The Age of Romanticism

Romanticism is a name given to the period in the Arts which were inspired by similar ideas.

In the 18th century before this was the 'Age of Reason'
Thinkers believed that God had conveniently constructed the universe on scientific principles and that the newly emerging sciences (eg. Isaac Newton) were just 'explaining it'. They believed the world was artificially tidy and that art, nature etc were subject to mechanical laws. There was an emphasis on reason, on abstract laws - everything could be measured. This was the legacy of the move into the scientific age (enlightenment) from the religious age (the dark ages)

Romanticism was inspired by revolutionary idealism (1789 French Revolution) and rejected this rigid social and intellectual hierarchy and replaced it with wildness and emotion.

These two ages can be differentiated in the following ways:

Age of Reason (or 'Classicism') Romanticism
   
Abstract laws Feeling
Reason Intuition
God dwells in mathematical tables God dwells in the hearts of men
  Active forces
  French Revolution
  Idealist Philosophy
  Supreme importance of the mind
Man regimented, made orderly Individualism
Life- mechanistic Life - Organic
General theories/dogma Private Vision
Conformity/tidiness Emotions, Personal Intuition (often to excess)

Romanticism- added a new dimentsion of man's vision and was 'a magnificent attempt to reconcile the heart and the head'. In literature, there was a daring literary excess: ornamental, gothic, passionate love, religious fervour, laziness, suicide, a resurgence of interest in medieval chivalry and history.

These ideas and concepts resonated through all creative works (music, art, literature) of the time.

In Nature

c18th Classicism Romanticism
Planned gardens Raw nature
Man's imposition Wildness of extreme landscapes
Ordered, controlled vistas Uncontrollable by man
Artificial, picturesque Peaks, gorges
Sublime Realism' - True expression of divinity - provokes raw emotions
Morally uplifting. Spirituality
Healing
Man- exploits (destroys nature) Nature is inspirational
Human interference - useful and beneficial Human in awe of wild
Taken for Granted Beauty and Fear'- nature as parent, guide, teacher

In Poetry

c18th Classicism Romanticism
Controlled, poetic conceits Incidents from everyday life
Very constructed nature Language of ordinary man (vernacular)
Metre/rhyme rigid Make incidents 'live' again
Gaudy phraseology True to our nature
Abstract ideas Humble, rustic life where the individual is the hero
Mechanical devices of style Plainness, more emphatic language 'Unelaborated'
(eg. Pope, Dryden) Spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings
Interest in psychology (wordsworth, coleridge)

Romanticism was a rejection of complacency and accepted social and literary hierarchy. With revolution, both political and industrial, all certainties were crumbling. Man - once the greatest glory of Nature - now seemed in danger of destroying himself. Search therefore for other beliefs, in the self. Youth was now a fountain of wisdom, not Age, and Dreams and Imagination were valued.



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