Keats is one such ballad ….or listen• Coleridge creates an extraordinary world in his poem Kubla Khan

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