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University of Sarajevo
Faculty of Philosophy
English Department
Poetry of English Pre-romanticism

NATURE IN CLASSICISM AND ROMANTICISM

Student : Emina Husejinović Sarajevo, December 2012 Mentor : Faruk Bajraktarevic

Introduction

In the end of the 18th century, Romanticism came out as a response to Classicism. This change was moderate but nevertheless, it could be seen in literature, philosophy, art etc. The classical approach to world was bound and determined and classicists had seen world around them as having a steady structure. Unlike them, romanticists viewed world as a place where they could freely express their ideas and create marvelous literature without boundaries. Romanticists and classicists differed in many things. Most importantly, the way of thinking about society they belonged to and the way they experienced nature. But also, rationality and imagination had a completely diverse meaning to both classicists and romanticists. Classicists had no affection for nature. “They often portrayed it as beautiful but chaste, like a formal garden.”1 Romanticists on the other hand, adored nature, were inspired by it and found it fascinating.

Classicism

“Some 18th c. philosophers asserted that human beings are naturally good and find their highest happiness in the existence of virtue and benevolence. Such a view of human nature we describe as ‘sentimental’. It found the source of virtue in instinctive and social impulses rather than in a code of conduct sanctioned by divine law. And people began to feel pleasure in the exercise of benevolent impulses.”2 Classicism and Romanticism can almost be considered as enemies. One’s goal was to depict and display the ultimate truth of life and the other wanted to show pictures of fierce and raw emotions that emerged after the Revolution 2

______________________________________________________________________ 1 Dr. Larry E. Gates, Jr. “Romanticism.” Retrieved December 11, 2012 on the World Wide Web: http://www.historydoctor.net/Advanced%20Placement%20European%20History/Notes/Romanticism.htm 2 Ina Mititelu (2010) “History of British Literature from Origins to the Age of Reason” (Book,pdf) Retrieved December10, 2012 on World Wide Web: http://www.usch.md/Documents/Note20de20curs/Filologie%20Engleza/Note%20de%20curs%20Mititelu_doc.pdf

Popular classical belief was also that human nature was consistent, unable to change. This belief was the reason for Greek and Latin plays become popular once more and serve as the model fot this period. Classicism relied on antient writers and there was no imagination only imitation. Therefore, no new ideas were born but instead new ways to express classical thinking served the purpose. Poetry had a specific role. It served for public matters and tried to fulfill the purpose of moral guidance and instruction to the readers. Poetry was not intended for private expression of personal emotions or imagination. “Classicism was based on the idea that nature and human nature could be understood by reason and thought. Classicist believed that nature was, a self-contained machine, like a watch, whose laws of operation could be rationally understood. Romanticists viewed nature as mysterious and ever changing.”3 Poets in the period of Classicism focused on three things: realism, didacticism and satire. In the rare cases when the subject was in fact nature, poets would have a didactic approach to it. They would write about social connotations that had nothing to do with the wildness and beauty of nature. They were unwishful to describe nature in its proper way. These poets were respected members of society and thought inappropriate to turn into noble savages, instead they despised everything primitive and barbaric. The function of literature or poetry in particular was to include realism so they chose to write...
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