Thursday, 14 November 2013

Drama of Ideas

"Drama of Ideas", pioneered by George Bernard Shaw, is a type of discussion play in which the clash of ideas and hostile ideologies reveals the most acute problems of social and personal morality. This type of comedy is different from the conventional comedy

Drama of Ideas established George Bernard Shaw, one of the popular dramatist in English literature

Wordsworth's Theory of Poetic Diction

Wordsworth preface to the second edition of the Lyrical Ballads, he sets fourth his aims: The principal object proposed in these poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them throughout in a selection of the language really used by men and  at the same time  to know over them a 

William Wordsworth

Wordsworth's Treatment of Nature

As a poet of nature, Wordsworth stands supreme. He is "a worshiper of Nature": Nature devoted or high -priest. Nature occupies in his poems a separate  or  independent status and is not treated in a casual or passing manner. Tin tern Abbey is a poem with Nature as its theme.

William-Wordsworth poet of nature

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Ethereal Quality of Shelly's Poetry

There is a vagueness, an abstractness, an ethereal quality about the poetry of Shelly. It is the poetry of a man living not earth, but in the aerial regions above. This ethereal in his poetry is due to the want in 
the ethereal quality of Shelly's poetry

general, of  "a sound subject-mater". Even Adonais which is a poem of grief on the death of Keats , he preserves a sense of unreality and calls in many shadowy allegorical figures.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Shelly and Byron

Shelly stands with Byron as a poet of revolt, but his devotion to liberty is purer, his love for man is readier to declare in deeds of hope and sympathy, his philosophy of life is ennobled by loftier and more selfless aims. Byron's cry  is, "I am unhappy". Shelly's "The World is Unhappy and I hope to brighten it. The two poets in their 

shelly and byron

different ways represent two sides of the French Revolution. Byron its backward destructive side, Shelly, its forward reconstructive idealists side. Byron's heroes are engrossed egotists at war with society, while

Shelly and Wordsworth as a poets of nature

Interpretation of nature, Shelly suggests Wordsworth both by resemblance and by contrast. To both poets all natural objects are symbols of truth. Both regard nature as a permeated by the higher 

Shelly was a rebel poet

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Nature as a Chief Actor in Drama

Synge is an exception, where drama is blended with nature mysticism. If some dramatists tried to maintain the balance between the two, the output was not much brilliant. Greeks to the

beauty of nature is charming us all which is a chief actor in drama.

Elizabethan, many writers tried their hand in combining dramatic poetry with nature, it remained quite distinct from the unique style of Synge. For Synge nature is not only a background or a setting to charm the

Friday, 8 November 2013

Synge's Limited Output of Plays

The premature death of Synge kept his work some what limited. the classification of the work is difficult as Synge's plays are mostly blended with both forms of dramatization in tragedy and comedy.

J M Synge limited output of play

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Tennyson's Poetry: General Characteristic

 Characteristics of Tennyson Poetry:

Tennyson is a chiefly remembered as the most representative poet of the Victorian age.   He was a national poet, whose poetry reflected the various important tendencies of his time. That is why he was a popular in his own day. But one whose poetry is so representative of his age is apt to be less universal  in his appeal.
Tennyson's Poetry General Characteristic

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

George Bernard Shaw, a Prolific Playwright.

Shaw had completed his first play Widower's Houses, in 1892. In 1893 he wrote a play called The Philanderer which was followed in1893-94, by Mrs. Warren's Profession. From now on Shaw went on writing plays without interpretation, proving himself to be a very prolific writer. Although he did not earn much popularity or income in the beginning, success came to him during the repertory season

George Barnard Shaw a prolific Playwright

Tuesday, 20 August 2013



Restoration Comedy of Manners

The Restoration comedy is also known as Comedy of Manners. These comedies expressed a reaction against Puritanism and the sexual repression it had attempted to enforce. Fashionable intrigues, sex, marriage and adultery were treated with cynicism, with worldly wit and a sense of the comedy of life. The characters in the plays no doubt owed much to the courtiers, the wits, and the men about town as well as to ladies of fashion, citizens, wives and country 

girls. ―Restoration Comedy, according to Moody and Lovett, ―is a genuine reflection of the temper, if not of the actual life, of the upper classes of the nation, and as such it has a sociological as well as a literary interest.

