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Romanticism versus Neoclassicism

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Romanticism versus Neoclassicism

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  • Jan. 31, 2005
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Neoclassical and Romantic movements cover the period of 1750 to 1850. Neoclassicism showed life to be more rational than it really was. The Romantics favoured an interest in nature, picturesque, violent, sublime. Unlike Neo_classicism, which stood for the order, reason, tradition, society, intellect and formal diction, Romanticism allowed people to get away from the constrained rational views of life and concentrate on an emotional and sentimental side of humanity. In this movement the emphasis was on emotion, passion, imagination, individual and natural diction. Resulting in part from the liberation and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution, the romantic movement had in common only a revolt against the rules of classicism. There are obviously a lot of distinctions between these two movements and here I am going to compare and contrast these two movements in English literature by considering the principles and writers and works of writers which exhibit these differences in both periods.

Neoclassicism was an artistic and intellectual movement, beginning in the mid-17th century in England, both progressive and traditional in its goal of rivaling the literary and artistic accomplishments of Augustus Caesar's day and the classical period in general. This movement could be characterized as a "religion of the head." On the contrary, Romanticism was an artistic and intellectual movement that spread across Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century. This movement was a reaction in direct opposition to the Age of Reason in its understanding of human happiness and the means to achieve it. This literary revolution could be characterized as a "religion of the heart."

Neoclassical writers imitated great poems of the past because of the belief that men had agreed on certain, fixed ways of writing across the centuries. Rules for pastoral poetry, the satire and the epic were respectfully followed. A Neoclassical poet's philosophy argued that the best way for...