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Shelley vs Peacock

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  • April 2013
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Name: Kelda Power
I.d number: 09004503
Submission date: 11-3-2013
Lecturer: John McDonagh
Word count: 1,265

Question: Both Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘A defence of poetry’ and Thomas Love Peacock’s ‘The four ages of poetry’ are essays that debate the utilitarianism of poetry. Compare and contrast their approaches.

Utilitarianism can be described as a theory which suggests a theory of good and a theory of right. From the utilitarian theory of right comes the idea the righteousness comes from goodness. Both Shelley and Peacock can be categorized as poets of the romantic genre. Romanticism in poetry, having dated from the eighteenth century in Europe, highlights an individual’s expression of emotion and imagination, particularly in opposition to classicalism, social forms and convention. This essay will hope to highlight Shelley and Peacocks use of satire, and the similarities and dissimilarities between how each poet approaches the utilitarianism of poetry. Firstly, it is important to acknowledge the similarities in both Shelley and Peacock’s approach to the utilitarian poetry; however, it is the dissimilarities in their techniques which cause their works to differ. It is widely considered that Peacock’s work had great bearing on Shelley’s ‘Defence of Poetry’. As well as Shelley introducing new ideas and views on romanticism was based on the original ideas introduced in Peacock’s ‘The four ages of poetry’. One can assume that ‘The four ages of poetry’ was the basis for Shelley’s ‘Defence of poetry’. ‘’A year after Peacock had given up his life as a free poet he published an essay, ‘The Four ages of poetry’ which on the surface is a devastating attack on poetry as being out moded and superfluous intellectual activity in a modern and progressive society’’ From this quote, it is evident the Peacock is behaving typically of a romantic poet and attacking the previously engrained conventions of classical poetry. He is paradoxically questioning poetic tradition in...

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