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Comparison Essay of 18th and 19th Centuries

02/10/2022 Edebiyat

Art and its artists have always been affected by the events that happen around them. Artworks and movements during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are reacted by artists to events and art styles that have occurred. During the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the artworks created under neoclassicism and romanticism redefined art to emphasize the individual and its relationship with its environment. Therefore, this essay is going to compare eighteenth and nineteenth century works while referring to the social cultural background and literacy occurrences.

On the one hand, Neo-Classical age, also known as the age of the reason, had strict thoughts and strict styles of writing. In all sorts of writing, simplicity, clarity and regularity must be the property of the work. Not only these properties, but also even though Neo-Classical writers viewed man positively, they thought that man must be trained and need to be disciplined in order to become an art creator, a poet. The poets of Neo-Classical Age had many thoughts about nature and nature is considered as permanent and enduring. For example, in the poems of Alexander Pope, the primarily general thought and also a key-term was “First follow Nature”. On his artwork, “Essay on Criticism”, Alexander Pope criticized the style of writing of poets and implied that instead of taking us to long voyages to discover the new, the poet must reveal the permanent and the representative in human experience. What’s more, poets believed in the idea what emphasizes that an excess of imagination considered as dangerous thing to sanity. The poets believed that excess of imagination not only lead human away from the nature itself, but also leads truth to falsehood. Hence, in order to control imagination, Alexander Pope insisted on his artwork “Essay On Criticism”, the use of wits must be used only when it comes to necessity, and it can be used more effective through discipline, as Pope calls it “Harmonious Union of Judgement and Fancy”. In addition to these, the period associated with the closed heroic couplet, which is composed of two iambic pentameter lines, has usually a pause at the end of the first line, usually with coma or semi-colon. In the second line, the couplet comprises an idea or an expression in general. The closed heroic couplet can be seen in Pope’s artwork, “An Essay on Criticism”. Apart from these, poets of this period used satire to criticize and to expose society’s double standards, showing how superficial is many of the laws and values that governed English society were. They also used wits, decorum (the property), and novels in their works. The fine works from the period were mock-heroic or mock-epic works. In these works, trivial subjects made ridiculous by being treated with exaggerated and enhanced devices of the epic, which is an example of satire. Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” can be given as an example to mock-epics. Moreover, even the comedy underwent a change. A new sort of comedy, “Sentimental Comedy” began to replace old comedy as one of the pleasures invented in eighteenth century was the pleasure of weeping. Because of this situation, sentimental comedy has aroused between the middle class who enjoyed this kind of drama.

On the other hand, romantic period tended rather to emphasize the significance of imagination as the only source of creativity. Unlike Neo-Classical theory, the source of poetry is not the outer world, but personal feelings of the poet about the world, instead of men and their actions. In Romantic Period, many poets regarded the poetry as expression or exhibition of emotion. The poetry was poet’s imagination or his imaginative vision instead of public experience. Therefore, the subject was not actions of men, but the personal experience, thoughts and feelings. Consequently, the Romantic Period poetry has become spontaneous product of the poet’s imagination. Furthermore, the Romantic poets had a tendency to use the language of a simple, humble man. As William Wordsworth explained in his artwork, “Lyrical Ballads”, the poets’ aim was to make usual things unusual, seeing the invisible in the visible. Hence, poets from Romantic Period even tried to violate the rules or laws of nature. Moreover, there were emphasis on instinct and especially on imagination as the creative source. Natural things can have deep meanings beyond itself, even the meaning can be carried to an outer world; spiritual world, and this situation has become a common theme for the Romantic poets, especially William Wordsworth. For example, clouds can have very different meaning than itself, as it can be seen in William Wordsworth’s poem, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”. In the poem, the poet William Wordsworth uses cloud in the meaning of walking alone, floating over hills and valleys. Not only this, but also he is comparing the daffodils to stars in the sky, and notes how the flowers seem to go on without ending, alongside a bay. He also guesses there are ten thousand or so daffodils, all of their heads moving as if they were dancing. Therefore, a person can see the theme of nature in the poem and the words that have deep meaning beyond itself. What’s more, a person who is reading the poems from Romantic Period can understand that the Primitivism which means turning away from society and living close to the nature is used by poets. Moreover, in the Romantic Period, poets and writers isolated themselves from society. Romantic Period had a characteristic of individualism. It reflected the feelings, thoughts or experiences of the poet.

To sum up, in Neo-Classic Period, poets were seen as teachers, but in Romantic Period, they seemed as prophets, as their imagination is in the foreground and as imagination is limitless. Neo-Classic poets also viewed the man positively, but thought that in order to make an artwork, man should be disciplined. In my opinion, 19th century poets, in other words, Romantic Period poets and their works seemed to me that their works are sincere, and more familiar to today. So, I reviewed Romantic Period positively comparing to Neo-Classic Period.

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