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THE ROMANTIC PERIOD. 1780 -1830. The French Revolution - 1789. English geographically removed from US revolution French tenets of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” were just across the Channel

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The french revolution 1789
The French Revolution - 1789

  • English geographically removed from US revolution

  • French tenets of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity” were just across the Channel

  • Disillusionment ensues when the Reign of Terror oppressed become as violent and corrupt as those they overthrew, opening door for Napoleon

Romantic writers tended to be
Romantic writers tended to be:

  • Optimists who believed in progress and human reform

  • Attackers of tyranny and the evils of

    • Industrialism

    • Urban blight

    • Pollution

    • Alienation of people from nature and each other

Nineteenth century advancements
Nineteenth century advancements

  • First Reform Bill (1832) liberalized representation in Parliament, leading to a truly representative body

  • Industrial Revolution (1750 – 1850)

    • Move from cottage industries to factories

    • Slums developed

    • Child / slave wage labor

    • Industrial accidents and diseases

Reform movements
Reform Movements

  • For the children of the poor, religious training, medical care and education were nonexistent.

  • Reformers force Church and government to assume responsibilities:

    • Sunday schools

    • Hospitals

    • Prison reform

    • Child labor laws enacted


  • Nature is the principal source of:

    • Inspiration

    • Spiritual truth

    • Enlightenment


  • Focused on:

    • Ordinary people

    • Common life

    • Affirmation of worth and dignity of all humans

    • Repudiation of evils of a class system

Two groups of poets
Two Groups of Poets

  • 1786:

    William Blake and Robert Burns lead the transition in terms of subject matter, themes and style

William blake
William Blake

  • Blake lived in relative obscurity, explored concept of “contraries” pain and joy, success and failure, prudence and excess.

  • “Songs of Innocence” “Songs of Experience”

Robert burns
Robert Burns

  • Raised in incessant poverty in Ayrshire, Scotland

  • Limited formal education, but father inspired in him a love of literature

  • Mentally composed poems and songs in dialect while doing chores

  • In and out of love affairs, turns to drink and dissipation; dies at 37

  • Remembered for ability to express feelings and concerns of ordinary people in a natural, flowing idiom

Transition between groups
Transition between groups

  • 1798: Wordsworth and Coleridge, bridging the two groups, publish Lyrical Ballads

    which asserted that:

  • ordinary life is best subject for poetry

  • everyday language best conveys feelings

  • feeling is more important than action

  • “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…”

After wordsworth and coleridge
After Wordsworth and Coleridge

  • Byron, Shelley, Keats

  • WW and Coleridge become more politically conservative

  • Byron, Shelley & Keats, once their idols, denounce them as traitors to former ideals

George gordon lord byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron

  • Reckless, bitter, in constant revolt against society

  • Epitomized Romanticism by his dedication to the cause of freedom and liberty

  • Remembered as a satirical poet

Percy bysshe shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley

  • Rebellious, scandalous, charismatic

  • Revolted against tyranny

  • Believed that the church, state, and commerce led to superstition, selfishness and corruption

  • Remembered as a lyric poet

John keats
John Keats

  • Mocked by critics for his Cockney heritage

  • Influenced by Shakespeare and Milton

  • Explored relationship between art and life

  • Believed that poetry should be the creation of concrete sensual images “in

    the service of profound creative thought.”

Gothic novel develops
Gothicnovel develops

  • Stories set in medieval time

  • Ruined castles

  • Mysterious doors

  • Supernaturalism of all kinds

    • Walpole’s Castle of Otranto (1795) sets form for the genre (Stoker’s Dracula @ 1897)


  • 1789 – GW becomes President of US

  • 1804 – Napoleon crowned Emperor of France

  • 1815 – Battle of Waterloo

  • 1825 – First railroad built in England

  • Mozart’s Magic Flute

  • Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5


  • Poe writes Tamerlane and other Poems

  • Webster’s American Dictionary published

  • Austen writes Pride and Prejudice

  • M. Shelley pens Frankenstein

  • DeQuincey publishes Confessions of an English Opium Eater