Style of Romeo and Juliet By Jessica Barber and McCaul Baggett.

 Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is arguably the greatest tragedy ever written. Using tragic elements such as pride, death, pain, and loss, he creates one of the most dynamic wolds in all of literature. It is the pride of the Montague and Capulet families which leads to the deaths of their children. The inability of the families to put aside their differences, even for true love, is the primary flaw in the tragedy. Ironically, the players of this drama in and of themselves are basic comic characters. As cited in Everybody's Shakespeare by

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is arguably the greatest tragedy
 Maynard Mack: "The characters are individualized, it is true, well beyond the usual comic types; but they show nonetheless some recognizable blood ties with the kinds of people we expect to meet within stage and film comedy: the Beautiful Ingenue, the Convention Ridden Parents including the Irascible Father, the Parent-Approved suitor, the Dashing Romantic Suitor, the Male Confidant and Female

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Plato's Objection to Poetry

Plato was the most distinguished disciple of Socrates. the 4th century BC to which he belonged was an age of inquiry and as such Plato’s chief interest was philosophical investigations which form the subject of his great works in form of dialogues. He wasn't a professed critic of literature and his critical observation isn't found in any single book. They lie scattered in seven of his dialogues, more particularly in the Jon, the symposium, the republic and the laws. 

He was the first systematic critic who inquired into the nature of imagination literature and put forward theories which are both illuminating and provocative. He was himself a great poet and his dialogues are the classic works of the world literature having dramatic, lyrical and fictional elements.

He gives the theory of mimesis (imitation) The arts deal with illusion or they are imitation of an imitation,

The Rivals: Anti-Sentimental Comedy

Undoubtedly Sheridan’s purpose in writing “The Rivals” was to entertain the audience by making them laugh and not by making them shed tears. “The Rivals” was written as a comedy pure and simple. Though there are certainly a few sentimental scenes in this play yet they are regarded as a parody of sentimentality. The scenes between Falkland and Julia are satire on the sentimental comedy 

which was in fashion in those days and against which Sheridan revolted. 

The Life Of John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) by G. P. Landow

John Ruskin was born on 8 February 1819 at 54 Hunter Street, London, the only child of Margaret and John James Ruskin. His father, a prosperous, self-made man who was a founding partner of Pedro Domecq Sherries, collected art and encouraged his son's literary activities, while his mother, a devout evangelical Protestant, 
The Life Of John Ruskin (1819 - 1900) by G. P. Landow

early dedicated her son to the service of God and devoutly wished him to become an Anglican bishop. Ruskin, who received his education at home until the age of twelve, rarely associated with other children and had few toys. During his sixth year he accompanied his parents on the first of many annual tours of the Continent. Encouraged by his father, he published his first poem, 'On Skiddaw and Derwent Water', at the age of eleven, and four years later his first prose work, an article on the waters of the Rhine.

A Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy by Oliver Goldsmith

The theater, like all other amusements, has its fashions and its prejudices; and when satiated with its excellence, mankind began to mistake change for improvement. For some years tragedy was the reigning entertainment; but of late it has entirely given way to comedy, and our best efforts are now exerted in these lighter kinds 

of composition. The pompous train, the swelling phrase, and the unnatural rant are displaced for that natural portrait of human folly and frailty, of which all are judges, because all have sat for the picture.

But, as in describing nature it is presented with a double face, either of mirth or sadness, our modern writers

Sentimental Comedy

Sentimental comedy, a dramatic genre of the 18th century, denoting plays in which middle-class protagonists triumphantly overcome a series of moral trials. 
Sentimental Comedy

Such comedy aimed at producing tears rather than laughter. Sentimental comedies reflected contemporary

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Development of English Prose Upto Bacon’s Time

The English prose of Alfred’s days differs radically in its linguistic structure from the English of the 1.

