Exam 1 Study Guide, ENGL 231: British Authors > 1800
Exam 1 Study Guide, ENGL 231: British Authors > 1800 ENGL 231
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Date Created: 09/26/16
DeFor 1 ENGL 231: British Authors > 1800 Study Guide for Exam 1: The Romantic Period The Romantic Period as a Transitional Time ● 1800 CE begins a period known as the Great Divide. C. S. Lewis remarked on this transitional period: ○ Politics: rulers were rejected in favor of leaders ○ Art: teaching based on pure aesthetics was rejected in favor of the ideals of irony and ambiguity within art ○ Religion: Christianity was rejected in favor of materialism ○ Popular mythology: machines restructured perceptions, creating the belief that newer is better ● The “Great Chain of Being” is Based on hierarchy ○ God > Angels > people > animate nature > inanimate nature > demons ○ Angels, people, animate nature and inanimate nature all have inner hierarchies ● The French Revolution shows a shift from Catholicism to rationality. ● British authors of the time fell to the liberal, more progressive part of the belief spectrum during this time period. Themes and Ideas of the Romantic Period: ● A poet associates travel with creation and imagination. ● The Romantic view of children was that they were naturally born innocent, they were naturally good, and they could lead adults by example of goodness. This was a push against the previous, Calvinist view that children were born in sin and needed to be punished as they were raised to teach them good. The way that children marvel at nature is to be envied, as adults have lost this sense of wonder. ● A lot of children tragically die in Romantic poetry. ● Poetry is supposed to be a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,” which was strikingly different to the common practice of careful, exact, meticulous structure. ● Blank verse is a form of poetry that is written in iambic pentameter but does not follow any sort of rhyme scheme. This writing style was good for contemplative poetry, or poetry filled with deep and serious thought. ● Isomorphism: a relationship between the mind and the physical land ● Nature provides a religious experience. ● Abundant recompense is the Romantic idea that as a child, finding out that Death and Loss are real takes something away from you, and you have to find something in life that makes up for that sense of loss. ● Poets often used an emotionally charged “Therefore” that doesn’t actually follow any sort of logical reasoning. ● Romantic poems often turned into a blessing for someone else. ● References to fairies or Fairy-Land were very common. ● Romantic poetry often takes a Pantheistic view of nature, which asks, “What if Nature is God?” ● Synesthesia in poetry is a conscious mix of sensory faculties. ● Palinode: a “poem-response” to another poem ● Apotheosis: artistic term, memorializing through excessive praise of some sort of hero after his death ● There is a shift of focus from first-wave Romanticism to second-wave Romantic poets from nature to art. Poets and Authors: ● William Wordsworth ○ Some notes on his life: ■ Wordsworth was inspired by the French Revolution, and he went to France to support it. ● While he was there, he fell in love and had a child with a woman named Annette Vallon. ● He then had to run for his life to get away from the French trying to kill him, and in the process, he abandoned Annette. He possibly never got to meet his child. ○ Works: ■ “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” ● Tintern Abbey had been destroyed during the English rebellion against Catholicism during the Reformation period. People would go to the location of what once was Tintern Abbey in order to feel the pleasurable sorrow that was nostalgia for the loss of the Abbey’s charity and hospitality. The guilt that he felt from leaving Annette is apparent throughout the poem. ● This poem talks about Wordsworth admiring the countryside, and the amazing and refreshing experience that looking at nature gives him. ● He expresses in the poem that his memory of this nature-scene from the past has made him a better person and that the reason to be in nature is to make your life better later through reflection on the scenes from nature. This could be tied to Pantheism, and he DeFor 2 lowkey got in trouble for making Pantheistic statements in his poetry. He makes it sound as though nature is the source of all of the good in his being. ● “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” is written in blank verse. Blank verse is a form of poetry that is written in iambic pentameter but does not follow any sort of rhyme scheme. This writing style was good for contemplative poetry, or poetry filled with deep and serious thought. ● Isomorphism, or a relationship between the mind and the physical land, is present in the way that nature influences Wordsworth’s consciousness throughout the poem. ● Wordsworth imagines the fires in the distance are made by hermits, which by this time period were paid to live in “hermitages” as an accessory instead of being real hermits that went away for religious solitude. Wordsworth would have known that these fires were really made by gypsies living out in the woods, but he possibly chose to represent these fires as coming from hermits in order to show that nature provides a religious experience. ■ “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” ● Wordsworth wrote about the idea that we can gain back the childhood wonder we lose as adults in this work. ● The power that walking has for