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Transcendentalism And Romanticism Presentation Essay, Research Paper

19th-century movement of writers

and philosophers in New England who were loosely bound together by adherence to

an idealistic system of thought based on a belief in the essential unity of

all creation, the innate goodness of man, and the supremacy of insight over

logic and experience for the revelation of the deepest truths. Romanticism Attitude or intellectual

orientation that characterized many works of literature, painting, music,

architecture, criticism, and historiography in Western civilization over a

period from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Romanticism can be seen

as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization,

and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century

Neoclassicism in particular. It was also to some extent a reaction

against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical

materialism in general. Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective,

the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional,

the visionary, and the transcendental. ?Among the

characteristic attitudes of Romanticism were the following: a deepened

appreciation of the beauties of nature; a general exaltation of emotion over

reason and of the senses over intellect; a turning in upon the self and a

heightened examination of human personality and its moods and mental

potentialities; a preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the

exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his passions and inner struggles;

a new view of the artist as a supremely individual creator, whose creative

spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional

procedures; an emphasis upon imagination as a gateway to transcendent

experience and spiritual truth; an obsessive interest in folk culture,

national and ethnic cultural origins, and the medieval era; and a predilection

for the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the weird, the occult, the

monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic. The second phase of Romanticism,

comprising the period from about 1805 to the 1830s, was marked by a quickening

of cultural nationalism and a new attention to national origins, as attested by

the collection and imitation of native folklore, folk ballads and poetry, folk

dance and music, and even previously ignored medieval and Renaissance works.

The revived historical appreciation was translated into imaginative writing by Sir Walter Scott, who invented the historical novel. At

about this same time English Romantic poetry had reached its zenith in the

works of John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley. (See also Index:

folk art)Presentation plan: Initially important to understand what had gone before

Keats:? -Age of enlightenment (encyclopaedists in France),

rationalism and materialism played a dominant role in 18th century

thinking ? satirist movement in poetry led to a very intellectual approach

detached from emotion, making the work cynical and sarcastic. -The Romantic Movement that Keats became a part of was a

shift away from this sort of approach to life, and could almost be considered a

reaction to it.? The Romantics were very

much concerned with revelling the senses. Romanticism as a concept emphasized

the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal,

the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental. Keats in

particular was concerned with transcendentalism, he believed entirely in the

essential unity of all creation, the innate goodness of man, and the supremacy

of insight over logic and experience for the revelation of the deepest truths.

These beliefs are apparent in his poetry. Keats himself had a great value

for life.? For much of the time that he

was writing, Keats was conscious of his own approaching death.? The realisation that he may well lose his

life led not to morbid realisation, but instead to a greater appreciation for

the sensation of being alive.? This

vivid appreciation of life is reflected in the brilliant use of colour in his

poetry and the extraordinary, sensuous description of all that surrounds

him.? It is perhaps this appreciation

that makes Keats? poetry so brilliant. Keats appreciation of beauty, heightened

by his approaching death is expressed in all his poems: ?A thing of beauty is a joy forever?-John Keats ?Beauty is truth, truth beauty ? that is all ye know on

earth and all ye need to know.? John Keats, Ode to a Grecian Urn, May 1819 ??????????? Keats as a

man was affectionate, sensitive and loving.?

He seemed to identify well with all people through his great sympathy

for them.? This probably came from his

sickness as being ill, Keats often lacked in energy, and therefore instead of

taking centre stage, Keats had had much time to observe people and the way they

behave.? This in turn led to a greater

understanding of the way people operate, and his loving nature led him to

sympathise with them. This again is expressed in his poetry, as even when the

most evil of characters are described, Keats always has a way of appearing

understanding and compassionate towards them through the way that he describes

them and their actions. ??????????? Keats showed

remarkable maturity in a poet for one so young, he did not attempt to imitate

what had gone before him, but had his own clear ideas of what poetry should be: ??????????? ?I think

poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity.? It should strike the reader as a wording of

his own highest thoughts and appear almost a remembrance? ??????????? He also had

a clear purpose in writing his poetry, he did not write for the public, but at

the same time he was anxious to share his intense joy of life and appreciation

of beauty with others, he had a great desire to help his fellow men appreciate

the beauties that were so appreciated by him: ??????????? ?To

sooth the cares and lift the thoughts of men? ? Keats, ?Sleep and Beauty? ??????????? ? I am

ambitious of doing the world some good? ? Keats, letter to Woodhouse ??????????? ?I am

writing for myself for the mere sake of a moments enjoyment? ? Keats, ??????????? ?I never

wrote a single line of poetry with the least shadow of public thought.? ?

