Using the Work of Either Wordsworth or Coleridge, Show How Romanticism Constituted a Radical Break with the Techniques and Subject Matter of What Had Gone Before. Essay

Using the work of EITHER Wordsworth or Coleridge, show how Romanticism constituted a radical break with the techniques and subject matter of what had gone before. Wordsworth was the beginning of a new genre of writing. In the late18th century a lot of society and writing focussed around order and reason, however Wordsworth romantic and naturalistic writing created a tremendous break through. With the joint efforts and collaboration with Samuel Coleridge he published ‘Lyrical Ballads’ which helped start the English Romantic movement.

Wordsworth close attention to analysis on environment, geography and physicality in his poetry emphasised his controversial approach. He emphasizes the phenomenological interaction between inner and outer worlds, but with his romantic landscape poems containing political aspects that are intrinsic with the prospect poem and referring to nature which corresponds with the poet’s inner self is loaded with political and cultural values. Showing Wordsworth ability to highlight and criticize society, political and social injustices at the time through in depth description of nature.

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Romanticism is a complex, self-contradictory artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Western Europe, and gained strength during the Industrial Revolution. [1] It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature and a movement in revolt against the Neoclassicism of the previous centuries, and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music and literature.

Romanticism placed a new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, horror, and the awe experienced in confronting the sublimity in untamed nature and its qualities that are scenic and spectacular. Wordsworth produced poetry that highlighted the picturesque and beauty in nature. Wordsworth work shows a strong contradiction to what techniques were used before his genre of writing began. Wordsworths poem ‘We are Seven’ is full of euphony. There is also alliteration present– (Lightly, life, limb) which, ironically, also contributes to the euphony. He also uses rhyme to ive the poem a gentle, child-like feel. There is also assonance: (stockings, kint, sit, sing) this shows Wordsworth more gentle and subliminal approach to poetry and contradicts the melodrama and neo classicism poetry that had been published before. One example supporting Wordsworth’s contribution to the development of prose poetry is his use of the long sentence. By choosing not to rhyme in some of his works, Wordsworth gained greater syntactical freedom Wordsworth adds, modifies, and repeats to expand his sentences, and he does this because there is always something more to say.

Wordsworth’s repetitive use of the word ‘and’ in his poetry, as well as his longer sentence structure, is remarkably similar to prose in form. Wordsworth ability to focus on man in nature is shown very well in ’Upon Westminster Bridge’ If this poem is considered alongside William Blake’s London, the differing attitudes are striking. Whilst this poem is positive, Blake is concerned with the negatives of life in London. Wordsworth here is focusing on the city in the morning, and does not mention seeing people. Blake’s poem is about the effects of the city on its inhabitants.

Wordsworth’s line ‘the river glideth at his own sweet will’ is arguably a conscious rejection of Blake’ description of the ‘charter’d Thames’. Unlike Blake’s speaker, the speaker in this poem seems to believe in the power of nature to persist alongside the man-made city, even that it is perfected by the city. Another technique that Wordsworth had was the ability to make the ‘common man’ seem so at peace and ease with life. This did however contradict society at the time as common men were usually lower class.

On the other hand Wordsworths beautifully crafted and elegant description of a blissful nature makes the common man seem that a man and nature together is a state of ecstasy. Wordsworth ability to describe nature so well in a time of the Industrial revolution is remarkable. His passion of imagination allowed him to vision a ‘place’ beyond the Industrialized society and picture a picturesque and beautiful nature, shows that Wordsworth reliance on his imagination was crutial. Towards the end of the 18th century, poetry began to move away from the strict Augustan ideals and a new emphasis on sentiment and the feelings of he poet. This trend can perhaps be most clearly seen in the handling of nature, with a move away from poems about formal gardens and landscapes by urban poets and towards poems about nature as lived. Additionally, the Romantic movement marked a shift in the use of language. Attempting to express the “language of the common man”, Wordsworth and his fellow Romantic poets focused on employing poetic language for a wider audience, countering the mimetic, tightly constrained Neo-Classic poems.

William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge began the trend for bringing emotionalism and introspection to English literature, with a new concentration on the individual and the common man. This shows the transition between the melodrama that dominated the Victorian era and shows Wordsworths attempt at simplistic language that was suitable for all classes. Wordsworth work shows his poetry vocation develop over the years, with the intention to fall away from neo classical literature into a literature which would evoke raw emotion.

Wordsworth began publishing in a society which was going through the turmoil of the industrial revolution and where literature focused around melodrama and was going through the Age of Enlightenment. However when Wordsworth published ‘Lyrical Ballads’ the subject matter made a complete transition from the social norm to a controversial piece of literature. The subject at the time was very much focused around class differentiation. Literature was made for the aristocracy and the working class was left with nothing.

However Wordsworth writings on the emotion of the common man in the natural environment gave the working a class a sense of involvement within society. Most poets wrote for upper class so therefore Wordsworth writing for all classes was revolutionary. Instead of writing about topics such as God like Milton did, Wordsworth wrote with using his imagination and therefore created exquisite pieces of writing. Therefore not only did the subject matter of literature change the fundamentals of society were changed as society had a sense of equality as all classes could read the same literature.

In conclusion Wordsworth ability to change and create anew genre revolutionized then world of literature. Romanticism is a genre of pure imagination and creativity, with simplistic and natural reference and lexis Wordsworth took the option of a trail blazing pioneer and in the process became the Victorian Era’s genius. Lyrical Ballads created a new genre of poets and changed a melodramatic and neo-classicism society into a imaginative and ‘natural’ one.


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