Essay, Research Paper: John Keat`s Romantism

Literature: Romanticism

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Identify and discuss the elements of Romanticism as given expression in John
Keats' poem Lamia and William Wordsworth's excerpt from The Excursion. The term
'romanticism' is used to describe the aesthetic movement during the period from
about 1776-1834. It was a revolutionary movement because it focused on ideals
which in stark contrast to the 'Classical' movement, The Enlightenment, which
preceded it. More importantly however is the fact that it reflected the social
climate of the period which with the development of the French Revolution was in
itself revolutionary. Rationalism, empiricism, materialism and mechanism were
the central were the central philosophies of The Enlightenment and was therefore
a period in literature that focused on the precision of the form and content of
the piece rather than its inspiration (******). In contrast, Romanticism brought
the attention back to the individual. The era of reason was replaced with a new
passion for mystery and the supernatural, freedom of thought and expression, an
idealisation and pantheistic belief in nature, and the affirmation of the
creative (and divine) powers of the imagination. Truth could be arrived at
through imagination and emotional faculties rather than reason.(Kitson, 1996).
Romanticism can therefore be viewed as a "reaction of emotion against
reason, nature against artificiality, simplicity against complexity, faith
against skepticism" (lecture 10/3/00). Rene Wellek beautifully and
succinctly describes the spirit of Romanticism in his assertion,
"Imagination for the view of poetry, nature for the view of the world, and
the symbol and myth for poetic style" (lectures, 2000). The catchcry for
the period therefore shifted from "I think therefore I am (Descartes)
" to "I imagine therefore I am human". The value placed upon
expression of these notions in the works of those such as John Keats and William
Wordworth, effectively marked their poetic contributions as part of the 'voice'
of the Romantic movement.
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