The Nature between Neoclassical and Romanticism
During the Neoclassical period, the artist wants to draw up art with nature: it doesn’t mean that the artist must reproduced faithfully the natural particulars, but he has to look only for the essence. The neoclassical writers gave importance to thought, reason and commonsense. The poetry was the artful treatment of the real life happening into a poetic composition, portraying a fictional character.
During the Romantic period, nature has an important roll. The artist need to be interiorized with nature, because the knowledge of good and evil resides in nature, whose voice talks into us. Going to discover nature, in fact, means going to discover humans, nature for romantic was a source of inspiration, a symbol of truth and unadulterated reality. The romantic writes gave important to emotion, imagination and self experience. The poetry expressed personal feelings of the poet as it is spontaneous. A characteristic both poets is belief in “natural order” and a search for harmony and reconciliation between the natural and human sphere. Many romantic poets sought solace and peace in nature, and the also recognized the power world on men.
George Byron was born in London in 1788 and was educated at Harrow and Trinity College. In 1816 he left Britain and never returned. He traveled to Geneva, where he met Shelley and then, he went in Italy, he lived a wild life in Venice and travelled to Rome. In 1823, Byron moved for Greece, where he formed a small army to help free Greece from the Turks, he died of a fever before he could fight. Byron became a legendary figure more known for his life than his poetry, he represent the archetypal Romantic hero. When he was in southern Europe, he started Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, a semiautobiographical poem. In 1818 he began work on Don Juan; the first two cantos were denounced as immoral in England, but Byron continued to work on the poem for the next five years.
Unlike the poets of the first generation, Byron doesn’t completely reject neoclassicism, his verse tends to oscillate between lyrical expansion and comic ironic. The concise wit evident in his poems shows the influence of figures like Pope and even the novelist Fielding. He wishes to break free of all imitation like Shelly. The most representative poem of Byron’s romantic ironic his Don Juan.
Don Juan recounts the adventure of its eponymous hero, who his sent abroad by his mother at the age of 16 after a scandalous affair with Donna Julia, the young wife of an elderly nobleman, and is shipwrecked on a Greek Island. The last cantos of the poem remained unfinished at the time of Byron’s death. In this last cantos take form a satirical description of conditions in England. Don Juan consist of 16 cantos written in ottava rima to consent the accumulation of comic effects followed by a surprise punch line at the end. Protagonist’s adventures are always viewed from cynical, ironic distance of experience, and one could consider Don Juan an anti-lyrical poem, because was write by Byron’s aim to sabotage the conservatism of earlier romantics.
John Keats was born in London in 1795. In 1815 he became a student at Guy’s Hospital in London, the next year he abandoned his studies for poetry. All of his family died for tuberculosis, and in 1820, by now very ill with tuberculosis, Keats moved to Rome hoping that the warmer climate would help him, but he died in February 1821. He was buried in the Protestant cemetery in Rome; on his headstone it engraved “Here lies on whose name was writ in water”. Keats’s first volume of poems was published in 1817 and was not well received; his second volume of poems appeared in July 1820. The bigger the ambitious, the greater the failure and the deeper the irony.
Keats's verse is in many ways much quieter and more subtle than the other poets of the Romantic age. He hasn’t moral or political purpose, his aim isn’t to show how clever and, though he shares some of Coleridge's interest in the fantastic and supernatural, he is more interested in the sensuous qualities of poetry. Keats’s verse anticipates the “art for art’s sake”, he thinks every artist is free to express their art without rules. He comes to the view that the immortal perfection of the world fascinates, but it is actually artificial and leads us to the belief that we can not live in this world.
The novel in the Romantic age
The changes in British society had his effects on the development of the novel. The Age of Revolutions put an end to the golden age of free formal experimentation that the novel had briefly enjoyed. the novel is tied to history and novelist began to reflect a wider range of themes, issues and settings.
The Scottish writer Walter Scott opened up the novel to the movements of history. Scott novels were all set in the past: their concerns were the revolutions, rebellions and social transformations of Britain’s history. His heroes are forced to confront and accept the changing nature of the world in which they live. Scott draws a parallel between the historical situational represented in his novels and the world of his time. Scott’s novels inspired the Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni, in particular, we can find a echo of Ivanhoe in I “Promessi Sposi”.
Jane Austen limited her concerns in particular to the fate of women within that society. She lived at a time when Britain was at war with France, but the only refer in her poems is the Battle of Trafalgar of 1805 in “Persuasion”. Austen's novels deliberately turn away from the history to focus on the lives of communities. Austin's disgust for the exaggeration of the feelings typical of Romanticism can be interpreted as the fear of a world that was growing out of control, and the marriages of his heroines metaphorically express a sense of order and moderation.
Sense and sensibility
When Elinor and Marianne Dashwood’s father dies, the two sisters are obliged to live under the control of their half brother John and his wife, who don’t feel strongly about giving something to them by the moment that their estate has returned back under their control. While they move to a cottage in the country side, Elinor starts to be attracted to Edward Ferrars, John’s brother in low but, he maintains himself distant from her. Meanwhile Marianne meets and immediately falls in love with John Willoughby, who seems to be interested to her. However, she soon discovers that John has became engaged to a rich heiress and she starts feeling down in the dumps. At the same time Elinor discovers from Lucy Steele that Edward has been secretly engaged to her for the last four years. But soon Lucy leaves Edward for Robert, his richer brother, so Edward proposes his engagement to Elinor, who accepts joyfully. Meanwhile Marianne accepts the proposal of Colonel Brandon, who has already been in love with her.
In this novel the problems of the women that are faced are a result of the exclusion of them from inheritance and of a meditation on the difficulties of knowing others and trusing one’s own feelings. The happiness of the two sisters depends on their ability to choose well husbands for relying on the charity of them. So it is a problem of knowledge. According to the dominant philosophical current of this time, sense and sensibility couldn’t be divided. The concepts of sense and sensibility in this novel are ironically reversed, in fact, Marianne’s sensibility refers to the cultivation of a romantic notion of spontaneous feeling. When Marianne meets Willoughby feels she has found a man as special as she imagines herself to be. The two sisters, obliged to find a husband for the society where they lived, don’t understand that their wedding is unhappy, so it isn’t as they think.
The original title for the novel was “First impressions”. The novel presents us two parallel love stories to let us understand that we should always look beyond surface appearances because people and things are never what they seem. Jane Austen had an excellent nose for the petty cruelties and small compensations that characterize a life.