Monday, July 22, 2019

Eighteenth Century Literature Essay Example for Free

Eighteenth Century Literature Essay At the start of the Eighteenth Century Literature the literary pieces focus on rational and scientific views on all aspects of life be it economic, social, political and religious. The period heralded the Age of Enlightenment which was the thought much prevalent of the day. The writers sought to determine universal principles on humanity, nature, and society. The eighteenth-century literate reflected this quest. Written pieces around this time attacked various spiritual and scientific authority, dogmatism, intolerance, censorship, and economic and social restraints. Thus we can see in Thomas Grays Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard expressedly deals with the social issues prevalent during their time particularly the wide gap between social class and the opportunity to attain greatness. These lines in the poem captured these views: â€Å"Let not Ambition mock their useful toil, Their homely joys, and destiny obscure; Nor Grandeur hear with a disdainful smile The short and simple annals of the Poor. † Look more:  the importance of being earnest satire Grays tone throughout the poem is filled with regret. One can sense that something important is lost. This emotional tone captures the injustices that exist in the society due to wealth. He was actually voicing his opinions clearly against social class prejudices that was apparent during that period. In Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal also tackled the social ills during his time. This satirical essay used allusions to English oppressive attitudes toward the Irish. This is apparent in these lines I grant this food may be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for Landlords, who as they have already devoured most of the Parents, seem to have the best Title to the Children. He also pointed out criticisms on England on the way it mistreated Ireland: For this kind of commodity will not bear exportation, and flesh being of too tender a consistence, to admit a long continuance in salt, although perhaps I could name a country, which would be glad to eat up our whole nation without it. At first glance, the poem appeared to be criticisms heaped on England. But upon closer inspection one can also sense that Swift was expressing his sentiments on the conditions in Ireland, more specifically the can-do spirit of the times that pervaded the community which misled people into thinking that they can cure all social and economic ills specifically fix population and labor issues. Swift’s Modest Proposal talked about a burlesque of projects concerning the poor, that were considered fashionable in the early 18th century. Eighteenth Century Literature is characterized by extreme rationalism and skepticism which gave rise to deism or the belief in the existence of God which became the main theme in the succeeding era of Romanticism. This era is considered as the Age of Sensibility which of course clased with the ideals of the Middle Ages. Towards the end of the period, an intensifying focus on instinct and feeling instead of judgment and restraint was noted paving the way for the Romantic Literature. Romantic Literature During the period of Romanticism, industrialization was introduced. Steam engine was developed and this caused expansion of cities and a number of migrants leaving the countryside. Poor people flocked to the city. Issues such as class-conflicts and concerns on environmental pollution were prevalent. This developments in the era prompted the poets and the writers to seek solace in the beauty of nature. Thus, in most of their literary works we can see the universal theme of Mother Nature being the true cause of wisdome and the antidote to industrialization. Philosophers particularly Jean Jacques Rousseau tackled pertinent issues such as the supremacy or dominance of nature over civilization. A group of poets called Lake Poets from England espoused this philosophical view. Lake Poets comprised of a group of friends such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The work of these two poets reflect their sentiments perfectly. These Romantic Poets utilized emotions and reflections in their poets to get their message across. Wordsworth’s `I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud`and Coleridge’s `The Eolian Harp` reflected their thoughts about nature and how much they value it. â€Å"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by Wordsworth is about the beauty of nature and the need for introspection. This is best captured in the last lines of the poem: â€Å"For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. † Nature after all is best understood and appreciated in solitude. Solitude here however does not mean loneliness but inner peace or tranquility which is the by-product of being in commune with the natural order. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s `The Eolian Harp` also tackles the beauty that nature brings. The Eolian Harp is a stringed instrument which produces music when placed in an open window allowing breeze to pass over it. The eolian harp was often used by poets in the Romantic period to represent creativity. Just like Wordsworth’s poem, it sought to cope with pensiveness and nature as the solution or cure for this pensiveness as apparent in the first lines of the poem: â€Å"My pensive SARA ! thy soft cheek reclined Thus on mine arm, most soothing sweet it is To sit beside our Cot, our Cot oergrown With white-flowerd Jasmin, and the broad-leavd Myrtle† Coleridge and Wordsworth, however, have different versions of romanticism. Coleridge wanted to make the paranormal real or believable. Wordsworth’s idea of romanticism is to stir the imagination of readers using real characters. Victorian Literature During the Victorian Era (1837 – 1901), novels and poems were no longer written mainly to please the aristocratic few but to make an impression and cater to the tastes of the much larger middle class. The novels were also getting wider acceptance around this time. In this era, romantic images of the past were extolled. The writers use everyday language and combine it with classical and traditional language to symbolize the ushering of modernity in the Victorian period. At that period, the economy was developing, the nobility was gaining less prominence, and the class structures were vanishing. There is a expressed need for Victorian poets to find a voice that would capture the essence of their time and place. Rudyyard, Kipling ` Danny Deever` attempts to portray the inner turmoils of a man about to be executed. The poem is about military execution parade with Danny Deever. What makes you look so white, so white? said Files-on-Parade. Im dreadin what Ive got to watch, the Colour-Sergeant said. For theyre hangin Danny Deever, you can hear the Dead March play, The regiments in ollow square theyre hangin him to-day; Danny is to be executed by hanging because he killed a fellow soldier while he was asleep. One can sense the concerns of the soldier. Another important poet in the Victorian Era is William Ernest Henley who wrote â€Å"Invictus. † His poems were largely based on his personal reflections of his life and his situation being an amputee who suffered tuberculosis of the bone. â€Å"In the fell clutch of circumstance I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance My head is bloody, but unbowd. † The common theme that ran through the poems is about struggles in life. Danny Deever struggled with his work as a soldier and in Invictus, struggles against disease was obvious. Literature in Victorian era is largely characterized as certain, conservative and objective. Writers in this area had learned to live with realities plaguing them be it social, economic and religious. Certainty in both poems come in the form of death and struggles. The views during this literary period were predominantly conservative especially when it came to social perspectives. The upheavals the people experienced during the romantic era had died down in the Victorian era. Much of the poets’ works around this time served to link and prepared writers as they paved way for the modern era. The literary pieces around this time also tended to reminiscing the past particularly the stories in the classical literature and the medieval literature of England. The Victorians cherised the the heroism, chivalry and nobility of the knights in the past and hoped to recapture that behavior in their period.

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