For studying convenience purposes we will divide the ROMANTIC AGE in three separate sections, the first combines those authors that are normally considered EARLY ROMANTIC AGE writers, followed by the FIRST GENERATION OF ROMANTIC POETS and, finally, with the SECOND GERNERATION OF ROMANTIC POETS.
Before focussing on each EARLY ROMANTIC AGE writer, what follows is a brief outline of all of them and their main characteristics, so as to have a broader idea of what will be our program for the next following weeks.
THOMAS GRAY (1716-1771)
- Transitional poet;
- Slowly breaks with Neoclassical conventions and introduces new Romantic themes insofar as subject-matter is concerned, however he maintains the poetic structure and language of the earlier tradition;
- Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751)
WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827)
- Engraver and artist, his work has influenced contemporary music as well;
- He outlined a new role for the artist;
- “Divine Vision” of the poet through which he states the importance of imagination over reason;
- Complementary Opposites – good and evil coexist in human nature and they are the tension that allows progression;
- He is sensitive about the political and social problems of his time and is aware of the evil consequences of the Industrial Revolution;
- Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) are his most accessible literary works and they represent the two different periods of his artistic and political development; he is also the author of many prophetic works which are more difficult and complex because he creates his own mythology and symbols.
MARY WOLLSTONECRAFT SHELLEY (1797-1851)
- She is sensitive about all the ideas and qualms of the English intellectuals of her time;
- Her best known work is the novel Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (1818);
- The main themes of the novel are:
(1) the thirst for forbidden knowledge permeating the entire book;
(2) the grasp of Nature’s secret, which in turn contains the theme of the overreacher in Walton and Frankenstein(Myth of Prometheus);
(3) the theme of the double: Doctor Frankenstein and his creature are two aspects of the same being, anticipating the double identity of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson;
(4) taking over female role: in fact,through Dr Frankenstein’s scientific experiment the reproduction of man can take place even without the participation of women;
(5) social prejudices and moral judgement, the creature is different than most thus a monster and consequently an outcast;
(6) the importance of education and experience (John Locke’s theories,thanks to
which the monster learns conventions and human customs and thus undergoes intellectual and emotional development.
© L. R. Capuana