4th century It has, therefore, little direct influence upon the development of the new literary prose. Alfred and his contemporaries had fashioned a prose which was wonderfully flexible. According to the nature of the subject treated it was either conversational and intimate in tone or sonorous and periodic in 

Development  of English Prose Upto Bacon’s Time

expression. The prose of the 14th century consists mostly of translation from Latin and French devotional writings and homilies. They aim more at the edification of the common people than at style. The writers had no conception of the function of the sentence This defect persisted as late as the

Elizabethan Prose

The Elizabethans had a genius for poetry and drama but their prose is often intolerable. They enriched the language by adding to its vocabulary many new words and phrases. But some of their prose is heavy, pompous and undisciplined. This pomp and their indiscipline 

Elizabethan Prose picture

are one product of a quest of persuasiveness. They occur chiefly in the works of those who sought to achieve their object by writing periodic prose in the manner of Cicero. Other peculiarities mark the work of those who tried to achieve it by writing what is called euphemistic prose. This was a style John Lily made fashionable. Hooker modeled his style on the structure of

Bacon: A Political and Moral Thinker

Bacon's most important moral work is the Essays on counsels – civil and moral. These were published in the three editions during Bacon’s life time. The first edition appears in 1597 containing ten essays. The third edition appears in 1625 in which the number of essays went up to 58. The moral tone of these essays is at times 

Bacon: A Political and Moral Thinker

questionable. Quite often Bacon appears to be an opportunist. In his morals he is absolutely of this world. There are places where there is shallow worldliness which is highly disturbing and does no credit to this great man. For example even “such a noble and powerful sentiment as love

Bacon: a Scientific Thinker

As a scientific thinker we are not to look to him for any particular discoveries. In fact he did not know very well the many problems connected with scientific inquiry in his own time. In some cases he rejected truth, and followed old fashioned and wrong beliefs.

Bacon: a Scientific Thinker

 But his influence as a scientific thinker, cannot be denied and at the same time underrated. The influence exercised by him was naturally of a kind which we should expect from a thinker who had taken the whole field of knowledge as his province. F.G. Selby points out: “Inquirers were naturally gratified by the dignity which he gave to their labours, and encourage by the prospects which he held out. He gave to science a human interest. He gave it high hopes and a definite aim.” Very often the critics of Bacon try to belittle his importance by saying that he made no scientific discovery and his method of inquiry could never become the method of great scientists later on. This argument does not hold much water. The scientific discovery in itself is not so important as the faith that Science is an important field of human activity which could open up the secrets of Nature. Bush, the critic is very correct when he says “Bacon is not historically negligible a scientific thinker. His scientific deficiency does not essentially weaken the force of his message for his time”. Indeed, it was Bacon who substituted the humble and critical interrogation of Nature for the arbitrary concept of traditional authority. It was a very big achievement indeed for a great lawyer, statesman. To quote Bush once again, “he not only summoned men

Bacon: A Philosophical Thinker

To the students of literature Bacon will remain a great name and force because of his Essays. But the legal, historical and even the moral works do not sum up his most valuable achievement in

scholarship. His greatest contribution to the Advancement of Learning was made possible by his philosophical works. As a philosophical thinker he was inspired by two purposes: 1. He wanted to increase the bounds of human knowledge. 2. He wanted to make man powerful over Nature.

Bacon and Astrology

Bacon had mixed views when it came to the practice of astrology. He felt that astrology was very full of superstition, and argued that there was very little sound evidence to be discovered in it. However, he wanted to see astrology ‘purified’ rather than rejected altogether [Tester, 220]. He believed that astrology needed to be based on reason and physical speculation, and rejected the use of horoscopes, nativities, elections, and query. He argued that these factors were the very “delight” of astrology, and in his judgment, were based on nothing pure or solid. Bacon insisted that the 

Bacon and Astrology

heavenly bodies affected the more sensitive bodies, such as humors, air, spirits, an actually affected solid bodies and large numbers of people. However, he also felt that the influence on an “individual” was so small that it would be insignificant [Tester,

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

Sense and Sensibility is a novel by Jane Austen, and was her first published work when it appeared in 1811 under the pseudonym "A Lady". A work of romantic fiction, Sense and Sensibility is set in-southwest England between 1792 and 1797, and portrays the life and loves of the Dash-wood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. The novel follows the young ladies to their new home, a meager cottage on a distant relative's property, where they experience love, romance 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

and heartbreak. The philosophical resolution of the novel is ambiguous: the reader must decide whether sense and sensibility have truly merged.

