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|
|God dwells in mathematical tables||God dwells in the hearts of men|
|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.
|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|
|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|
|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.