The Victorian "spirit", and 4 representative poems (50 pts.)
The Victorian spirit is the change from the idleness of the admiration of natural things to the movement and excitement of innovation and change itself. It has turned from the love makes the world go 'round ideal of the Romantics to a tell it like it is attitude. While the Victorian spirit moves to new explorations and energies from what was traditional - submission by women, dominance of men, and the focus on reaching an Ideal World through the beauty of nature - it maintains many aspects of the Romantic period that it is trying to escape.
C. Rossetti's "No, Thank You, John"
In Rossetti's "No, Thank You, John," the speaker is a woman who is refusing the advances of a man - John. The woman has a mind of her own, and she does not need a man in her life. She does not conform to the traditional role of a woman, which includes servitude and subordination. The woman is not afraid to express her true feelings to John here, where in a previous time, a woman would have jumped at the chance to be some guy's trophy. The woman in this poem portrays the Victorian characteristic of exploration in a sense. She is exploring life as a single woman instead of sacrificing herself and giving in to a man that she cares very little about.
A. C. Swinburne's "A Forsaken Garden"
In Swinburne's "A Forsaken Garden," we see a reference of the Romantic past linked with the Victorian present. The garden was once filled with beautiful flowers, bushes, trees, and lovers who sat in the garden to admire all of the beauty. Just as the garden was filled with these things, so was the poetry of the Romantics. Since the Victorian spirit is about laboring and being on the go, one has had neither the time nor the desire to care for the garden. As a result, the garden has become a ground filled with weeds, thorns, and withered, dying, and dead flora. Just as the Romantic period and all of its ideals were at this time, "Love was dead" (line 48).
O. Wilde's "Impression du Matin"
Wilde's "Impression du Matin" somewhat describes the transition from the Romantic period to the Victorian period and the grand contrast between the two periods. The first eight lines describe a landscape, as do many of the Romantic poems. Just like the Victorians were anxious to change the pattern that the Romantics had set, this poem shifts its focus from the beauty of the land to the hustle and bustle that is the Victorian spirit, fueled by the Industrial Revolution.
O. Wilde's "The Harlot's House"
Wilde's "The Harlot's House" can be related to John Ruskin's "The Stones of Venice." Ruskin talks about people becoming tools in the Industrial Revolution, performing the same monotonous tasks over and over again so that the process is almost mechanical. In "The Harlot's House," the people have become tools not of industrialism, but of artistry. They dance because the music is playing, and their movements seem to be controlled by some stronghold instead of being free and from the heart. The energy characteristic of the Victorian period and the Victorian spirit are lost inside the house. The lover of the speaker even loses her own energy while listening to the music and watching the people inside the house. At the same time, she goes inside the house to fulfill the Victorian characteristic of exploration - she is going to explore and participate in something new and different.
Browning's dramatic monologues and their ironic discrepancy (30 pts.)
In "Andrea del Sarto," Andrea attempts to paint the picture that he is one of the world's greatest artists with a wonderful, beautiful, loving wife. Dose of reality: his work is only mediocre, his marriage fell apart a while ago, and his wife is cheating on him, which he is aware of and seems to be okay with. Andrea believes that his work would be even greater if he was a single man (lines 135-136). He comes to realize that he will never be the great artist that...
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