a poet is shown in Wordsworth’s use of “know/go” as a rhyme. ● Philosophy associated with this poem: ○ People gradually forget the perfection from which they come and to which they will return. This is similar to the sun rising and setting. ○ The child beholds the sight of nature-scenes because they are a way of reminding us of the perfection from which they come. Nature is our foster-mother in this land and tries to provide reminders of the perfection from which we come. ○ Because children still have the ability to remember the beautiful paradise through nature, and Wordsworth refers to them as “Philosopher,” “Prophet,” and “Seer.” ○ The “shades of the prison-house” refer to school. Reason begins to break off that intuitive reverence that children have towards nature. ○ As children grow, the beautiful light of nature becomes common light, as they lose the childhood reverence of nature. ● This poem bemoans the “adult” desire of kids in play (i.e. make believe as adults.) The horror of reality is that we become tropes and imitations in our adult life with no originality, hopeless to break free. (Why do children want to grow up, anyway? What’s so great about bills?) ● He reflects on his adult view of nature, and concludes that he loves nature more now because his view is underlaid with human suffering. This ties back to abundant recompense. ● The ending, in which he reflects on and is moved to great emotion by the humble, dying flower, shows the isomorphic idea of the philosophic mind that is tied to nature. ● Samuel Coleridge: ○ Some notes on his life: ■ He was an opium addict, and his visions were reflected in his writing. ■ His father was a vicar. When his father died, Coleridge was sent to Christ’s Hospital, a school for poor and gifted kids. It was run by a sadist, and Coleridge was miserable there. He met Wordsworth during this time, and they became close friends. ■ When Coleridge was close to flunking out, he ran away to join the British Royal Dragoons, which is similar to the American Marines, under a fake name. His brothers came and took him away. ■ Coleridge decided with some friends to found a utopian society in Pennsylvania. They would travel to America in pairs, like the animals in the story of Noah’s Ark. Two of his friends got married to be one of the utopian couples, and the bride had a sister named Sara Frick that Coleridge married so that they could be one of the utopian couples. This marriage was a very unhappy one. They both had multiple affairs and were separated the last four years of their marriage. They retired near Wordsworth in the country. ○ Works: ■ “The Eolian Harp” ● Coleridge describes the sound of the Eolian harp as fairy noise. DeFor 3 ● This poem contains sound-to-light synesthesia. ● This poem also contains a Pantheistic view of nature, which asks, “What if Nature is God?” At the end of the poem, he recants his ideas within the poem. There is an affirmation of Christian truth. However, the fact that he wrote in the first part with the Pantheistic view shows that there is a conflict within Coleridge of which he wishes to display both sides. ■ “This Lime Tree Bower My Prison” ● In this poem, Coleridge acts as an imaginative tour guide, describing the places to which he originally planned to go with his friends before his wife spilled boiling milk on his foot. ● This poem has strong connotations of the picturesque: the way that nature “should” look. ○ People believed that nature was a picture in and of itself, and even went so far as to carry portable frames with them through which to look at nature. ○ This idea led to the development of people going place just to see sublime views. Capitalism took advantage of this with a vengeance; just think about how many tourist shops and souvenirs there are around Niagara Falls. ● Coleridge states in the poem that “Nature will never harm you.” This is, of course, a lie. Another idea comes across in this poem: that sometimes, it’s good not to get what you want. This has more truth to it. ■ “Frost at Midnight” ● is a “conversation poem” to Coleridge’s baby ● Reflection on quietness: It’s so quiet that it seems to be poking him. The silence forces him into an active state of mind, as it “vexes meditation” ● Sees himself in a piece of ash - “puny, flapping, freakish” -- wildered, dark, guilty man ○ Called “a stranger” -- if seen, someone was supposed to visit you ● Has his son by his side, reflecting on school ○ Remembering moments of complete isolation ○ He saw a stranger and wished for a stranger ○ The book seemed to be “swimming” - about to pass out ○ Always wanting someone to visit; anyone to visit ● Relation between babe breathing and him sleeping ● The baby will wander through nature -- ideal Romantic upbringing ● Reflection of sky - landscape :: self - nature ● Nature is God’s language ● Poem ends with blessings: ○ “all seasons shall be sweet to thee” ○ Ends in “silence” and “quiet,” stasis ○ Deepest wish, that nothing would change ■ Dejection: An Ode ● Really an ode to clinical depression ● palinode: a “poem-response” to another poem; this is a palinode of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” ● Paragraph I: He wishes his mind would shut up. He wants something violent to rouse him, for now he feels un-roused ● Paragraph II : “O Lady!” is a reference to the woman he can’t marry. Nature is around him, but he feels nothing. (Yet, he describes it beautifully) ● Paragraph III: This is where we see that this is an Anti-Intimations Ode. Like in paragraph II, there isn’t any reciprocity between