Summary of Sense and Sensibility

When Mr. Henry Dash-wood dies, leaving all his money to his first wife's son John Dash-wood, his second wife and her three daughters are left with no permanent

A Birthday Present by Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath's "A Birthday Present" is one of her remarkable creation. 

What is this, behind this veil, is it ugly, is it beautiful? It is shimmering, has it breasts, has it edges? I am sure it is unique, I am sure it is what I want. When I am quiet at my cooking I feel it looking, I feel it thinking 'Is this the one I am too appear for, Is this the elect one, the one with black eye-pits and a scar? Measuring the flour, cutting off the surplus, Adhering to rules, to rules, to rules. Is 

A Birthday Present by Sylvia Plath

this the one for the annunciation? My god, what a laugh!' But it shimmers, it does not stop, and I think it wants me. I would not mind if it were bones, or a pearl button. I do not want much of a present, anyway, this year. After all I am alive only by accident. I would have

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Short History of the Sonnet


History of the Sonnet:

Invented in Italy in the thirteenth century, the sonnet was brought to a high form of development in the fourteenth century by Francesco Petrarch (1304–74), Italian poet and humanist best remembered now for his sonnets dedicated to an idealized lady named Laura glimpsed in a church, and with whom he fell in love at first sight, or so the legend goes. Laura’s true identity is unknown; 

A Short History of the Sonnet

Our Little Ghost by Louisa May Alcott

FT in the silence of the night, When the lonely moon rides high, when wintry winds are whistling, and we hear the owl's shrill cry; In the quiet, dusky chamber,By the flickering firelight, Rising up between two sleepers, comes a spirit all in white. A winsome little ghost it is,Rosy-cheeked and bright of eye,With yellow curls all 

Our Little Ghost by Louisa May Alcott

breaking loose From the small cap pushed awry; Up it climbs among the pillows,For the "big gars" brings no dread, and a baby's busy fancy Makes a kingdom of a bed. A fearless little ghost it is;Safe the night as is the

Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm

There were once a man and a woman who had long, in vain, wished for a child. At length it appeared that God was about to grant their desire. 

These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world. 
Rapunzel by Brothers Grimm

One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful ramp-ion, and it looked so fresh and

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.

Little Men, or Life at Plum field with Jo's Boys is a novel by American author Louisa May Alcott, first published in 1871. The novel reprises characters from Little Women and is considered by 

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott.

some the second book of an unofficial Little Women trilogy, which is completed with Alcott's 1886 novel Jo's Boys, and How They Turned Out: A Sequel to "Little Men". Little Men tells the story of Jo Bhaer and the children at Plum field Estate School. The book was inspired by the

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Tristan and Isolde

The legend of Tristan and Isolde is the tragic tale of two lovers fated to share a forbidden but undying love. Scholars of mythology believe that the legend originated in Brittany, in western France. In time it was associated with the Arthurian legends and became part of the mythology of medieval Europe, told and retold in various versions and in many languages.

Tristan and Isolde

The Legend. Tristan (sometimes called Tristram), the nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, was a symbol of all the virtues of chivalry, including bravery and honor. Some accounts also claim that he was a brilliant harp player. According to the most detailed versions of this legend, the king of Ireland

Thesis Statements for Literary Analysis

What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement is the controlling idea of a paper. It expresses succinctly the idea that the body of the paper will prove. Other names for the thesis statement are "main idea," "controlling idea," and "thesis." If the paper is a literary analysis, as all of the papers you will write for your AP literature course will be, your thesis statement will make a debatable claim about one or more works of literature. Usually, thesis statements appear in the first paragraph of the paper.

Thesis Statements for Literary Analysis

Can any statement be a thesis statement? No. A thesis statement should be a fresh idea or opinion that is supportable based on facts or evidence taken from the story, poem or play discussed in the

American Realism (1865-1890)

Realism is the literary term applied to compositions that aim at a faithful representation of reality, interpretations of the actualities of any aspect of life. As an reaction against romanticism it is free of subjective prejudice, idealism or romance and often deals with representing the middle class. Unlike naturalism, however, it does not focus on the scientific laws that control life, but the specific actions and their consequences.

