The Spirit Of The Romantic Period, Wollstonecraft, Blake, And Wordsworth Essay, Research Paper
THE ROMANTIC PERIOD
WOLLSTONECRAFT, BLAKE, AND WORDSWORTH
The Romantic Period in English literature was an era that brought forth profound literary rebellion. Romantics were truly rebels. They were in total defiance of the morals set by the movement known as the neoclassical period. The Romantics were also idealists, who believed in change. These idealists wrote about the change they wanted, socially as well as politically. Nature, both human and natural, and childhood and social conditions were of the many themes literary artists of this time chose to focus on. Mary Wollstonecraft, William Blake, and William Wordsworth were among the literary artists who have done just this. In creating works such as, “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, “The Garden of Love”, and “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways”, one can see the spirit of this era is well depicted.
Mary Wollstonecraft can be noted as the women’s advocate of her day. In her “Vindication”, she proclaims that just as men, women have rights. For centuries women had very little or no rights at all. Women were treated as if they were mere objects of beauty and they were expected to yield to the every demand of man. “The conduct and manners of women, in fact, evidently prove that their minds are not in a healthy state.” In a sense, women have been brain washed. They are taught from the womb by their mothers that they are to only maintain their appearances and be sweet and submissive. They are taught to spend their time questioning for love because the only way to get ahead is through marriage. Women never reach the realization that there is more to life.
Women shouldn’t feel inferior to men because they too are mortal beings. Instead of spending time on beauty and frailty, women should want to enlighten their minds. “Women are only anxious to inspire love when they ought to cherish a nobler ambition.” She shows through her essay how women are treated and how she feels they should be treated. She is saying that women should not be branded in their minds as the weaker sex. They should have some intellect because in life it will always govern. In my opinion, Wollstonecraft took a brave step. Certainly this essay was a great accomplishment for her. She wrote in a time when very little or nothing was expected from women.
In the Neoclassic era, the church was a symbol of great divinity. The church was an institution that set many strict standards on society. In Blake’s poem, “The Garden of Love”, we see the church as the sublime figure that enforces religious and social morals on the people.
It is evident that Blake is writing from personal experience. He says that he went into the garden and there stood a chapel. It was built on the fields on which he used to play. (Imperceptibly, the game of love.) The doors of the chapel were very distressing. “Thou shalt not” was written above the doors of the chapel. It is unmistakable that the church was repressing him sexually. Because many people were sexually repressed at this time, love became a cemetery. The standards set by the church made it impossible for anyone to play the games of love.
Unquestionably, the Romantic Period was not just an age of reason. It was a time of discovery and lost innocence. More and more poets were discovering and exploring aspects of life and more profoundly, death. William Wordsworth can be noted as a poet of nature. Throughout much of his work, we find that he devotes time to concentrating on natural images. I postulate these images of nature allow us to envision the death and rebirth of nature itself. In a sense, Wordsworth shows through his poetry that life can be eternal. In “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways,” he describes, through imagery, a young woman who has experienced terrible loneliness and sadness. He says that this woman is gone now. No one knew her, or when she ceased to be. No one cared that she existed. However, it made a difference to Wordsworth. Even if no one cared, he did and that made the difference.
It appears as though Wordsworth is describing the struggle of the lower class people to exist. One cannot live in loneliness and despair. Wordsworth seems to be revealing the callous attitude of society at that time.
In composing their works, it is safe to assume that the Romantics shared a common interest. That interest was change. Mary Wollstonecraft, William Blake, and William Wordsworth are among the true rebels of their time. Through literary works such as “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”, “The Garden of Love”, and “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways”, we can see that these literary artists took no boundaries in challenging standards set by the church, government, and society in general.
Blake, William. “The Garden of Love”
Wollstonecraft, Mary. “A Vindication of the Rights of Women”
Wordsworth, William. “She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways”
consult Norton Anthology Reader.