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A view on romanticism background

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  • A view on romanticism background

    Romanticism came as a revolt against the political frustrations of the past. These frustrations were provoked by three major revolutions: the Industrial Revolution, the French Revolution, and the American Revolution. These revolutions brought about radical upheavals in society. In what follows I am going to discuss the three revolutions and their impact upon society.


    The Industrial Revolution was an economical change that brought social change. In this period, people witnessed a shift from ruralism to urbanism. Many factories were built in the city. People were encouraged to move to the city, being a prosperous place where they will be better-off; and also where they can have another good life different from the one they used to live. As a result, hundreds of countryside inhabitants poured to cities. However, these promises were not fulfilled. They faced bad working conditions with small wages. They did not find where to live; they started building slums around the city. Only those who worked hard could survive. In the light of the Industrial Revolution, a new working class appeared, and people were divided into two parts the “haves” and the “have not”. Women and children started working with almost starvation wages. People, in this period, became dehumanized and manipulated like a machine. They also lost faith in God, for the Industrial Revolution has too much rationalized life, neglecting the spiritual side. Having too much reasonable thinking affected the religious side in human being. The Industrial Revolution was meant to bring material success, civilize people, and elevate living standards, but it turned out to be a failure to fulfill these promises. As a result, people suffered more and longed for their prior state.


    “We are born with certain rights that among these rights are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness”, these were the very principles which the American Revolution achieved, and which turned out to be just fake ones. People did not act in conformity with these principles, for they turned a blind eye on slavery. They thought that by abolishing slavery, the whole economy, especially the southern one, will crumble. They failed to abide by the rules that they had legislated for themselves: to live in a consensus, to enjoy freedom, and to live happily. And as a result, the war between the sought and the north broke.



    Also, the ideals and dreams of the French Revolution, which was raised against the injustices of the monarchy of Louis 14th, soon faded away when Napoleon Bonaparte – the child of the revolution—became a dictator. Man was the center of the revolution, and it was the very first time we talked about Human Rights. William Hazlet said, “The French Revolution seemed the dawn of a new era, a new impulse had been given to men’s minds.” Most of the Romantics thought of the French Revolution as a symbol of a great future; however, it ended up by being a failure to achieve its basic tenets. As a result, people suffered more. Working hours rose. Workers did not have the right to form unions. Damaging or destroying a machine led to a death sentence. Wordsworth said, “[they] became oppressors in their turn, Frenchmen had changed a war of self-defense for one of the conquest, losing sight of all which they had struggled for.”



    All the factors aforementioned heralded Romanticism which had a massive impact upon the social fabric. Man thought that by the advance of the Industrial Revolution a new era of prosperity will come into existence, but its results were far worse than what was anticipated, and so were the results of the French and the American Revolutions. Everything ended up by being a disappointment that pushed some people, who could not stand living such a life any longer, to run away and detach themselves from that unbearable life. And by doing so, they could look at the society from a high peak to criticize and spot out its illnesses; thus, these people were called the Romantics.
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