1. The American Revolution and the French Revolution happened right before the Romantic period of literature. America gaining it's independence was a huge economic loss for England and it caused them to lose prestige and military confidence. The French Revolution led to a wave of democratic idealism in Europe which caused the ruling elite in England to implement restrictive conservative economic and political measures.
Another major event in England at the time was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Goods were now being mass-produced in factories, and this meant that most of the people who had been farmers in the countryside were now working in densely populated mill towns. Factory workers did not have to be very skilled and so child labor increased. Businessman and industrialists began to compete with the nobles in wealth. Overall, it was a time of great change.
2. I think for most normal people, life must have been hard during these times. For one, they had to move from where they used to work in the countryside to big industrial cities to find work. They would have dangerous jobs working in factories for long hours, and they would go home to very crowded and poor living conditions. The laissez-faire economy meant that the poor got poorer while the rich got richer, and the country was at war with France for a long time during this period.
3. The Romantic poets were idealistic, and they wanted to express youth and innocence. They were fascinated with "growing up," and they believed that emotions were as important if not more important than reason in terms of developing a sense of will and identity in order to better adapt to change and to create positive change in the future.
The Romantics also wanted to express the relationship of man with nature. They admired the mysterious forces of nature that caused change, not seeing them as hostile. They thought about the relationship of the human mind and nature instead of just nature itself.
The Romantics also wanted to express the importance of the human imagination. They believed that the human mind could create in the same way God or the forces of nature create by using their imaginations. They emphasized speaking from the heart and using spontaneity to get at the truth.
The Chimney Sweeper by William Blake (http://www.everypoet.com/archive/poetry/william_blake/william_blake_songs_of_innocence_the_chimney_sweeper.htm)
This poem is written in first person from a chimney sweeper's point of view. Chimney sweeper's were usually children, and the narrator of this poem says he was sold to be a sweeper after his mother died before he could barely cry, "weep, weep, weep." This sweeper is optimistic and tells a story of his friend Tom Dacre who had a vision where an angel came and freed all the chimney sweepers from their "coffins of black" and took them first outside to a green plain and a river to wash them, and them up into the skies of heaven. The angel tells Tom that if he was good, then God would be his father, and he would always be joyful. The poem concludes with Tom awakening from his dream and happily picking up his bags and brush to go sweep chimney's in the cold, warmed by his innocent faith.
This poem has many characteristics of Romantic poetry. To begin with, the poet uses his imagination throughout the poem to create the point of view of a young chimney sweeper and the wonderful dream he had. Here is the passage which is especially imaginative:
"That thousands of sweepers, Dick, Joe, Ned, and Jack,
Were all of them locked up in coffins of black.
And by came an angel, who had a bright key,
And he opened the coffins, and set them all free;
Then down a green plain, leaping, laughing, they run
And wash in a river, and shine in the sun.
Then naked and white, all their bags left behind,
They rise upon clouds, and sport in the wind:"
The part where they went "down a green plain" and "wash in a river" shows how nature is valued during Romanticism; here they are cleansed of their suffering by being out in the outdoors. Also, the point of view is one of youth and innocence, which is what the Romantic poets wanted to express. Little Tom Dacre's optimistic attitude, is summed up in the final two lines of the poem:
"Though the morning was cold, Tom was happy and warm:
So, if all do their duty, they need not fear harm."
I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud by William Wordsworth
In this poem, the narrator is wandering around outside feeling lonely when he sees a crowd of daffodils beside a lake beneath some trees. Wordsworth uses similes and personification to compare the abundance of daffodils he sees with stars in the sky and with the ripples in the bay, and he describes the daffodils as dancing and being full of glee. He gazes and gazes at them without thinking of the effect they've had on him; when he gets home and sits on his couch he realizes how when his inner eye flashes back to that scene, he is filled with pleasure again.
This poem is an excellent example of how the Romantic poets wanted to express the beauty of nature and the effect it could have on the human mind. The narrator is feeling lonely, but he sees a "crowd" of daffodils which make him forget about his loneliness. Wordsworth gives the daffodils human characteristics, imagining that they are "Tossing their heads in sprightly dance." and describing them as "jocund." The ending also shows how the narrator is looking backward in time and reminiscing, which is a common characteristic of Romanticism, about the effect the sight of the daffodils had on him:
"I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."
