Appunti, Tesina di, appunto inglese


ricerca 1
ricerca 2


Politically speaking

From 1776 (the American War of Independence)

or from 1769 (James Watt invented the steam engine)

to 1832 (the 1st Reform Bill was passed)

or to 1837 (Queen Victoria ascended the throne)


Historical background

Romanticism = literary expression on an AGE OF REVOLUTIONS:

the American War of Independence (1776)

the French Revolution (1789)

the Industrial Revolution (1769, the steam engine)

French Revolution influenced England from an ideal point of view (freedom, change, social justice).

American War of Independence and the Industrial Revolution changed political and economical situation of England.

The INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION was the change from an agrarian or maritime economy to an industrialised one, which radically transformed England and Scotland (à the BLACK COUNTRY)

It was born in England à Britain needed natural sources (Britain lost its colonies in America after the war)

  • population growth (increasing numbers of consumers and workers)
  • the rise of the factory town (workers' houses near the factories) à urbanisation (Birmingham, Sheffield, Manchester)
  • living and working conditions (very poor, dangerous)
  • Transport Revolution (better roads, network of canals)
  • Agricultural Revolution (transformation of rural areas through the new machines)
  • new inventions (steam engine, spinning jenny, water frame, spinning loom)
  • birth of a working class à associations to look after workers' interests (firstly illegal, then legalised from the Parliament)

Romanticism in Literature

à Romantic Age

term "Romantic":

used in England for the first time towards the middle of the 16th century to stress with disdain the unreal and fanciful elements of the chivalrous and pastoral romances of that period (see Thomas Malary, Le Morte Darthur)

continued to be used during the 18th century in contrast with reason and linked with emotion, feeling and imagination

used in Germany for the first time with a wide, positive meaning, to stress a spiritual, irrational, often unknow and sublime attitude of man in front of Nature (sublime by Burke= something great, tremendous and impressive, arousing emotions of fear)

Romanticism affected the whole of European culture:

GERMANY Sturm und Drang Movement (1770); was essentially philosophical, asserted nationalism, drew from Rousseau's interest in nature and stressed the individual and his feelings

ENGLAND It started in the 1780s; is best represented by its poetry

FRANCE It developed mainly in drama and literary criticism

ITALY It starter in 1816; it had a strong nationalistic component. Best represented by novel and poetry

The English Romanticism

It was different from the Romanticism which spread out all over the continent à reaction to the aesthetic values of the Augustan Age

Romantics' aims

Observation and meditation was the starting point of the poetic output, which would be painted then with . .imagination (Preface to Lyrical Ballads)

The artist was a natural genius, wrote spontaneously and expressed his feelings

Imagination involves experience and memory based on an inventing power

Romantic poet used ballad, sonnet, ode

Key concepts:

The stress on imagination and on individual experience

The conception of the artist as an original creator free from any neo-classical control by models and rules

The notion of nature as a living organic structure and as a medium for conveying fundamental spiritual truths as well as the importance attached to natural scenery

A distinctive style which in literature included widespread use of imagery, symbolism and myth

In 1798 started the Romantic Movement in Britain, when WORDSWORTH and COLERIDGE published the collection of experimental (this adjective shows that the most of the poems were new) poems called Lyrical Ballads (manifesto of English Romanticism).

Four editions:

1800 (preface: the poet's task is to make poems from things the poet really sees and feels)

The preface to 1802's edition established the basis of Romantism. Wordsworth justified the reasons why he wrote the Lyrical Ballads:

What is poetry? "I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquillity"

What is a poet? "He is a man speaking to men: a man, it true, endued with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul; a man with his own passions and volitions"

What is the best language to describe both of them? "The principal object was to choose incidents and situations from common life in a selection of language really used by men to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination" "Low and rustic life was generally chosen, because in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil and speak a plainer and more emphatic language"

English Romanticism is divided into two periods:

j FIRST GENERATION was represented by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southy. They started Romanticism and concentrated their attention on freedom and on the description of nature. F.G. concerned with the Industrial Revolution, since it proved to be a menace for Nature (the ideal background for meditation and the main source of poetic inspiration.

k SECOND GENERATION was represented by Byron, Shelley and Keats, and was concentrated on the development of political events in Europe. Shelley and Byron were affected by the atmosphere of national identity.

