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Age Of Enlightenment Classicism Versus Romanticism English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2538 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The age of enlightenment “classicism” which ran from 17th to 18th century had the following values: In classicism, both nature and human nature are governed by reason simply because reason is valued over mere imaginations. People are basically good and with freedom, they are capable of making a perfect society that not only guarantees freedom but also values social over individual or personal. Things are done in collection as a society and not at an individual basis. In terms of day to day life, everything is done in order, balance and harmony with a tradition consideration. Classicism actually influenced classical period in classical music.

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Talking of classicism, we have a period called romanticism. This period follows classicism and it is thought as a rebellious to socio-cultural and aesthetics mode of conduct that was being practiced by then. Idealization and rationality are highly rejected with valuing of emotions and intuition over reason. Things are done in emotions and prefer the senses over the intellect. Here, personal or individual is valued over the society. The beauty as well as mystery of nature is greatly appreciated. Therefore, the focus is on the human nature taking into considerations the personality, the moods, passions as well as inner struggles. This period influenced romantic period in classical music.

Starting with aesthetic/theatrical issue, I will consider music. Music of the classical period was characterized by the following features. The music sounded light with clear textures to the ears and this was a major factor that kept people listening to the classical and neoclassical hymns. The music was composed of short melodies with clear cut pleasures. The rhymes and the structure of the music always kept attention to the balance, order and proportion as well as the importance of the structure. Sonata form development was also greatly adhered to. Examples in this context include: Mozart’s Sonata No. 7 in C, K. 309 and Mozart’s Concerto

Nr. 17 in G major.

Talking of music, music of the romantic period had the following features. The music emphasized on the powerful expression of emotions that not only involved love but also other types of emotions like death or hate. There is also rise of the virtuoso performer with larger orchestra, larger range of pitch as well as volume of the music. The music also entrenches rich harmonies as well as more use of chromaticism. Considering the music themes, the music gives interest in themes that relates to far off lands, nature, dreams and more so the supernatural or the mysterious. Examples of music of the romantic period include Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor, Op. 18.

Considering the social-cultural aspect, classicism culminated several years of western culture including politics and philosophy that were stated by Romans and Greeks that led to liberal western democracy. Socially, classicism considered men and women as socially equal with same right to life, liberty and to pursuit of happiness. Priority was given to the use of reason in solving social issues with universal ideas and principles put into consideration to create a common ground while still giving room for the individuals, religions and cultures.

Talking of social-cultural organization, Romanticism reacted to the aspect practiced in classicism in a rebellious manner. The culture of reason and universal became obsolete since the war and social injustices were on a rising edge and many societies were still oppressed. Therefore, romanticism replaced universalism with individualism (uniqueness of every culture) and reason with passion and struggle. This was now the new approach and solution to problems that occurred during classicism.

Political Analysis: Tartuffe

Letter of a Contemporary Performance

At the time I entered the theatre, all the seats were almost full. Audience from different political and social classes had already arrived and set for the play. Being a male middle class person working as a journalist, I had to find myself a seat in front in an area created for the general public to be able to focus on the event and at the same time gather some reports about the performance and other reactions. Of course the VIPs had their special arrangement set for them with a different price from the rest. In the theatre, present were audience from different social classes. I only managed to identify two classes being the high class and the general public. The high class individual had seats reserved for them in a separate compartment of the theatre from the general public. The mode of dressing could tell everything. As an audience, I went to have fun, laugh, enjoy the performance and learn some few lessons from the play. Before the event kicked off, the manager of the theatre welcomed all the audience with specific emphasis on the powerful artists and politicians who were present. This is the time I realized that even the monarch was present at the event.

As the performance kicked off, people could not tell exactly what the theme of the play was to be until some two performers came on stage to remind us that this was a play and not a real life situation. Normally, events that take place in a theatre represent real life situation and this was the expectation of most of the audience present. However, Moliere broke this convention to make the audiences believe that a theatre is merely an establishment and that whatever that was going on was a play and not a real life event.

The aspect of the performance that made a great impact on me and also to the audience was the theme of the performance. Focusing on the theme of the performance which was “this is a play and not real life”, the audiences were often reminded that this was a play and not a real life. This idea gathered support from other things including the presence of two men who were wearing masks and actor’s performance dressed in black dresses and capes. They acted a role of separating the play scenes by sometimes hiding performers and also acting as a door to separate the performance. Personally, I think there presence on stage was to give support to the idea that this was a play and not a real life event. The idea was also supported by various gestures and mimes which sounded exaggerated. What I did not like about the play was actually the subject which was related to the present society. Despite being in its originality, it sounded ordinary and did not make me remember it and think of it after the play. However, there was totally no boredom among the audience and I could tell this from the sounds, cheering and the facial expression from the audience. This was because of the tempo which was kept constant and took the attention of the audience at all times me included. Other things that kept the audience away from bored were the lighting up system during the performance which kept on changing and the background music whose speed was directed as the acting went on. The dressing mode of the actors was also another appealing feature of the day.

Generally, I enjoyed the performance, laughed a lot and from the facial expression, cheering and reaction of other spectators, I believe they also enjoyed the play. It was wonderful.