American Realism  (1865-1890)

Realists writers were influenced by British and Foreign writers, but to a great extent the transition from romance to realism was indigenous. The beginnings of realism started with the realistic and detailed

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Picaresque Novel

Picaresque novel, early form of novel, usually a first-person narrative, relating the adventures of a rogue or low-born adventurer (Spanish pícaro) as he drifts from place to place and from one social milieu to another in his effort to survive. In its episodic structure the picaresque novel resembles the long, rambling romances of 

Picaresque Novel

medieval chivalry, to which it provided the first realistic counterpart. Unlike the idealistic knight-errant hero, however, the

picaro is a cynical and a moral rascal who, if given half a chance,would rather live by his wits than by honorable work. The picaro wanders about and has adventures among people from all social classes and professions, often just barely escaping punishment for his own lying, cheating, and stealing. He is a

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Tradition and the Individual Talent’

According to the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Tradition means a belief, principle or way of acting which people in a particular society or group have continued to follow for a long time, or all of these beliefs, etc. in a particular society or group. Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes ‘Tradition’ an ‘inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom)’. Eliot commences the essay with the general attitude towards ‘Tradition’.He points out that every nation and race has its creative and critical turn of mind, and emphasizes the need for critical thinking. ‘We might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing.’In ‘Tradition and Individual Talent’, Eliot introduces the idea of Tradition. Interestingly enough, Eliot’s contemporaries and commentators either derided the idea as irrelevant, conservative and backward-looking stance or appreciated the idea and read it in connection with Matthew Arnold’s historical criticism of texts popularly known as ‘touchstone’ method. In this section we will first make an attempt to summarize Eliot’s concept of tradition and then will seek to critique it for a comprehensive understanding of the texts.

At the very outset, Eliot makes it clear that he is using the term tradition as an adjective to explain the relationship of a poem or a work to the works of dead poets and artists. He regrets that in our appreciation of authors we hardly include their connections with those living and dead. Also our critical apparatus is significantly limited to the language in which the work is produced. A work produced in a different language can be considered for a better appreciation of the work. In this connection, he notices “our tendency to insist…those aspects” of a writer’s work in which “he least resembles anyone else”. Thus, our appreciation of the writer is derived from exhumation of the uniqueness of the work. In the process, the interpretation of the work focuses on identifying the writer’s difference from his predecessors. Eliot critiques this tendency in literary appreciation and favors inclusion of work or parts of work of dead poets and predecessors.

Although Eliot attaches greater importance to the idea of tradition, he rejects the idea of tradition in the name of ‘Blind or Timid Adherence’ to successful compositions of the past. By subscribing to the idea of tradition, Eliot does not mean sacrificing novelty nor does he mean slavish repetitions of stylistic and structural features. By the term ‘Tradition’, he comes up with something ‘of much wider significance”. By ‘Tradition’, he does not refer to a legacy of writers which can be handed down from a generation to another generation. It has nothing to do with the idea of inheritance; rather it regrets a great deal of endearing He further argues, “It involves... The historical sense... and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastiness of the past but its presence; … This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.” By this statement, Eliot wants to emphasize that the writer or the poet must develop a sense of the pastiness of the past and always seeks to examine the poem or the work in its relation to the works of the dead writers or the poets. To substantiate his point of view, Eliot says, “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and the artists.” As he says this, he is perfectly aware of Matthew Arnold’s notion of historical criticism and therefore distances himself from such the Arnold critical stance. He identifies his approach to literary appreciation “as a principle of aesthetics and thereby distinguishes it from Arnold’s “Historical Criticism”. Thus, Eliot offers an organic theory and practice of literary criticism. In this, he treats tradition not as a legacy but as an invention of anyone who is ready to create his or her literary pantheon, depending on his literary tastes and positions. This means that the development of the writer will depend on his or her ability to build such private spaces for continual negotiation and even struggle with illustrious antecedents, and strong influences. Harold Bloom terms the state of struggle as “The anxiety of influence”, and he derides Eliot for suggesting a complex, an elusive relationship between the tradition and the individual, and goes on to develop his own theory of influence.