Byron died during a journey to Greece, where he went to ht for the independence of Greece from the Turkish domination. They spend more of their life in Italy, "the land of lemons, the land of sun, feelings and culture". Byron and Shelley migrated to Italy: England was very conventional, that was the reason of their migration.

Keats stayed apart, a kind of exception. He died at the age of 24 of tuberculosis. He wrote a lots of poems. His life was extremely plugged of death (his mother died of tuberculosis). He was convinced that he was already dead (posthumous existence). When you suffer too much you curiously produce the best of yourself (see Keats). The critics were against Keats because he was too young. Actually he started a new trend (aestheticism) between later romanticism and the early aestheticism. 



It was the true preromantic poet in England. His most celebrated poems are Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794). They are collection of short poems that present a vision of the world from the eyes of a child and of a man. Blake was convinced that the world was actually made up with innocence and experience: a person is not a person if he doesn't pass from one state to another.

Innocence à freedom, love, imagination (lamb) (infant joy)

Experience à authority, limit (tiger) (infant sorrow)

He used the technique of symbolism to describe feelings and facts, the symbols he used were simple (associations of ideas).

F I r s t   g e n e r a t I o n



He was born in Cockermouth on the edge of the Lake District. After graduating at Cambridge University he travelled to France in 1791 were aroused by the revolutionary movement. He fell in love with Annette Vallon who bore him a daughter. In 1797 he made friends with Coleridge and the two poets worked in collaboration for the Lyrical Ballads. He wrote the preface to L.B., and also the opening poem Tintern Abbey (name of a church in the Lake District where he lived for a long time). He is closely connected to the Lake District, where he found God, truth, moral values, joy and inspiration. The last thirty years of his life were almost uneventful. He continued to write and revise his works: The Prelude, Poems in Two Volumes, The Excursion. His reputation increased throughout his life and he was made POET LAUREATE in 1843. He died in 1850.



It is his most important subject and is used in a variety of senses in his poems. 2 meanings

u COUNTRYSIDE as opposed to the town

countryside in I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud and in The Solitary Reaper

urban landscape in Composed upon Westminster Bridge à then become a sort of rural landscape

v nature as a SOURCE OF FEELINGS

words that emphasize joy at the bright colour and gentle movement of the dancing daffodils

a record of man's response to nature, often joyful


some sort of goddess which manifests herself in the wild secluded countryside

pantheistic view of the world which is seen as an expression of God


The previous age had generally valued children not for what they are but for the adults they might become.

It did not appreciate the irrationality of childhood since it placed an excessive emphasis on reason.

He  knew Rousseau's ideas, and he attached much importance to childhood as the time when man is closest to God and can feel the glorious splendour of the natural world around him.

He is the one able to describe the relationship between what you see and what you feel

According to Wordsworth is impossible for everybody to be a poet

The idea that only the poet can go through this step is geniality, no common people can

Wordsworth was convinced that anybody should read poetry to learn how to feel, how to express feelings. That's the reason why he is a DEMOCRATIC THINKER , using common words, simple constructions (Daffodils is a good example for simplicity, it is easy to understood)



He was more involved in everything

He wrote for everybody

He was more interested in the supernatural, situations and conditions far away from normality

To describe supernatural he used ures of speech (à poetry becomes more difficult)

He wrote specially for himself



He is remembered more for another romantic element in his poetry: the emphasis on the supernatural, the mysterious and the dreamlike. In The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (rime=old English for ballad), which was included in the Lyrical Ballads, he revived the traditional ballad of the Middle Ages.

The Rime of the Ancient Manner deals with imagination and fantasy. For the Lyrical Ballads he wrote 4 compositions.

In 1816 he published Kubla Khan (he was an oriental king probably met by Marco Polo during his travels): it evoked an opium dream and was a perfect example of the magical tendency present in his poetry.

Coleridge wrote under effects of drags: he was ill, affected from diseases and he suffered a lot. He was addicted to drags and abused of them, he could not write without drags. He wrote his best works under the dependence of drags. He was one of the most fascinated romantic writers.