nature and man. ● Nothing of note to comment on for paragraph IV. ● Paragraph V: If you are pure of heart, then your soul is luminous. He is not pure of heart. He feels guilty for leaving his wife and being an opium addict. ● Paragraph VI: He is almost completely gone in terms of having a visionary soul. ● Paragraph VII. The whole time he’s explaining how he doesn’t have thoughts, he’s been thinking so hard that he missed the storm going on ○ Three metaphors for what the storm sounds like: ■ what scream of torture on the lute: Mad devil’s yule from a witch’s home; Satanic Christmas ■ Army: Groaning with pain ■ Little child: Far from home and lost, screams loud to make her mother hear ○ He has plenty of imagination, but it seems to have been perverted. ■ ● Jane Austen ○ Some notes on her life: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ○ Persuasion ■ ■ DeFor 5 ○ This scene also had the debate between Mrs Croft, Admiral Croft, and Captain Wentworth about whether women should be on ships. ■ Theme: Gender and Agency ● In this time period, men could not break engagements, but women could. The only way that a man could get out of an engagement would be to leave the area for a long time, therefore making his absence a very obvious withdrawal. ● During the scene in which Anne argues that women are more faithful than men, Captain Wentworth’s pen drops. This symbolizes not only a temporary loss of agency, but the fact that Anne is now in charge of the situation. He has been hanging onto her every word. ● Anne says in this argument that a man loves when a woman is present, but a woman loves when a man is gone. This is her way of saying that she loved Wentworth even when he went away, and this puts her fate into her own hands. ■ Theme: Loss in Human Experience ● Austen shows a conservative and ethical belief about how you should deal with terrible things that happen to you. She was already ill and probably knew she wasn’t going to live long, yet she shows an obvious dislike of hypochondriacs in this novel. ● Almost all characters have a backstory that includes loss. Austen uses these characters as foils; that is, their main function is to set off the protagonist: all of these characters are to show something about how Anne deals with loss. Some of the characters that experience loss include the following: ○ Sir Walter Elliot and Elizabeth lost many people, and deal with their loss through vanity and focusing on appearances and rank. Mary deals with the same losses by becoming a hypochondriac who also only cares about status. ○ Mr. Elliot lost his first wife. He is first seen in mourning clothes, but also gives Anne an admiring look right away, showing that he is not a very good mourner. ○ Wentworth lost Anne, Anne lost Wentworth, Mrs Clay and Lady Russell are widows… ○ Captain Benwick lost his fiance, the sister of Captain Harville. He started reading Romantic poetry, and he’s been taking it way too seriously. Anne tells him to read some prose, showing that too much of a good thing is bad. This is a very conservative view of mourning. ○ Mrs. Smith has lost pretty much everything, but she’s dealing with it properly by being cheerful and putting up with it. In the end, she remains a good friend of Anne, which shows that Austen wrote this character as a positive depiction of how one should live with pain. ● John Keats ○ Some notes on his life: ■ He only lived to be 25 years old. He knew he was going to die, and this colors all of his poetry. He nursed his brother with tuberculosis three years before his death, and he coughed up blood. TB is terminal, and there was nothing that anyone could do about it. ■ He came from a poor family; his parents died when he was a teenager. He went off early to study at “Guy’s Hospital” to be a surgeon, but he know that he should be a poet. ■ Fanny Braun lived next to Keats. He fell deeply in love with her, but Keats had an ethical conviction not to marry because he knew that he was going to die. She wore mourning clothes for eight years after his death. Later, she married and had children. ■ ○ Works: ■ “When I have fears” ● About Keats’s mortality dilemma ● Metaphors: ○ Before he can move the harvest from the field (his brain) to the silos (the books) ○ While looking at the constellations, (stories of tragedies, narrative, human beings’ stories rendered in the sky,) he hopes his writing will ○ The mention of the “fair creature of the hour” is Fanny Braun. DeFor 7 ● Keats is after a full retreat from his life and thoughts; the nightingale prompts him into finding this retreat. Keats finds his solution is not through substance, but imagination; “On the viewless wings of Poesy”. ● He finds himself in the trees with the nightingale. ● Stanza 6 includes beautiful poetry about death, but it ends with the realization that if he were to die, he wouldn’t be able to hear the nightingale song anymore. The song of the nightingale would become a “requiem,” and Keats would “become a sod.” ● Keats begins to imagine this nightingale as immortal. Maybe this nightingale sung for Ruth in “the alien corn” (you know, like, thousands of miles away and thousands of years ago.) Maybe this nightingale could charm open casements in faery lands. ● Keats works through what it would be like to give in to death, and he decides that he wouldn’t want it. The nightingale goes from singing a requiem to an anthem, as Keats decides to live. The nightingale flies away, and you can still faintly hear it “In the next valley-glades.”
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