Saturday, 30 March 2013


Another important aspect of Romanticism is the exotic. Just as Romantics responded to the longing of people for a distant past, so they provided images of distant places. The distances need not be terribly great: Spain was a favorite "exotic" setting for French Romantics, for instance. North Africa and the Middle East provided images of "Asia" to Europeans. Generally anywhere south of the country where one was resided was considered more relaxed, more colorful, more sensual.

Such exoticism consisted largely of simple stereotypes endlessly repeated, but the Romantic age was also a period in which Europeans traveled more than ever to examine at first hand the far-off lands of which they had read. Much of this tourism was heavily freighted with the attitudes fostered by European colonialism, which flourished during this period. Most "natives" were depicted as inevitably lazy, unable to govern themselves while those who aspired to European sophistication were often derided as "spoiled." Many male travelers viewed the women of almost any foreign land one could name as more sexually desirable and available than the women at home, and so they are depicted in fiction, drama, art, and opera.

Just as Scott was the most influential force in popularizing the romantic historical novel, exoticism in literature was inspired more by Lord Byron--especially his Child e Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-1818)--than by any other single writer. Whereas the Romantic lyric poetry of Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Wordsworth had a negligible influence outside of their native tongue, the sweep of Byron's longer poems translated well into other languages and other artistic media.

Romantic exoticism is not always in tension with Romantic nationalism, for often the latter focused on obscure folk traditions which were in themselves exotic to the audiences newly exposed to them. Goethe's witches were not more familiar to his audience because they were Germanic, unlike, say, the Scottish witches in Macbeth.>

Friday, 29 March 2013


Rousseau was a moody, over-sensitive, even paranoid sort of fellow, much given to musing on his own feelings. Like the Englishman Samuel Richardson, he explored in his fiction the agonies of frustrated love--particularly in his sensationally successful novel The New Heloise--and celebrated the peculiar refinement of feeling the English called "sensibility" which we call "sensitivity." Of all aspects of Romantic fiction, the penchant for tearful sentimental wallowing in the longings and disappointments of frustrated protagonists is most alien to modern audiences. Only in opera and film where the power of music is summoned to reinforce the emotions being evoked can most modern audiences let themselves go entirely, and then only within limits.

The great minds of the 20th century have generally rejected sentimentalism, even defining its essence as false, exaggerated emotion; and we tend to find mawkish or even comical much that the Romantic age prized as moving and beautiful. Yet there was more than cheap self-indulgence and escapism in this fevered emotionalism. Its proponents argued that one could be morally and spiritually uplifted by cultivating a greater sensitivity to feelings. The cultivation of empathy for the sufferings of others could even be a vehicle for social change, as in the works of Charles Dickens. That this emotionalism was sometimes exaggerated or artificial should not obscure the fact that it also contained much that was genuine and inspiring. It is not clear that we have gained so much by prizing in our modern literature attitudes of cynicism, detachment, and ruthlessness.

Of all the emotions celebrated by the Romantics, the most popular was love. Although the great Romantic works often center on terror or rage, the motive force behind these passions is most often a relationship between a pair of lovers. In the classical world love had been more or less identical with sex, the Romans treating it in a particularly cynical manner. The Medieval troubadours had celebrated courtly adultery according to a highly artificial code that little reflected the lives of real men and women while agreeing with physicians that romantic passion was a potentially fatal disease. It was the romantics who first celebrated romantic love as the natural birthright of every human being, the most exalted of human sentiments, and the necessary foundation of a successful marriage. Whether or not one agrees that this change of attitude was a wise one, it must be admitted to have been one of the most influential in the history of the world.

This is not the place to trace the long and complex history of how the transcendent, irrational, self-destructive passion of a Romeo and Juliet came to be considered the birthright of every European citizen; but this conviction which continues to shape much of our thinking about relationships, marriage, and the family found its mature form during the Romantic age. So thoroughly has love become identified with romance that the two are now generally taken as synonyms, disregarding the earlier associations of "romance" with adventure, terror, and mysticism.


