The influence of the French Revolution on Romantic poetry or English literature or Romantic poets
Question: Discuss the influence of the French Revolution on Romantic poetry or English literature or Romantic poets.
The French Revolution that occurred in 1789 played a huge role in influencing Romantic writers. The principles of the French Revolution were liberty, equality, and fraternity which created a deep and powerful impression on 19th-century poets. After a long period of neo-classicism, a great change in poetry writing was brought about in the romantic period by the impact of the French Revolution.
The major romantic poets
The major poets of the romantic period who were completely influenced by the French Revolution are enlisted below:
- William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
- Lord Byron (1788-1824)
- Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
The first and foremost influence of the French Revolution was liberal thinking. The French Revolution brought a great impact on the philosophers and writers of whole Europe and the Romantic poets were not out of that periphery. Due to liberal thinking, the Romantic poets got the opportunity to expose themselves to their free thought.
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Change in poetic Art
Change in poetic Art has been taken place by the impact of the French Revolution in English literature. According to the Oxford Dictionary, Revolution refers to the forcible overthrow of a government or social order in favor of a new system. As the changes were noticeable throughout all aspects of the society of Europe, poetry was not exceptional to hold strong that trend of change. The long 125 years of neo-classical age(1660-1785) produced poetry from satirical points of view but the Romantics could not accept that and become interested to generate lyrical poems composing jointly “Lyrical Ballads” published 1798. Thus the French Revolution had created a power to violate the strong trend of poetry writing.
Presence of humanity and common mass
The romantics learned from the revolution how to present the human interest of all walks of people. The basic features of neo-classical poetry were:
- Objectivity from an upper-class point of view
- Harsh satire
- Complex poetry diction
- Complete absence of natural or urbanity
- Rationalism and Realism.
The above traits of neo-classical poetry have helped us to determine that the poetic art during the long 125 years was merely for the particularly upper-class people. This can be compared with a hand mirror that reflects a fixed part of the human body not the reflection of the whole human body.
On the other hand, romantic poetry is the poetry of common mass. As this poetry talks about common people, it is the ever-fresh preserver of all human being interest that was the mottoes of the French Revolution as well.
Brave and revolutionary steps
The synonym of revolution is rebellion. French Revolution taught the romantic poets to be valiant and rebellious against neo-classical poetry. As we know that change is the law of the universe, a change was essential for creative thinking and philosophic romantics. Through the simple and speculative presentation of the beauty of nature. The greatest poets of the romantic age could understand well that aesthetic poetry must be produced to preserve the fame of poetry and to defend it so far. Shelley was the first one to defend poetry by composing a critical theory “The Defend of Poetry” in 1821.
Besides, according to Terry Eagleton, Romantics were the first complete modernist. He asserts that the 18th century was the entrance of the rising of English and the 19th century was the complete time-span for the rise of English. So it crystal-like clear that if there was no French Revolution, there was no galaxy of creative genius.