S e c o n d   g e n e r a t I o n

Byron and Shelley brought innovations in panorama of Romanticism in England. While Wordsworth was inspired from freedom of revolution in France, they were inspired by the politicall revolution to get freedom all around Europe (for instance Italy and Greece).They searched a place near their mentality, their way of thinking: Italy. Italy is the place of the sun (metaphorically speaking), where people is friendly and communicate with the heart. In Italy , the motherland of culture, Byron and Shelley found instruments of communication. They shared the same behaviour against the society, made of rules and conventions, and moved from London. They travelled a lot because they were interested in reality and because they wanted to find a proper place to live.



He had a difficult childhood and adolescence, because of a strict (severa) mother with mental problems and because of a physical defect which made him limp (zoppo). He inheriting the title of Lord.

He studied at Cambridge University, where around him it built the legend of a rebellious youth. He was snubbed by London aristocracy that considered him a provincial outsider in spite of his title. Byron made a Grand Tour, during which he took inspiration for Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (at the age of 24), the poetical account of his trip. People identified the hero Harold with the author.

Byron's literary success and the image of the Romantic hero made an enormous impact on the women of London aristocracy, and the young poet became involved in a series of affairs that turned London society against him (incestuous affair with his half-sister, end of his brief marriage).

Byron left England forever in 1816, and eventually (infine) settled in Italy to get inspiration to his writing and to find the ideal place to lead his freedom. He left in 1824 to ht for the independence in Greece. He died there of fever in the same year.

He was a handsome aristocrat who rebelled against all kind of social conventions and hypocrisy. He was the forerunner of Oscar Wilde. He was an idealist and a cynic. His death made him even more of a legendary ure.




the protagonist is Juan, a young Spanish aristocrat

the protagonist is the typical Byronic hero: Harold is a solitary person but pleasure-seeking; he keeps away from his family and has hardly any friends, but enjoys women's company and wine

social satire, revival of Swift and Pope

unrestrained language, irreverent tone, text full of humour; the characters' speeches are very natural and conversational

Harold's behaviour and language are rather artificial and affected. He uses a literary vocabulary that sounds stiff (faticoso) and exaggerated

Nature is described as a projection of the poet's feelings; several elements of nature are personified and seem to take part in the poet's sorrow

CHILDE is an old name given to KNIGHT

Byron is a knight à he hts against himself and the society

PILGRIMAGE is a word used by Chaucer in Canterbury Tales; it was used to satisfy faith à it is the perpetual search to free his spirit



He was born into a family of country gentry. He was sent to Eton and then entered University College in Oxford, but was expelled in 1811 for publishing a pamphlet in which he asserted that God's existence is not provable. A few months later he eloped (scappò) with and married Harriet Westbrook (16 years old).

For 3 years they lived a nomadic existence while Shelley was active as a political radical (à he supported republicanism, parliamentary reform, Irish independence, vegetarianism and free love).

In 1814 the marriage failed and Shelley eloped with Mary Godwin (she wrote Frankestein), daughter of William Godwin. In 1816 they travelled to the Continent and joined their friend Byron in Switzerland for some time. On return to England Shelley continued writing poetry and in 1818 he published The Revolt of Islam. In the same year he left for Italy, where he wrote most of his best poetry (personal suffering: the loss of 2 children, Mary's depression). He composed a number of political poems (The Mask of Anarchy) and in Italy finished Prometheus Unbound (1819), a verse drama in which he voiced his revolutionary idealism.

In 1819 he also wrote Ode to the West Wind

The Cloud

To a Skylark

In 1821 he wrote his famous elegy on the death of the poet Keats, Adonais.

He settled first in Pisa, then on the bay of Spezia where he was drowned in a boating accident in 1822.


He did not believe in God, but in some power pervading the universe (Love, The One)à visualized in the images of fire and light à this universal power spoke through the living forms of nature (wind, skylark).

Shelley felt he was living in an age marked by "the war of the oppressed against the oppressors" à struggle of good against evil.