Keats, ??????????? Although

Keats said at the end of his life: ?I feel I have done enough to take my place

among the English Poets,? and for Keats it was a race against time, he was not

afraid of failing or falling short of his own high standards, as he himself

said: ??????????? ?I was

never afraid of failure, I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest? Keats poetry does focus upon

sickness and death, and the contrast between this and the joy and vigour of

life.? Keats was aware that he only had

a short time to live after recognising the symptoms of Tuberculosis in himself

after his brother died from the disease. His longing for life was frequently

expressed both in his poetry and letters: ?O for ten years that I may overwhelm myself in poetry? Keats had watched his father,

mother and brother die, perhaps the most traumatic death of all was that of his

brother who died after appearing to age dramatically, his teeth and hair

falling out.? Sickness and death,

therefore, play a part in many of his poems. In the case of Keats

particularly, in understanding the man, his thoughts and ambitions, we appreciate

more deeply and understand more completely, his poems.? ??????????? ? The Eve of St. Agnes. Storyline: ??????????? Points

to mention: Ancient

Pensioner contrasts with Young lovers, age and experience, youth and

innocence.? Linked by his hearing

the music in preparation for the feast that evening. (L.20) Virgins

who observe ceremonial rites on this particular eve may see their future

husbands in their dreams. Fathers

of Madeline and Porphyro are sworn enemies (L.87-88) ?Into

her dream he melted? (Line 320). Interesting observation: the poem now

takes on a dream-like quality. The reader is unsure what is in the dream

and what is reality, probably a little of both ? Madeline thinks that

she?s still dreaming and eventually realises that it?s real as she awakens

(L.328) also part dream for Porphyro as he can?t believe that this perfect

woman whom he worships is to be his bride. Reference

to relationship being consummated in dream-like language.(L.320-) Madeline

consents to elope with lover fearing she will lose him and the two of them

steal from the castle under the cover of the raging storm.(L.347suggested

by Porphyro, and L.355 she consents and they go L.370) Points to Make on Story: ??????????? Keats wrote

this poem in early 1819, during his most productive time of writing.? It is based upon the superstition that a

girl who goes to bed supper less on 20th January (St. Agnes Eve)

will have visions of her lover.? The

poem tells of what happened to Madeline and Porphyro on that night. ??????????? Keats

contrasts the holy devotion and piousness of the Beadsman with the passion of

human love in this poem, both deep forms of love but both very different in

nature.? At the commencement of the

poem, it is clear from the language used that St. Agnes Eve is in the middle of

winter.? Words such as freeze, black,

cold convey this impression.? This

imagery also conveys a picture of close proximity to death in the case of the

old Beadsman.? Keats contrasts the

bleak, cold, icy and unfeeling concept of death with the warm colour of

life.? This death-like imagery in

contrast with that of young, vibrant love makes the point about the briefness

of human existence and Keats invites us to throw ourselves into all that life

has to offer.? He realises, with insight

unusual in such a young man, but explained by the proximity of his own death,

that old age, death and coldness comes to us all, and it is important to

appreciate the sensuousness of life while it lasts. ??????????? Verse

33.? Innocent love, unconscious of

physical/sexual connotation -? the

sexual element later in the poem is less obviously described, and almost forms

part of the dream. ??????????? Verse 34.

?He knelt with joined hands and piteous eye? ? emphasis on purity of love, and

the worship of pure, unspoilt, untouched beauty. ??????????? The Old

Beadsman is used to great effect by Keats in the poem as his age and experience

is well contrasted with the youthful lovers and their innocence.? However, the cold of? winter and of the church, and later the

storm, appears not to affect the young lovers.?

Keats draws a parallel between this and the ability of youth to block

out the unpleasant elements of life, and simply enjoy life without any of the

worries of death, in this Keats shows his own longing to experience the joy and

recklessness of youth, and shows his consciousness of his own approaching death

once more. ??????????? The story

appears to be part dream and part reality, occasionally the difference between

the two can be very difficult to grasp.?

(?The world of these young lovers might be thought of as a dream world

where a rose may shut ?and be a bud again? (L.243).? But, as we are often reminded, they actually live in a world

where roses can whither and die.? York Notes) The contrast between the dream

and reality is not as apparent as many of the contrasts in the poem, however,

the contrast becomes apparent when the lovers leave the dreamy, sleepy bedroom

and face the harsh reality of the storm as they brave the elements to be

together.? The majority of the poem,

however, is told on the side of the dream rather than on the side of reality,

and the point at which the dream ends and the reality starts is difficult to

define for the better part of the poem. ??????????? The hazy

boundary between the dream and reality in the poem raises an interesting point

about the nature of the love between Madeline and Porphyro.? They both enter Madeline?s room with

completely differing desires.? Madeline

wishes for a vision of her lover and a dream of consummation, Porphyro,

however, desires the reality, to gaze on the form of Madeline and perhaps

experience the actual act of consummation.?

