The Influence Of The French Revolution Upon British Romanticism

910 words - 4 pages

The French Revolution had an important influence on the writing of the Romantic period, inspiring writers to address themes of democracy and human rights and to consider the function of revolution as a form of change. In the beginning, the French Revolution was supported by writers because of the opportunities it seemed to offer for political and social change. When those expectations were frustrated in later years, Romantic poets used the spirit of revolution to help characterize their poetic philosophies. In this essay I am going to concentrate on the influence of the French revolution on two great romantic writers, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

William Wordsworth clearly depicted Napoleon on his writing where he fought against him. In the beginning of the revolution Wordsworth appears enthusiastic and writes in favor of the revolution but after Napoleon takes over we see that enthusiasm turning into hatred for France's aggressive imperialism. Wordsworth sonnets prove that Napoleon was very much in his mind in 1805, when he was working on the "Prelude", and specifically when he crosses the Alps and he refers to Mont Blanc.

"The day we first

Beheld the summit of Mont Blanc, and grieved

To have a soulless image on the eye

Which had usurped upon a living thought

That never more could be." (1805 Prelude, VI.453-457)

Wordsworth goes across the Alps and into Italy through his sonnets as a specific indication of Napoleon's military activities of the previous years. Using a very powerful way through his writing, Wordsworth accomplishes to show his anger for Napoleon's actions during his participation in the revolution and particularly here the Alpine crossing.

Furthermore Wordsworth continues his intellectual conflict with Napoleon in "The Convention of Cintra", in which the poet criticizes Napoleon's power as being imaginary. However Wordsworth and Coleridge recognize Napoleon's ingenious talent to act far beyond the imagination. They depict Napoleon to be evil and similar to Milton's Satan.

Wordsworth and Coleridge reflect Napoleon as Satan because of his pretended role as liberator of Europe from monarchy, where at the same time illustrating Napoleon in the Miltonic role gives him an ironically heroic figure while it attacks him.

In the case of the Peninsula War Wordsworth argues that Napoleon has finally revealed his true nature by attacking rather the people and not a government

Coleridge's "Fear in Solitude" is a great example of the influence of the French revolution upon the British romanticism. "Fears in Solitude" is a very significant work for the reason that it was written during the alarm of an invasion. Moreover it is extremely topographical in order to...

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