Romance & Revolution

The Enlightenment was the foundation of the questioning the hierarchy of aristocracy and the Church. It took place in the eighteenth century throughout Germany, France and Britain. The impact of the Enlightenment on these different countries focused on different aspects of their societies. During this time of Western Philosophy, Reason was highly valued. This posed a threat to the established sources of power in the government. The expressed thought that the common people were still lower in the social hierarchy because of their birth rank was beginning to be resisted, along with the belief that the Church was the central truth.

The background to this new way of thinking began in the late seventeenth century when the bourgeoisie began to realize the fact that they were paying taxes to the aristocracy that was not contributing to the improvement of society. Not only were the taxes not improving the state of the society, it was only being distributed to the group of rich citizens who truly had no use for it. The indignation of the middle class led to their encouragement of the working class to unite and oppose the foundation of their world such as they have known it to be for centuries.

French Romanticism took part in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was the outcome of the Age of Enlightenment and also the effect of the scientific questioning toward nature and human body. The notion of strong emotion was strongly encouraged, rather opposite from the Age of Enlightenment where the focus was intellectual and philosophical. Romanticism was mostly captured in art, theatrical performances, and music. Though these mediums conveyed the change of thought and understanding during this time, the best medium that embodies French Romanticism is literature.

Most the themes in the literature of this time period were of the human psyche and supernatural occurrences. With these themes still being prevalent through out history, French Romanticism transcended time periods and countries. Jean-Jacques Rousseau greatly influenced this time period. His belief that through the abandonment of natural right, people could work in society with no true conflict. Rousseau believed that the people should directly make the laws, that way there would be no way to revolt against it. Some contirbute him wholely to sparking the French Revolution. The French Revolution was a time of political and social mayhem.

The concept of natural rights and aristocracy were being challenged not only intellectually but also violently. During this period of time the king was excuted, the Napoleonic Wars took place, and the French Reformation took hold. The events that led up to the Revolution had many economic contributions. The major national debt caused by the continuous warring with the surrounding countires caused by King Louis XV made it hard for the working class to maintian the rise of taxes. This injustice might have been bale to be over looked, if the unemployment rate was not at an all time high.

This frustrated the French citizens, having the demand of high taxes and no jobs, left several families with malnutrition. This being the plight of the lower and working class, the bourgeoisie had their own issues to face. The Roman Catholic owned largest landowner in France at the time. Trying to work up the social ladder, the middle class felt oppress that their efforts were being denied and ignored. The resistance of internal trade stifled the rise of capitalistic beliefs by the bourgeoisie also brought about extreme hatred. The Catholic Church became one of the central targets of the Revolution.

One of the close followers to Rousseau, Robespierre, was one of the major figureheads to the French Revolution. He orchestrated the Reign of the Terror, the time of execution for those against the Revolution. Robespierre killed countless people believed to be spies, symbols of the Age of Oppression, and Catholic Church supporters. He became so obsessed with purging the French society of their oppressors; he turned on his own supporters. One of the supporters that Robespierre turned on was Georges Danton. Danton was a leader of the Revolution, but not very supportive of the Terror.

Believing that change could be done with as little violence as possible, he was viewed as being lenient of the former government. These unfortunate facts lead to his execution. Another leader of the Revolution was Jean-Paul Marat. He was the editor and founder of the paper The Friend of the People. Through this paper he attacked not only the factions of the Revolution, but questioned their over all loyalty to the cause. This caused several disputes and targeted hatred toward Marat. This caused him to have to continually flee to London to resist arrest and persecution.

Cult of Sensibility is the focus of strong emotions. It was believed a person who was considerably moved by a work of art or literature could be moved to cry, faint, or have a fit. The idea was a born as a British literary movement. However, the movement died because of the accusation that it was narcissistic. Parody is a different work used to mock an original piece. The origin of parody was found in Greek literature. The writers in the ancient Greek times used to switch around the words of a poem to give a humorous take on an epic. Parody is closely linked to satire.

Satire is the method used to poke fun at a theory or philosophy that the writer disagrees with. Usually satire has elements of sarcasm, which makes the audience feel ridiculous. The use of satire is rarely used for just humor, but instead has a sense of ridicule. Irony is when the actual happening in a work in completely different then the expected happening. There are various types of irony, including but not limited to, verbal, situational, tragic, and dramatic irony. Verbal irony is when the speaker says something, but it is meant in a completely different way.

This type of irony is interchangeable with sarcasm. Situational irony is the most common form of irony. This type of irony is when the expected or understood meaning of a situation turns out to be completely different. Some of the outcomes of these ironic situations are comical, but it is not the norm. With dramatic irony, this tool is used when the audience has a piece of information that one or all the actors does not know about. Tragic irony is when the true situation is misinterpreted and the characters act on the wrong information.

Realism is the appreciation for how things appear in the monotony of everyday life. It was believed that one would benefit more out of life if they took it just as it is, and not add embellishments or unnecessary emotions. The movement began in France around the eighteenth century and was strongly against romanticism. The belief is that lie is founded on basic truths. When one adds emotion or philosophical meaning to a simplistic world, they lose the entire meaning of life. One of the most prominent Realist writers in France was Gustave Flaubert.

Flaubert wrote the novel Madame Bovary, one of the first books of its time that portrayed life just as it was. Coming off Romanticism, the book was highly criticized for being dark and menacing. Realism was portrayed in France through artwork. Artists such as Jean-Frani??ois Millet, Honori?? Daumier, and Rosa Bonheur portrayed rural scenes and helped the common people be represented in high art. The depiction of everyday life was revolutionary to the time period and was mostly embraced by the poor and middle class.

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