NATURE is not confined to a purely physical existence à invisible powers which govern the universe work through the physical environment (àwind, skylark [they are free and happy] à metaphorical expressions of the elemental forces necessary to change and regenerate society)

Poetry à prophetic status

Poet à he makes the world feel in harmony "with hopes and fears it heeded (fare attenzione) not"


attention to poetic composition (form and composition)

variety of forms

highly urative language (similes, metaphors)

message of the poem à function of poetry, role of the poet as a prophet of social change

Byron met and became friend of Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shelley was a revolutionary spirit who championed the ideals of freedom and love against the tyranny of king, church and family (political institutions). He wrote political poems, allegorical poems and poetic dramas. (Ode to the West Wind)



John Keats was born in London, the first of four children (three boys and a girl). His parents had great ambitions for their sons. He had a great affection for his family and suffered greatly for the loss of both his parents while he was only a schoolboy. At the age of 24, he fell in love with Fanny Brawne, but their financial situation made their marriage impracticable. He suffered of tuberculosis, the illness that had already killed his mother and his brother Tom. At he end of 1820, he left for Italy in search of a more temperate climate, but he died only a few months later in Rome.

Keats began writing poetry in 1814 and in 1816, gave up his profession of apothecary to devote himself to it full-time. In the same year he met Leigh Hunt, a radical journalist and a poet himself, who recognized Keats's poetic genius.

His literature was extremely personal, like Leopardi in Zibaldone di pensieri and Idilli.

During his life Keats published 3 volumes of poetry:

In 1817 he published the first volume.

In 1818 he published the second, Endymion, that was attacked by conservative critics who believed in his membership of Hunt's radical circle. These malicious reviews (maligne riviste) caused him pain, but did not deflect (sviare) him from his determination to be a poet.

The third volume, Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems, appeared in 1820 and contains many of his finest poems, including his Odes.

A final collection, including La Bella Dame Sans Merci, was published posthumously in 1848, as wew his letters to his brothers, sister and friends, describing his own personality and the people and events surrounding him.

His first two poems were not welcome by critics because he was not understood. He used mythology in a metaphorical way, and the critics maintained that he was ancient, boring.

He is consider the forerunner of aestheticism of Oscar Wilde.

Only a few people, specially his friends, recognised Keats's genius during his lifetime (Byron scorned his works, Shelley recognised his genius too late). Only after his death, Shelley wrote for him an elegy, Adonais.

Keats had a prediction during his life "I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death".

Themes:  nature



love and beauty

the contrast between these ideals and the real world

Shelley uses poetry as a social instrument, poetry is a social manifesto in the hands of the poet.

Ode on a Grecian Urn

The urn which is decorated with three scenes is a perfect work of art: its great limitation is that it never changes, never moves, that the men and the women on it never come to life, never share the joy and the suffering of the human being. The scenes painted on an ancient Grecian urn represent the immortal beauty of art. Beauty is the sole truth.

La Belle Dame Sans Merci à marks the beginning of aestheticism)

It tells about an encounter (incontro) between a knight and a supernatural woman, his happiness and despair about the falling in love with the fatal woman, a beautiful lady who attracts lovers only to destroy them by her supernatural powers.

The literary ballad seems to suggest that love cannot last: it is an illusion which can also be destructive.

The imagery of the poem influenced the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists and poets who became active after 1848.

Oscar Wilde said "a beautiful thing is not always good" à the message of the ballad is the same.

Keats and Wilde tried to express that appearances are often untrue. What you see it not always what it is.

The perfect beauty is something that resists against time (technical beauty) à mythology and Greek art are beautiful forever, but it does not mean that they are good.

Ode to Autumn

It is noteworthy (degno di nota) for its richly sensuous language and imagery. The poem is essentially a vivid description of an early autumn landscape when the products of nature have reached a state of perfect maturity. The ode celebrates the colours, the fruits and the activities of autumn and their warm beauty.

1st and 2nd stanzas à the richness of the season recreates through appeals to th senses of sight, taste and touch

3rd stanza à there are a great number of words appealing to the sense of hearing.


© ePerTutti.com : tutti i diritti riservati
Condizioni Generali - Invia - Contatta