Remind Me Not, Remind Me Not by George Gordon, Lord Byron
This is a love poem which starts off with a man reminiscing about when he was with the person he is writing it to. He is telling her not to remind him because he could never forget her fair features and their sweet love as they got nearer and nearer. Then he talks about missing those days and hours but still being able to relive them in dreams and fantasies until they are no more and are forgotten.
This is an example of a Romantic poem because the narrator is looking back in time and reliving the past and also because of the very emotional and lyrical style used. The style of writing is free-flowing and less like the neo-classical style which was used by the Restoration poets and there is a different type of rhyme scheme. It is like this throughout the poem, but a good example is this: "Can I forget---canst thou forget, When playing with thy golden hair, How quick thy fluttering heart did move? Oh! by my soul, I see thee yet, With eyes so languid, breast so fair, And lips, though silent, breathing love."
The Cloud by Percy Bysshe Shelley
This poem is told from the point of view of a cloud. Throughout the poem, Shelley basically explains all the things that clouds do and their interactions with other things in natures. He covers everything from the mountains, seas, skies, plants and trees to rocks, earthquakes, fire, thunder and lightning. He uses personification throughout to relate different aspects of nature to each other, showing how they're all interconnected, and in the end he explains how clouds never die.
This is a great example of the fascination with nature and it's power during the Romantic era of poetry. Nature was seen as beautiful and not hostile, and the Cloud in this poem is described as bringing "fresh showers for the thirsting flowers." This is also a very imaginitive poem, which is another characteristic of Romantic poetry. Shelley imagines Sunset breathing (And when Sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath, Its ardors of rest and of love) and lightning as being the pilot of the Cloud and keeping thunder in a cavern (Lightning, my pilot, sits; In a cavern under is fettered the thunder, It struggles and howls at fits.) The ending sums up Shelley's personification of the Cloud: "I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, And out of the caverns of rain, Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb, I arise and unbuild it again."
On the Grasshopper and Cricket by John Keats
This poem is about poetry found in nature and specifically about the song of grasshoppers. It talks about how when the birds get tired and stop singing, the grasshoppers are still making their noises. John Keats repeats this idea again saying that when it's freezing cold and everything is silent, the Cricket's song brings warmth.
This is an example of Romantic poetry because it uses very simple language and focuses on the effect of nature on people. During the Romantic era of poetry, poets wanted to appeal to everyone, instead of just to an elite group of people. John Keats repeats the idea that poetry is found everywhere by saying first, "The poetry of earth is never dead:" and then later on, "The poetry of earth is ceasing never:". This is also a very innocent and peaceful poem, which was another characteristic of Romantic poetry.
1. One of the major historical events of the Victorian period was the expansion of the railroad, steam engines, electricity, and the economic boom of the Industrial Revolution. This meant that more and more people left the countryside and England's cities became more and more developed. The new manufacturing power, and the ability of the railroad to transport goods all over the country at fast speeds meant that goods became cheaper and easier to obtain for the new middle and working classes of the cities. This made the Victorian period a time of great material progress.
Some other historical events were the social and political reforms that came out of the Victorian period. In 1842, a law was passed to ban women and children from working in mines. A series of Factory Acts limited child labor and reduced the normal working day to ten hours a day. State-supported schools were established in 1870, and they were made free in 1891. This led to a majority of the population becoming literate by 1900, when before it had only been a small group.
2. I think life for normal people was probably a lot better than it had been in earlier times in England. For one, England wasn't at war with any countries. There were a lot of exciting changes going on in England, and an increase in trade meant that people had access to goods and luxuries from other countries at cheaper prices because of the railroads they were coming on. Another positive change that came out of this era was that more and more people began to have political power as opposed to when it was the barons and the kings and queens that ruled England.
3. The biggest difference between the Romantic period and the Victorian period is that a large middle class emerged in the Victorian period which had more political power than they had before thanks to the Reform Act of 1832. This was caused by the expansion of the railroad and the huge economic growth that England was going through because of trade throughout it's empire and the Industrial Revolution. This affected literature because it meant that now writers were writing to please the large middle class instead of rich patrons as they had in the Romantic period. This era became famous for great British novels and more and more novelists made money from selling to the large reading middle class.
