Romanticism and Imagination

Topics: Romanticism, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Wuthering Heights Pages: 4 (1413 words) Published: February 23, 2013
Write an essay in which you explore the interplay of imagination and the human experience in Romanticism.

Composers in the Romantic era challenged the constraints of a society upheaved by events such as the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, which they perceived to be devoid of meaning. They hence championed that the individual should embrace a relationship involving the interplay of the imagination with the human experience of nature and of emotion. Composers such as Samuel Coleridge in his poems Frost at Midnight and This Lime Tree Bower my Prison and This Lime Tree Bower my Prison and William Wordsworth in his poem The World is Too Much With Us and Johann Goethe in his novel The Sorrows of Young Werther and Emily Bronte in her novel Wuthering Heights.

One of the challenges made by Romantic composers was their endeavour to overcome what they perceived to be an existence devoid of the human experience of nature and the imagination, which many of them valued. This existence was a socio-economic by-product of the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment, which resulted in a scientific and rational way of thinking.

These events spawned what through a Marxist lens would be termed the ‘cash nexus’, an existence and system of thinking that is based on materialism. Wordsworth challenges the ‘cash nexus’ in The World is Too Much With Us, criticising it in the structure of the Petrarchan sonnet form by defining it as a human dilemma in the octet. In it he bemoans the meaningless capitalist society that privileges ‘getting and spending’ over a fulfilling human experience of nature and subsequently imagination, as established by his significant lack of imagery. Bronte in Wuthering Heights has a similar message, challenging the hierarchical structure of Victorian society in a period of class revolt. Catherine and Heathcliff in their childhood reject the restrictive cultural confines of their society for nature, as evident in the simile: ‘growing up as...
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