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Rebels and dreamers. Unit 4 (1798-1832). Historical Background. After nearly a century of progress in science and industry, the faith of poets in reason was eroded. Wordsworth, “Our meddling intellect/Misshapes the beauteous forms of things-/We murder to dissect.”

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rebels and dreamers

Rebels and dreamers

Unit 4 (1798-1832)

historical background
Historical Background
  • After nearly a century of progress in science and industry, the faith of poets in reason was eroded.
  • Wordsworth, “Our meddling intellect/Misshapes the beauteous forms of things-/We murder to dissect.”
  • The time the follows is known as the Romantic period.
  • To understand this, it is important to understand the history.
revolution to reaction
Revolution to Reaction
  • Many of the defining historical events for the end of the 18th century took place in France, not England.
  • French Revolution began on July 14, 1789 when a mob stormed the Bastille ( a prison for political prisoners)
  • The successful revolutionaries put limits on King Louis the XVI – established a new government, approved a document called The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen – which emphasized, “liberty, equality, and fraternity.”
  • France became a Constitutional Monarchy.
  • This scared the English aristocracy.
the reign of terror
The Reign of Terror
  • As people jockeyed for power, the French Revolution became more chaotic.
  • A radical group, the Jacobins gained control of the French legislative assembly and abolished the monarchy and declared the nation a republic.
  • Bloody “September Massacres” – this group killed numerous prisoners including the aristocracy and priests.
  • Within weeks they tried and convicted Louis XVI of treason and sent him to the guillotine.
  • Under the power of Maximilien de Robespierre, the reign of terror began.
  • Over the course of a year, 17000 royalists, moderates, and even radicals were sent to the guillotine – including Robespierre himself!
  • As a result, France began a citizen army and declared war in the name of liberty on England.
  • This would drag on for 22 years.
british reaction
British Reaction
  • Even Britons who were sympathetic to the French revolutionaries turned against the idea of revolution because the massacres were so shocking.
  • Conservatives in Briton began to crack down on Jocobian-like groups that threatened the monarchy.
  • The government began to ban public meetings, suspended basic rights, and outlawed all talk of parliamentary reform.
society s problems
Society’s Problems
  • Problems were being caused by the Industrial Revolution:
  • Overcrowded factories
  • Long working hours for low pay.
  • Restless working class
  • Loss of jobs to new machinery
  • Violent protests
  • Attempt to organize unions
  • Britain’s government claimed to be following a hands-off policy, but in fact sided openly with factory owners against workers.
  • Britain was splitting into two angry camps – the working class and the ruling class.
  • 1824 first labor unions were allowed to organize.
  • 1829 the right to religious freedom was restored to Roman Catholics.
political change
Political Change
  • A Reform Bill of 1832 brought sweeping changes to British political life.
  • Voting rights were extended to middle class (males)
  • This law threatened the traditional dominance of landowning aristocrats in Parliament.
  • 1833 – first laws requiring factory safety were passed AND slavery was abolished.
literature of the period
Literature of the Period
  • The beginnings of Romanticism
  • There was a new interest in the trials and dreams of the common people.
  • They desired changed and that need grew out of their desire for democracy.
  • They had a deep attachment to nature and to a pure, simple past. This was heightened by the industrial revolution
  • For the Romantics, faith in science and reason, so characteristic of the 18th century no longer applied in this world of factories and tyranny.
the romantic movement
The Romantic Movement
  • This movement takes its name from an interest in medieval romances. Goeth – a German writer who incorporates ideas of democracy and the idea that “Man is born free,” (Rousseau) - shows new attention to feelings and expresses an ideal of self-fulfillment and growth through experience.
the romantic age in british poetry
The Romantic Age in British Poetry
  • Romanticism affected literature, music, and art.
  • This era produced brilliant European composers – Beethoven and Schubert.
  • Great writers of the time were Wordsworth and Coleridge.
  • Poetry is, “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings …[and it] takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility”
words of wordsworth
Words of Wordsworth
  • The new poetry dealt with, “incidents and situations from common life” over which the poet throws, “a certain coloring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented …. in an unusual way.”
  • Wordsworth also focused on nature, combining human passions with, “the beautiful and permanent forms of nature.”
  • Nature was not a force to be tamed and analyzed scientifically; rather it was a wild, free force that could inspire poets to instinctive spiritual understanding.
second generation of romantic poets
Second Generation of Romantic Poets
  • George Gordon, Lord Byron
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • John Keats
  • All three of these poets rebelled even more against British conservatism than did Wordsworth and Coleridge.
  • All three died abroad tragically after short lives.
lord byron
Lord Byron
  • Member of the House of Lords
  • Critics responded harshly to his early poetry
  • Handsome, egotistical, aloof – he became the darling of English society – but not for long.
  • London hostesses were shocked by his radical politics and scandalous love affairs. He was shunned by upper society and left Britain in 1816 – never to return.
percy bysshe shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
  • Friend of Lord Byron
  • Husband of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
  • Aristocrat and political rebel
  • Shunned for his radical ideas
  • Left Britain in 1818
  • Remembered for the fervor he brought to lyric poetry
john keats
John Keats
  • Master lyrical poet
  • Trained as a doctor, but abandoned medicine to pursue poetry
  • Produced most of his famous works in the first 9 months of 1819 – then died of tuberculosis in Italy at age 25
romantic prose
Romantic Prose
  • Periodicals opened the gateway for romantic prose of the period – even though poetry was most prominent.
  • Great essayists of the era (Lamb, Hazlitt, and De Quincey) – transformed the informal essay of the 18th century into a more personal, more introspective Romantic composition.
romantic novelists
Romantic Novelists
  • Mary Shelley
  • Romantic novelists did not make a sharp break with the past. They held onto Gothic ideas and used standard ingredients in their writing – brave heroes and heroines, threatening scoundrels, vast eerie castles, and ghosts.
  • Romantics had a fascination with the mystery of the supernatural that made novels of this type popular during this time.
romantic novelists cont
Romantic Novelists, cont.
  • Jane Austen
  • The novel of manners – a satirical eye on British customs
  • Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice
  • Her social satire are more reflective of the classical sensibilities of 18th century rather than the notions of the new Romantic age