4. The Victorian poets did not reject the style of poetry that came before them as had the Romantic poets had done, so many of their themes are similar. One of the things the Victorian poets wanted to express were the conditions of life under the Victorian rules of propriety and morality. Under Queen Victoria, everything was more strict and there was a lot more prudery. This made some Victorian poetry more orderly and strictly formed than the poetry from the age before.
Another aspect of society which the Victorian poets wanted to express was how the Industrial Revolution had a lot of negatives along with the economic growth it brought. They wanted to promote social change by writing about the poor conditions that many British workers lived and worked under.
Some of the Victorian poets, called the Pre-Raphaelite poets were more like the Romantic poets and wanted to express medieval themes. The wanted to write about simple and natural things, focusing on visual detail. Their poetry was rich with symbolism.
The Captain by Alfred Lord Tennyson
This poem tells the tale of a British naval ship, it's captain, and it's crew. The captain is a cruel leader who would whip his crew for any light transgression and so his crew hates him. The captain hopes to make his ship famous so when he sees a French vessel he decides to charge after it. They meet and everything is silent as the two ships line up to fire at each other. All the British crew are killed and the ship sinks to the bottom of the sea.
This poem reflects the Victorian period because of the way it is written and because of the language used. It is written in a very standard form characteristic of the strict and proper way of life for people of the Victorian age. It starts off with a simple rhyme scheme pattern ABAB in the first four lines:
"He that only rules by terror
Doeth grievous wrong.
Deep as hell I count his error.
Let him hear my song."
This pattern is used continuously throughout the poem. Also, the language is simple and straight-forward, making it easily accessible to the large literate middle class of the time period.
Prospice by Robert Browning
This poem is about approaching death (probably on a battlefield). The narrator first asks the question whether he should fear death then describes it as a fog in his throat and a mist in his face, and then describes it as a storm looming near him. He answers his question by saying that he would want to face death in battle instead of letting him grow old ("I would hate that death bandaged my eyes and forbore, And bade me creep past.") He wants to die like the heroes of old. He finishes by saying that the worst will become the best to the brave and that his soul would rest with God.
This poem is an example of the Victorian poetry that echoed medieval times. It refers to chivalry where it was more noble to die in battle than to cower away from it. An example of the poem in this is, "11Though a battle's to fight ere the guerdon be gained,
12 The reward of it all.
13I was ever a fighter, so--one fight more,
14 The best and the last!"
There is also a great amount of symbolism in this poem, which is characteristic of the medieval themed Victorian poetry. Death is described as a "storm," a "fog," a "mist," and the "black minute." While this is an example of Victorian poetry, it's subject is not specifically of the Victorian age.
East London by Matthew Arnold
This is a short poem that takes place in East London. First the narrator sees a pale weaver looking out of his window. After that he talks to a preacher he meets there and asks him how he's doing since he is ill and overworked. The preacher responds by saying he's been consoled by his thoughts of Christ, the living bread. The narrator then exclaims how powerful the human soul is (or maybe he is referring to the priest) and says it is fit for the heaven it hopes for.
This is an example of Victorian poetry because it describes simply and plainly a scene in a poorer part of London. The sun is described as being smoting on the "squalid streets of Bethnal green." The pale weaver is described as looking "thrice dispirited" and the priest is "ill and o'erworked." The end of the poem is idealistic and speaks of the power of the human soul to overcome these poor situations, which makes this poem like many of the poems from the Romantic era.
The Man He Killed by Thomas Hardy
This poem starts off with the narrator saying that if he had met this other man at an inn, they would have a few drinks together, but since he met him on a battlefield he shot at him and killed him as they were staring face to face. The narrator then says that they both had enlisted in the army for the same reason (they were out of work and had sold their "traps".) The narrator finally reflects how curious war is when you'd shoot someone that if you had met in an inn you would treat to a drink.
This is an example of Victorian poetry because it is short and to the point. The common people who were just learning to read at this time would be able to easily understand this poem. The whole poem could be summed up in the last quattrain:
"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."