Literary Romanticism. What is it?. Early Literary Romanticism. Characterized by complicated plots Well-developed characters unusual characters Exotic settings Traditional morality (i.e., ‘Biblical’) Sin Nature may be recognized. Complicated Plots.
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Literary Romanticism What is it?
Early Literary Romanticism • Characterized by complicated plots • Well-developed characters • unusual characters • Exotic settings • Traditional morality (i.e., ‘Biblical’) • Sin Nature may be recognized
Complicated Plots . . . • Multi-layered plots (as in UTC or Huck Finn) • Sub-plots • Plots woven together to make a whole • Plots based on traditional ideas of right and wrong • Logic and reason • Plots serve a purpose • To entertain, or • To educate (or practice Values Clarification)
Well-developed Characters • Characters are heroes worthy of imitation • Characters teach right and wrong by example and provide a moral compass • Good guys teach what to do • Bad guys teach what NOT to do • Idealistic: larger than life
Unusual Characters • A Worthy Christian slave in bitter circumstances • A dying Christian girl • A worst-case slave girl raised like an animal • A northern woman in a home run by slaves • A worst-ever father figure
Stereotypes provide social lessons • The Southern belle lifestyle is not healthy • Slavery ruins families • Slavery ruins slave holders • You cannot be ‘indifferent’ to the evil of slavery • You must be willing to take action
Exotic Settings • A slave-run farm • An anti-typical New Orleans estate • A Louisiana cotton plantation • Life on a raft on the Mississippi River • Castles, medieval times, tournaments • Distant past, historic past, futuristic
Traditional Morality • Heroes worthy of imitation provide a moral compass • Uncle Tom • Evangeline St. Clare • Miss Ophelia • Young George Shelby • Jim
As Romanticism progresses The influence of Christianity becomes more and more vague until it is nearly left behind as antiquated, outdated, & old-fashioned
Romanticism The exaltation of Nature
Romanticism • Follow the heart, emotions, and instinct • Reject moral absolutes • Place blame on society • Concentrate on Nature over civilization • Relative truth • Occult fantasies replace clockwork universe • Elevation of Noble Savage image
Sensibility Follow your heart-it will never lie: emphasis on the individual, center of life/experience (in contrast with Prov. 3:5, Jer. 17:5, 9; 18:12, Acts 15:9. Self analysis; it’s all about me: Voltaire, Rousseau, Wordsworth, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman. What is unique in a person is important.
Revolution of all Propriety In 150 years . . . The rejection of religious absolutes in 1859 eventually leads to the absurd in 2009
Innocence Replaces Wisdom Society and civilization are to blame! We begin to see ‘ethical dilemmas’ where ‘wrong’ is the ‘right thing’ to do We call this ‘situational ethics’ We see extraordinary characters (usually neurotic) in unusual circumstances
The Green Concept The Exaltation of Nature Literature will exalt the wild and natural, and scorn the artificial
Imagination Replaces Reality Literature will focus on the importance of intuition and relative truth
Dark Romanticism Occult fantasies replace clockwork universe: Dracula, Frankenstein, Captain Jack Sparrow, and Peter Pan-type characters emerge
The Noble Savage Civilization is to blame for man’s problems (e.g., Tarzan is more ethically-minded than any civilized man he meets). The Nobel Savage is resultant from the rejection of Original Sin; Tarzan and Huck Finn are unspoiled by human society; Society is to blame for behaviors, not a Sin Nature.
Spiritual Dilemma of the Noble Savage A secular version of a spiritual dilemma sets the romantic individual in a tension between individual freedom and social constraint. Without the Bible (e.g., Heb. 4:12) to validate moral absolutes, there is no solution to spiritual dilemmas (2 Tim. 3:16, 17).
Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”
2 Timothy 3:16, 17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Literary Heroes Literary heroes are no longer moral paragons subject to a universal standard The anti-hero develops in literature to explore the individual experience and explore traditional concepts of morality
What Happened? Prior to 1859 and the publication of Darwin’s Origin of the Species, the humanistic ideals of the Enlightenment/Deism/Age of Reason were not enough to jettison God from the universe. Everything changed in 1859
The Origin of Species (1859) EVOLUTION BY NATURAL SELECTION ‘Enlightened’ thinkers rejected God completely from their ‘clockwork universe’ model and their ‘blind watchmaker’ model. The clock needs a designer-creator The watchmaker implies intelligence
A New Worldview Paradigm Darwin’s theory needs no Creator Darwin’s theory needs no Savior Darwin’s theory needs no supernatural element
A New Worldview Paradigm Everything will be explained in terms of natural processes This is what makes Darwin more important than Newton or Einstein to the secular world
A New Worldview Paradigm Darwin negates the need for God Religion becomes a ‘crutch’ for the unenlightened
One hundred years later in 1959 The propaganda movie, Inherit the Wind, hit the movie screen
Based loosely on the 1925 Scopes Monkey Trial Inherit the Wind helped to elevate Darwin’s theory to monumental stature by depicting religion as the enemy of open scientific inquiry
The next 100 years . . . Darwin’s theory of natural selection has gained favor in the growing secular world It is now ‘the fact’ to be accepted rather than a scientific theory subject to critical analysis
Scientific or Social? Darwin's own involvement with these ideas is relatively murky. Some of his writings suggest strong sympathies for the social application of his theories:
From Origin of the Species: “With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the progress of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick;
Continued we institute poor-laws....Thus, the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.”
Hmmmm . . . It is worth noting here that Darwin's argument is not scientific, but social, and that he makes some rather grand assumptions about a breeder's ability to select advantageous traits. . . .
In the final estimation, social Darwinism appears to be a reaction to what was perhaps the most unsettling revelation of Darwinism: the rescinding of humanity's providential purpose. . . .
Humans no longer appeared to exist for any particular reason. The earth didn't need us, and had probably existed for a long time without us. . . .
Social Darwinism used this theological void to challenge notions of social charity, but also to recast humanity's purpose as willful self-perfection. Glossary entry: ‘Social Darwinism’
The Strength of Darwinism is its Biggest Weakness The Fossil Record and the lack of transitional forms The Forgeries include: Java man, Nebraska man, Piltdown man, Peking man, and Lucy, not to mention the phenomenon of China's thriving fake fossil business reported in the February 2003 issue of Discover.
Java Man – the famous thigh bone Found on the Indonesian island of Java in 1892: • A thigh bone • A large skull cap • Three teeth The pieces were found one year and 50 feet apart The pieces were called the ‘missing link’ and Java Man eventually became widely accepted as such, in spite of the fact that a leading authority had identified two of the teeth as those of an orangutan, and the other as human.
What does Evolution have to do with Literature? We see the evolutionary worldview reflected in all secular literature shortly after Origin of the Species is published We also see the evolutionary worldview reflected in much theological literature as the Bible is analyzed by ‘new’ science!
Shifting Worldviews REALISM 1865-1910
REALSIM 1865-1910 NATURALISM 1880-1914 NB: they overlap
REALISM Like all literary movements, the lines between early romanticism and Realism are impossible to draw. Realism merges into Romantic literature to serve a need (educate the reading audience)
Realism: The Narrator An Objective, Neutral Narrator The narrator does not judge the morals in the story as right or wrong He just tells the facts of the story as they occur
Realism: Expect Social Darwinism Social Darwinism suggested that in a society of competitors, those who "won" prevailed through superior breeding. Those who failed—poor, African-American, Irish, etc.—did so because of inferior breeding.
Realism: Expect Social Darwinism Social Darwinists tended to focus their arguments on the poor and infirm, where the struggle of the species (and its supposedly less fit examples) was most evident Expect to see stories about the poor and the struggling
Realism: Social Awareness Expect to read critical appraisals of society and its institutions Society will be questioned Institutions will be questioned
Realism: the language Expect coarse, frank, brutal descriptions