These differing desires conflict and appear to raise the question do

both lovers get what they desire.? It

appears that Porphyro does, but what about Madeline? Does she desire the

reality or the dream or both? Is she seduced or tricked into bed with Porphyro?

Does Porphyro intend to seduce Madeline? (Essay ? ?The Hoodwinking of Madeline?

by Jack Stillinger argues that Porphyro gains Madeline?s bed only by a

stratagem, a word used twice in the poem (L.70, L.139)? In my opinion, Porphyro sets out to take

advantage of Madeline?s dreams and it is indeed all a scheme on his part to get

her into bed and she is indeed the victim of a trick. ??????????? This alters

our reading of the poem if we accept this interpretation, and far from being

the innocent hero besotted by the beautiful Madeline, Porphyro becomes the

villain and Madeline becomes the deluded and deceived victim of an evil plot to

take her innocence.? This alternative

reading of an element or an interpretation that is certainly apparent within

the poem on close inspection emphasises the ironic nature of the poem and

presents this romantic story as a sceptical antiromance.? The interpretation that Porphyro had no

other intentions on entering her room other than to ensure in accordance with

the legend he will become her husband, he ?accidentally?, as Keats so

delicately puts it, ?melts into her dream?.?

This gives the poem a far more romantic tone and affirms the powers of

imagination.? This would appear to give

the poem a far more positive note as the desires of both are fulfilled as the

elaborate stratagem pays dividends.?

However, this interpretation appears far too convenient and Porphryo?s

intentions appear far too innocent for me to accept this. ??????????? Keats uses

an alternate rhyme scheme in the poem to give a musical and pictorial quality

to a narrative poem whilst maintaining the structure of iambic pentameter with

a final alexandrine (a line of iambic hexameter that does not require the kind

of compression associated with the ottava rima Keats use in Isabella.

Ottava rima, a stanzic form originally created by Boccaccio during the 14th

century, in these 8 line stanzas of iambic pentameter, the rhyme scheme abababcc

is used, the first 6 lines seem to build up with the last couplet having a

punch-line effect.? Keats conscious of

minute detail, poetry can be compared with the Pre-Raphelites who painted in a

similar manner, Keats use of the Spenserian stanza encourages this tendency

towards descriptiveness.? In fact, as

with ?Isabella?, this poem became a favourite with the Pre-Raphelite artists

and works such as Maclise?s Madeline after Prayer, or Hunt?s Flight

of Madeline and Porphyro and Eve of St. Agnes.(Side-track ? look at

Paintings and explain the similar qualities, show how the Pre-Raphelites

painted with use of other examples, compare the detail and rich colours with

the vivid descriptions in Keats’ Poetry with particular reference to St.Agnes

Eve Verse30) Show Keats? appreciation of surroundings. Uses intense

physicality colour in poem contrasts the grey, black, white and silver of death

and old age with the wealth of brilliant colours he uses to describe life. Much

of poem based on contrast, between light and dark, bright and dull, noisy and

quiet (revelry of feast and quiet of Madeline?s room.)Richness of description: Verse 30 ?Azure-lidded sleep?- vivid, sensuous description

of feast, almost allows reader to visualise the beauty of the spread, the

radiant colours. Verse 25 ? ?Rose-bloom?, ?Gules? Verse 29 ? ?Silver twilight?, ?a cloth of?? brilliant

colourful, imaginative image of cloth. Keats creates a dramatic

immediacy and increases the excitement of the poem through a fluctuation from

past to present.? For example, stanza

22, straight description changes into an address to the concealed Porphyro

(L.196-8) and then the return to the past tense until Madeline begins to

undress and here again the poem moves into the dramatic present tense.

Narrative also moves into the present tense as the lovers make their escape,

this suggests the haste and urgency of the escape and the in a well constructed

finish, we are then separated from the sensual and passionate immediacy of the

young lovers, and we are reminded of the expanse of time between ourselves and

them and the different world in which they lived. This distance has always been

subtly maintained during the poem through the narrator?s tone, ?creating a

tension between scepticism and the will to believe, between dream and reality?

(York Notes)? but even so the ending

does puncture the? world of make-believe.? Keats is poetry is never cynical

as older poets often are, combines the optimistic innocence of youth with the

maturity of adulthood beyond his years forced upon him by facing death. Keats

shows realisation of worthlessness of material goods in poem, Madeline rejects

the riches of home, the material worldly goods which Keats so vividly describes

and with which her home is so richly furnished.? (Arranged marriages? In middle ages. Escaping from the alliance

aspect, in favour of true love.)? Keats

also shows that despite his own middle-class upbringing, he is no snob.? Describes old Beadsman with much compassion-

indites upper classes such as Madeline?s parents.? English element in his poetry

even whilst set in Italy, mention of Owl, hare, and a flock of sheep as well as

talking of Knights and Ladies.


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