The Gothic novel embraced the Medieval ("Gothic") culture so disdained by the early 18th century. Whereas classical art looked back constantly to the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Romantics celebrated for the first time since the Renaissance the wilder aspects of the creativity of Western Europeans from the 12th through the 14th centuries: stained glass in soaring cathedrals, tales of Robin Hood and his merry men, and--above all--the old tales of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. This influence was to spread far beyond the Gothic romance to all artistic forms in Europe, and lives on in the popular fantasy novels of today. Fairies, witches, angels--all the fantastic creatures of the Medieval popular imagination came flooding back into the European arts in the Romantic period (and all are present in Faust).

The longing for "simpler" eras not freighted with the weight of the Classical world gave rise to a new form: the historical novel. Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) was by far its most successful practitioner. Although credit for writing the first historical novel should probably go to Madame de Lafayette for her La Princess de Clèves(1678), Scott is generally considered to have developed the form as we know it today. Almost forgotten now, his novels like The Bride of Lammermoor and Ivanhoe nevertheless inspired writers, painters, and composers in Germany, France, Italy, Russia and many other lands.

Romantic Period in American Literature, 1830-1865.

The period between the "second revolution" of the Jacksonian Era and the close of the Civil War in America saw the testings of a nation and its development by ordeal. It was an age of great westward expansion, of the increasing gravity of the slavery question, of an intensification of the spirit of embattled sectionalism in the South, and of a powerful impulse to reform in the North. Its culminating act was the trial by arms of the opposing views in a civil war, whose conclusion certified the fact of a united nation dedicated to the concepts of industry and capitalism and philosophically committed to egalitarianism. In a sense it may be said that the three decades following the inauguration of President Andrew Jackson in 1829 put to the test his views of democracy and saw emerge from the test a secure union committed to essentially Jacksonian principles.

In literature it was America's first great creative period, a full flowering of the romantic impulse on American soil. Surviving form the Federalist Age were its three major literary figures: Bryant, Irving, and Cooper. Emerging as new writers of strength and creative power were the novelists Hawthorne, Simms, Melville, and Harriet Beecher Stowe; the poets Poe, Whittier, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Dickinson, and Whitman; the essayists Thoreau, Emerson, and Holmes; the critics Poe, Lowell, and Simms....

The poetry was predominantly romantic in spirit and form. Moral qualities were significantly present in the verse of Emerson, Bryant, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Lowell, and Thoreau. The sectional issues were debated in poetry by Whittier and Lowell speaking for abolition, and Timrod, Hayne, and Simms speaking for the South. Poe formulated his theories of poetry and in some fifty lyrics practiced a symbolic verse that was to be, despite the change of triviality by such contemporaries as Emerson, the strongest single poetic influence emerging from pre-Civil War America, particularly in its impact on European poetry....Whitman, beginning with the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, was the ultimate expression of a poetry organic in form and romantic in spirit, united to a concept of democracy that was pervasively egalitarian.

In essays and in lectures the New England transcendentalists-- Emerson, Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Alcott--carried the expression of philosophic and religious ideas to a high level....In the 1850s emerged the powerful symbolic novels of Hawthorne and Melville and the effective propaganda novel of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Poe, Hawthorne, and Simms practiced the writing of short stories through the period, taking up where Irving had left off in the development of the form,,,,

At the end of the Civil War a new nation had been born, and it was to demand and receive a new literature less idealistic and more practical, less exalted and more earthy, less consciously artistic and more honest than that produced in the age when the American dream had glowed with greatest intensity and American writers had made a great literary period by capturing on their pages the enthusiasm and the optimism of that dream.

T. S. Eliot as a Critic

Besides being a poet, playwright and publisher, T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) was one of the most seminal critics of his time. Carlo Linati, his Italian critic, found his poetry to be ‘irrational, incomprehensible… a magnificent puzzle’, and in his poetic endeavors ‘a deliberate critical purpose’. Also in his literary criticism Eliot’s personality has found its full expression. Thus Eliot’s literary criticism can be seen as expression of his poetic credo. As one of the seminal critics of the twentieth century; Eliot shows a disinterested endeavour of critical faculty and intelligence in analyzing a work of art. For the sake a systematic discussion, his critical works may be grouped under the following headings: