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The Romantic Era British Literature. Pre-Romantic era (1750 – 1798) Britain rapidly becoming an industrial nation, with all its problems 12 and 14 hour.

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Presentation on theme: "The Romantic Era British Literature. Pre-Romantic era (1750 – 1798) Britain rapidly becoming an industrial nation, with all its problems 12 and 14 hour."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Romantic Era British Literature

2 Pre-Romantic era (1750 – 1798) Britain rapidly becoming an industrial nation, with all its problems 12 and 14 hour workdays in factories, crowding in cities, unemployment rising writers and intellectuals losing faith in idea that human reason and science will solve every problem – “progress” no longer so attractive common language of everyday beginning to appear in writing – turn away from formality and high style of neoclassical writing

3 1787 – Robert Burns publishes Poems: Chiefly in Scottish (contained dialect, had natural settings) “wee sleekit lil’ mousie…”

4 Blake was awesome… srsly. William Blake ( ), poet ahead of his time unappreciated by most – died poor and relatively unknown simple language in poetry with unique spelling mystical ideas in poems, which attacked rapidly industrializing Britain O Hai… ya, im kewl.

5 French Revolution begins July 14, 1789 with storming of the Bastille revolutionaries impose restrictions on monarchy Declaration of the Rights of Man, affirming “liberty, equality, fraternity” ruling class in England threatened by French Revolution; most intellectuals applauded its democratic ideals warnings of dire consequences

6 Louis, Louis! Oh, No! French monarchy, King Louis XVI, sent to guillotine French revolutionaries executed royalists, moderates, even radicals Britons react with alarm – support for Revolution erodes – France declares war on England, starting twenty-two years of conflicts What do you mean my shoes are untied? Ack, my head.

7 Napoleon and his cute, little wars… 1799 – Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader 1805 – plans invasion of Britain and fails 1807 – Napoleon’s armies control almost all of Europe 1812 – invades Russia, suffers bloody defeats in winter 1815 – defeated by Duke of Wellington at Waterloo restoration of monarchial authority in Europe

8 Societal Problems in Great Britain British government ignores problems caused by Industrial Revolution government helps employers to crush workers’ unions Luddite Riots – workers violently protest new machinery that replaces jobs Peterloo Massacre (1819) – mounted soldiers attack peaceful meeting of cotton workers, kill several weak and ineffectual kings prime ministers grew in power

9 Beginnings of Romanticism in Europe writers saw political changes on horizon, envisioned democracy disappointed by events in France and England, writers turned to literary pursuits

10 Beginnings of Romanticism in Great Britain 1798 – William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge publish Lyrical Ballads argued for a new set of poetic standards – break with neoclassicism defined poetry as “the spontaneous overflow of human feelings... recollected in tranquility” poetry should deal with “incidents and situations from common life” which poet should frame with “a certain coloring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented... in an unusual way” nature not a force to be tamed or scientifically examined, but an inspirational force

11 later Romantic poets – Byron, Shelley, Keats Romantic novels – Gothic novel, novel of manners, historical romance Gothic Novel – brave heroes / heroines, scoundrels, castles, ghosts (Jane Eyre) novel of manners – satires of British customs (Sense and Sensibility)

12 Victorian Historical Notes More notes? Yes, please!

13 Two quotes to bear in mind... “The sun never sets on the British Empire” - height of Britain’s colonialism & power England was “the workshop of the world” - leading industrial force

14 Queen Victoria ( ) longest reigning British monarch - sixty-four years presided over greatest period of change in British history not a politically powerful monarch - inspirational and motivational married German first cousin Albert, who became prince consort (not king) initially unpopular choice for husband gave Victoria wise and impartial advise restored sense of decorum to monarchy lacking since days of “mad” King George III

15 The Queen becomes a widow… Albert’s death in 1861 sent Victoria into prolonged mourning Victoria left day-to-day affairs in hands of prime minister this helped establish constitutional monarchy of today

16 Period of growth and change Political and economic change - Reform Laws reorganized Parliament for fairer representation (middle class) abolished slavery in 1833 cut down on child labor hours (though comparatively little) new political and economic theories laissez-faire: gov’t should avoid meddling in business reformist liberalism: gov’t intervention/regulation sometimes necessary in era of rapid growth and change to protect rights socialism: end private ownership of major industries in favor of public (gov’t) ownership; promote equality and help poor

17 Social change rise of the middle class aristocracy lessened in power - monarchy becomes symbolic working classes remain subjugated to awful working/living conditions

18 Different Theories of Society rise of Marxism: view of history as constant struggle between bourgeoisie and proletariat or working classes, who always lose - workers will eventually unite and overthrow bourgeoisie and capitalists Utilitarianism: “the greatest good for the greatest number” Religious growth and change evangelical Protestantism - YMCA, Salvation Army founded

19 Scientific and Industrial change steam engine, telephone, telegraph and wireless all invented Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) challenged long-held religious beliefs about Biblical “truth” (the Creation story) pioneer work on geology, heredity time of great prosperity- but not for all

20 Victorian Literature Romanticism - growing mainstream, somewhat stale Realism - sought to portray human life realistically, as it was down-to-earth, reflected democratic ideas and values focused on middle-class readers and their interests Naturalism - sought to apply techniques of scientific observation to writing about life in an industrial age - crammed novels with details poetry reflected all three “isms” - great variety

21 Save the drama for... you know. drama seemed flat and uninspiring - only toward end of century did playwrights such as Oscar Wilde (satirist) create memorable work

22 What about ze books? the age of the novel - huge demand from middle-class audiences Romanticism influenced early novels (Jane Eyre) Charles Dickens most popular author - grimy industrial England Naturalism more prevalent at close of century popular detective novels (Sherlock Holmes) and adventure stories (Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island)


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