Romanticism in English literature of the Beginning of the 19th Century (The Age of Romanticism)
Britain became a large trading empire. The cities grew fast. London remained the largest one. In the 19th century Britain was at its height and self confidence. It was called the "workshop" of the world. The rich feared the poor both in the countryside and in the fast-growing towns. Nevertheless the great emphasis was made on the individual based on interdependence of Man and Nature.
During the second half of the 18th century economic and social changes took place in England. The country went through the so-called Industrial Revolution when new industries sprang up and new processes were applied to the manufacture of traditional products. During the reign of King George III (1760-1820) the face of England changed. The factories were built, the industrial development was marked by an increase in the export of finished cloth rather than of raw material, coal and iron industries developed. Internal communications were largely funded. The population increased from 7 mln to 14 mln people. Much money was invested in road- and canal-building. The first railway line which was launched in 1830 from Liverpool to Manchester allowed many people inspired by poets of Romanticism to discover the beauty of their own country. Romanticism was the greatest literary movement in the period between 1770-1840. It meant the shift of sensibility in art and literature and was based on interdependence of Man and Nature. It was a style in European art, literature and music that emphasized the importance of feeling, emotion and imagination rather than reason or thought. Romanticism in literature was the reaction of the society not only to the French Revolution of 1789 but also to the Enlightenment connected with it. The common people didn't get what they had expected: neither freedom nor equality. The bourgeoisie was disappointed as well, because the capitalist way of development hadn't been prepared by the revolution yet. And the feudals suffered from the Revolution, because it was the Revolution that had made them much weaker. Everybody was dissatisfied with the result. In such a situation the writers decided to solve the social problems by writing. In England the Romantic authors were individuals with many contrary views. But all of them were against immoral luxuries of the world, against injustice and inequality of the society, against suffering and human selfishness. The period of Romanticism in England had its peculiarities. The Romantic writers of England did not call themselves romanticists (like their French and German contemporaries). Nevertheless, they all depicted the interdependence of Man and Nature. The Romantic writers based their theories on the intuition and the wisdom of the heart. On the other hand, they were violently stirred by the suffering of which they were the daily witnesses. They hoped to find a way of changing the social order by their writing, they believed in literature being a sort of Mission to be carried out in order to reach the wisdom of the Universe. The Industrial Revolution in England had a great influence on the cultural life of the country. The writers tried to solve the problems, but we can't treat all the Romantics of England as belonging to the same literary school. William Blake (1757-1827) was bitterly disappointed by the downfall of the French Revolution. His young contemporaries, Samuel Coleridge (1772— 1834) and William Wordsworth (1770-1850), both were warm admirers of the French Revolution, both escaped from the evils of big cities and settled in the quietness of country life, in the purity of nature, among unsophisticated country-folk. Living in the Lake country of Northern England, they were known as the Lakists. The Late Romantics, George Byron (1788-1824), Percy Shelley (1792-1822), and John Keats (1795-1821), were young rebels and reflected the interests of the common...
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