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					THE ROMANTIC AGE

   1798-1832


    Geschke/British Literature
        The Romantic Age
         The Romantic Age
•   The beginning of the Romantic Age
    in English literature is usually set in
    1798, the year in which William
    Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor
    Coleridge published a book of their
    poems called Lyrical Ballads.



               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
         Lyrical Ballads
William Wordsworth         Samuel Taylor Coleridge




             Geschke/British Literature
                 The Romantic Age
         Characteristics of Lyrical
                 Ballads
•       the natural or commonplace, and
        the supernatural or romantic
•       concern with the poet’s own life,
        emotions, and subjective experience
    –    Wordsworth: “All good poetry is the
         spontaneous overflow of powerful
         feelings.”



                   Geschke/British Literature
                       The Romantic Age
         Characteristics of Lyrical
                 Ballads
•       intense love of nature
    –     Wordsworth is considered to be the
          greatest of all the Romantic “nature
          poets”
         • “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above
            Tintern Abbey”
            – Considered to be one of the finest
              expressions in English poetry of the
              power and value of the natural
              world

                    Geschke/British Literature
                        The Romantic Age
        The Romantic Age
•   The Romantic Age traditionally ends
    in 1832, with the death of Sir Walter
    Scott and the passage of the First
    Reform Bill in Parliament.




               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
               Romanticism
•       Romance
•       Originally referred to highly
        imaginative medieval tales of
        knightly adventure
    –    Often times, these tales involved
         amorous encounters between a knight
         and his lady.



                   Geschke/British Literature
                       The Romantic Age
             The Romantic Age
•       Refers to the older definition of the
        term Romance
•       Generally refers to the rich
        imaginative activity displayed in the
        world of knights
    –     Deeply characteristic of late eighteenth-
          and early nineteenth-century writers.
•       Think of romance as “freely
        imaginative idealizing fiction.”
                    Geschke/British Literature
                        The Romantic Age
Contrasting the Characteristics
  of the Eighteenth Century
•       Stressed reason and judgment
    –     Romantic writers emphasized imagination and
          emotion
•       Concerned with the general or universal
        in experience
    –     Romantic writers were concerned with the
          particular
•       Asserted the values of society as a whole
    –     Romantic writers championed the value of the
          individual human being
                     Geschke/British Literature
                         The Romantic Age
Contrasting the Characteristics
  of the Eighteenth Century
•   Sought to follow and to substantiate
    authority and the rules derived from
    authority
    –   Romantic writers strove for freedom
•   Primary inspiration came from
    classical Greek and Roman authors
    –   Romantic writers took a revitalized
        interest in medieval subjects and
        settings
                  Geschke/British Literature
                      The Romantic Age
     “The Spirit of the Age”
•   Romantic writers saw themselves as
    reacting against the thought and
    literary practice of the preceding
    century
•   A shared sense of liberated energy
    and fresh departure similar in some
    respects to what we find in the
    Renaissance

              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
       Changes in England
•   Enormous literary energy in England
•   The size of the reading public had
    increased rapidly during the
    eighteenth century




              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
    The Historical Background
•       Two major revolutions disrupted the
        English sense of security and well
        being
    –    The revolt of the English colonies in
         America
    –    The French Revolution




                   Geschke/British Literature
                       The Romantic Age
     The French Revolution
•   Rejection of authority
•   Overthrow of the government of a great
    European power from within
•   The Crown and the ruling classes feared
    the effects of the French Revolution
•   English liberals and radicals viewed the
    early stages of the French Revolution a
    triumph of popular democracy


                Geschke/British Literature
                    The Romantic Age
         The French Revolution
•       Many writers of Romanticism were
        enthusiastic supporters of the
        Revolution in its early stages
    –    William Wordsworth
    –    William Godwin
    –    William Hazlitt




                  Geschke/British Literature
                      The Romantic Age
     The French Revolution

William Godwin




William Hazlitt


                  Geschke/British Literature
                      The Romantic Age
     The French Revolution
•   Eventually, the French Revolution
    gave way to bitter disappointment as
    events took an increasingly violent
    and repressive course
•   Revolutionary extremists gained
    control of the government in 1792



              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
      September Massacres

•   Executed hundreds of the
    imprisoned nobility




              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
            Reign of Terror
•   In 1793, King
    Louis XVI
    executed
•   Thousands of
    those associated
    with the old
    regime were
    guillotined


                Geschke/British Literature
                    The Romantic Age
Napoleon




Geschke/British Literature
    The Romantic Age
               Napoleon
•   Emerged as
    dictator and
    eventually as
    emperor of France
•   Strove to conquer
    Europe and
    establish a new
    dynasty


                Geschke/British Literature
                    The Romantic Age
    England’s Reaction to the
         French Revolution
•   Even the most ardent supporters of
    the Revolution were left in
    disillusionment and despair
•   The English government and ruling
    classes implemented severe
    repressive measures against those
    who sympathized with democratic
    ideals or reform