Psychological Analysis: Character “Subtext” or Motivation for Passion

Life is a dream

Life is a dream is a Spanish age play set during the mythical version of the Poland’s kingdom. The play reveals the story of Basilio who decides to send his son, Segismundo to prison at birth with a reason that the astrological studies he has been undertaking has given him a fear that this son might grow up and become rebellious or be a tyrant to his authority. Calderon gives a first hand consideration to two forces of free will and determinism which appears to contrast each other in this fable as the forces responsible and required to shape human character as well as destiny. Considering the subplot, we find Rosaura who seeks to look for Astolfo for dishonoring her after the marriage promise. The problems examined by Calderon are mostly related to vengeance and honor.

In this paper, I will narrow down to the psychology of one character in this play called Segismundo and his struggle for his passions. The issue I will be focusing on is his struggle to overturn his destiny and liberty. Segismundo being the son of the king of Poland, Basilio, lived a life of not even knowing his identity due to his father’s fear that he might turn his back on him following the astrological studies. At birth, he was imprisoned after his father’s charting with his horoscope which revealed to him that his son will grow up and be a treacherous son as well as a savage ruler. After some time, his father devised rules that eventually freed his son from prison and gave him the power of a king just for a day. But because of the brutality and the cruelness of his son, the father finally confirmed his fear and ordered him to be returned back to the prison.

However, after his liberation from the tower for the second time, he struggles a lot and overcomes his brutality as well as his earlier predestined identity. This is what we call struggle for passion. The culture of the Hispania at that particular time lied in the horoscopes revealing. But we see Segismundo struggling to overturn his destiny and his predestined identity. According to how he describes himself and also how other people describes him, Segismundo is actually a beast or simply force of nature. He is normally clothed with things like animal skins and he is fond of contrasting himself with fish and other animals like snakes, streams as well as volcanoes. Just before he is taken to court, Clotaldo comes in and fills his mind to become an image of an eagle. Considering the meaning of his name, it stands contrary to the predatory imagery and the happenings that are surrounding him and signifies his triumph for his unchangeable fate that is written in the stars. His name Segismundo which means victory and protector according to the Germans justifies his ending when Rosaura comes in his picture and awakens new perception in him. Through her, Segismundo gets to understand the meaning of honor. Rosaura completely parallels Segismundo’s actions and serves as his guide eventually succeeding in converting him. Therefore, Segismundo eventually succeeds in fulfilling his struggle for passion and liberty with conversion into a loyal person unlike the Hispania’s horoscope predetermined his destiny. Personally, I consider this as a fight and struggle for passion and overturn of nature.

Video Report – “Script Coverage”

Title of the film: The New World

Director: Terence Malick

Screenwriter: Terence Malick

Stars: Colin Farrell, Q’orianka Kilcher and Christopher Plummer

“Log Line:” a one or two line summary of the film

A film or a drama featuring an explorer called John Smith and the 17th century clash that existed between English settlers and the Native Americans

Plot Synopsis

The 17th century explorer John Smith and some other few men goes up the river to engage in trade with the Indian counterparts where he falls in love on mere befriending of the princess Pocahontas. At this time he was in love, Smith was to still perform his roles and responsibilities as the present of the Jamestown as well as face the challenges that befall him on which path to choose between staying with the fallen apart colony or decide to move up the river in the world to love Pocahontas. With time, the Indians come to realize that the English does not mean to leave and therefore, they decide to launch some attacks against them. However, some of the English men at the fort decides to capture Pocahontas and makes her their hostage to protect them from being attacked by the Indians. The king of Jamestown orders immediate eviction of smith from the town and at the same town a wealth tobacco planter comes in to settle in the town. While living there, Pocahontas adopts the English culture and again falls in love with this tobacco planter called John Rolfe. Finally she finds herself falling apart in making a decision on who between the two to dedicated to.


The major themes that were evident in the film were love and death. The theme of love becomes evident when Smith goes up the river to meet natives and carry out trade for their necessities like food. Instead, Smith survives alone out of the whole brigade and meets a beautiful lady called Pocahontas whom he falls in love with. But because the two are from different cultural backgrounds one being English and another being native American, their true love is hindered from being ideal. Although there are some scenes of intimacy between the two, sexuality is not emphasized but the acts of talking and staring at each other are given priority. Because the father of Pocahontas was the king of the Jamestown in which Smith had gone, he becomes so upset with his daughter for falling in love with an English man. Being capable (king) of doing anything to Smith, Pocahontas decides to risk her life and protect Smith from being killed. She does this until Smith is finally evicted out of the town safely. She risks her life to protect Smith and others from being attacked by the Asians by being their hostage.

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The issues that evolve in this film are about faith. Towards the end of the film, we find the long held traditions of the Indian never to be converted into Christianity are broken when Pocahontas decides to get baptized and be converted into a Christian. She is quoted praying to the lord to help her be humble. This is not normal as the Indian rejects Christianity and at no time will you find one of them being converted to a Christian.

The point of connection that is evident in the film between historical culture, time period and theatrical tradition comes towards the end when all the traditional ties are broken and various cultures merged including change of religion. Pocahontas finally marries Rolfe who adopted the English culture.

The audience that will find this movie interesting and appealing are the grown ups who are eighteen years and above. This is because they understand emotions, religion and love. Young people may find it not good due to some scenes of long kissing and others that suggest nudity.

Personally, the themes were good and the characters demonstrated the themes in a perfect manner. The direction and visual story telling was of high quality and appealing and the general story was flowing. However, the only thing that I dint like about this film is the way Christianity was portrayed. The English were portrayed as cruel and uncivilized people while the Indians portrayed as humble, civilized and welcoming people. To me, Christianity is about declaration that everyone is a sinner by nature and needs to repent.


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