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Literature - a Mirror of Society. The French Revolution.

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Literature - a Mirror of Society. The French Revolution.

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  • March 13, 2003
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Literature - a Mirror of Society

The literature of a country is affected and influenced by how

the people of that country live. This paper will prove that The

French Revolution greatly influenced 19th Century French Romanticism.

First, the cultural values of the revolution will be identified.

Then, the different aspects of Romanticism will be presented. The

cultural values of The French Revolution and Romanticism will then be

linked. Finally, literary examples will be shown to support this

connection between the two movements.

Before the Revolution, the citizens of France lived in a

strict, confined society with no freedom to express their feelings.

Government had imposed strong, unfair laws on the common people

(Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia "French Revolution"). They

wanted a voice in a stable government with a strong economy (Johnson

105) and a strong sense of individuality and independence within the

people. (Moss and Wilson 180)

Eighteenth- century literature was much like the society in

which it was produced, restrained. Society was divided into

privileged and unprivileged classes, (Leinward 452) with Eighteenth-

century writers focusing on the lives of the upper class. (Thompson

857) These writers followed "formal rules"(Thorlby 282), and based

their works on scientific observations and logic (Thompson 895).

The Revolution gave the common people and writers more freedom

to express feelings and stimulated them to use reason. According to

Thompson, The Revolution "had a major impact on Nineteenth- Century

European Life." (895) It sent a strong wave of emotion and revival

throughout France (Peyre 59). This lead to new laws and standards for

the citizens, including newer, less imposing literary standards.

Romanticism marked a profound change in both literature and

thought. Romanticism, according to Webster's Dictionary, is defined

as "a literary movement (as in early...