              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
     England’s Reaction to the
        French Revolution
•   The Whigs in Britain tried to come to
    terms with Napoleon
•   The Tories, who controlled the
    country, saw Napoleon as a threat to
    their political and social system




               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
               Waterloo
•   The Battle of Waterloo in 1815
•   Napoleon’s final defeat
•   Cause for celebration for the British
    conservative forces
•   Sad time for the British
    sympathizers with the ideals of the
    French Revolution

               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
    The Industrial Revolution
•   A major shift occurred during the
    eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
    from hand labor to new methods of
    manufacturing made possible by
    power-driven machines




              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
    The Industrial Revolution
•   Ultimately more important in
    transforming European society
•   In its own may have been more
    violent in its impact on human life
•   It was in England that the Industrial
    Revolution had its earliest and most
    substantial foundation


               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
    The Industrial Revolution
•   The Industrial Revolution in England
    marks the beginning of our modern
    era
•   Profound economic and social
    changes
•   Existing principles and structures of
    government unable to handle these
    changes

               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
    The Industrial Revolution
•       Many places developed into sprawling,
        dirty industrial cities
•       Working and living conditions were
        horrible
    –     Men, women and children labored for long
          hours under intolerable conditions for wages
          that were barely enough to keep them alive
    –     Workers had no vote
    –     Prevented by law from forming labor unions


                     Geschke/British Literature
                         The Romantic Age
    The Industrial Revolution
•   England was sharply divided into
    two classes
    –   A wealthy class of property owners who
        held economic and political power
    –   A poor class of wage earners deprived of
        virtually all rights and possessions




                  Geschke/British Literature
                      The Romantic Age
        Government’s Response to
        the Industrial Revolution
•       Guided by a policy of noninterference
    –    known as laissez faire
         •   “allow to do”
•       According to this belief, only the
        unhampered operation of economic
        laws would result in wealth and
        prosperity sufficient to secure the
        welfare of the country

                       Geschke/British Literature
                           The Romantic Age
    Government’s Response to
    the Industrial Revolution
•   Very little was done by government to
    control and to organize the economic
    forces and social changes unleashed by
    the coming of the industrial age
•   The most decisive acts were those taken
    against the workers’ demands for better
    conditions, and against those reformers
    who, the government thought, went too far
    in urging social change

                Geschke/British Literature
                    The Romantic Age
    Lack of Leadership in England
•    King George III, who
     had held the throne
     since 1760, was
     declared incurably
     insane in 1811.
•    England was then
     ruled until 1820 by
     his son, the Prince of
     Whales, who acted as
     Regent


                    Geschke/British Literature
                        The Romantic Age
    Lack of Leadership in England
•    The years of the Regency were a time
     of lavish social display and
     indulgence by the upper classes
•    Most of those who held power paid
     little attention to the alteration in
     English life or to the hardships of the
     working class


                Geschke/British Literature
                    The Romantic Age
        The Romantic Age
•   A time of vast and largely unguided
    political and economic change
•   Most of the writers of this period
    were deeply affected by the French
    Revolution and by the Industrial
    Revolution
•   Many of the main literary concerns
    of the Romantic writers reflect these
    historical issues
               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
        The Romantic Age
•   Free itself from the rules and
    standards of eighteenth-century
    literature
•   Dignity of the individual
•   Interest in the language and
    experience of the common people
•   Writers or artists must be free to
    explore their own imaginative worlds
•   Love of the unspoiled natural world
               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
              Political Action
•       No serious political action until 1832
•       In 1832, Parliament passed the First
        Reform Bill
    –    Extended the vote to more (but by no
         means to all) citizens, curtailed the
         political privileges of the aristocracy,
         and redistributed parliamentary
         representation.


                    Geschke/British Literature
                        The Romantic Age
        The Romantic Age
•   1832 is the year that traditionally
    marks the end of the Romantic Age
•   It was a time of soaring aspiration
    and bitter disappointment, rather
    than of progress and achievement




               Geschke/British Literature
                   The Romantic Age
Five Greatest Romantic Poets
•   William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
•   Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
•   George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-
    1824)
•   Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
•   John Keats (1795-1821)


              Geschke/British Literature
                  The Romantic Age
William Wordsworth
    (1770-1850)




    Geschke/British Literature
        The Romantic Age
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    (1772-1834)




      Geschke/British Literature
          The Romantic Age
George Gordon, Lord Byron
       (1788-1824)




        Geschke/British Literature
            The Romantic Age
Percy Bysshe Shelley
    (1792-1822)




     Geschke/British Literature
         The Romantic Age
 John Keats
(1795-1821)




 Geschke/British Literature
     The Romantic Age

				
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