Common Issues in Romanticism

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The key figures in Romanticism addressed many of the same issues. Such connectivity is marked in William Blake’s poems “Infant Sorrow” and “On Another’s Sorrow”, and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley, like Blake, argues for continual development of innocence to experience, and through the character of Victor Frankenstein’s creation, Mary Shelley suggests the equilibrium of innocence and experience offers insight into the human condition. The shift is distinguished by what Blake states in plate 3, stanza 2 of “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”: “Without contraries is no progression” (112). Any event, idea, or emotion that is contrary to the innocent human conscience is a progression to experience. In Frankenstein, the balance and shift of innocence and experience is evidenced by the creature’s observance of the De Lacey’s, the misfortune that befalls him in his wandering, and finally, the progression of experience reaches maturation through murder. A careful analysis of the creature’s initial human interaction shows a steady shift from innocence as the creature experiences the world around him. Frankenstein’s creation is simple and child-like in conscience yet aged and abhorred in appearance. Although a paradox, the creature is akin to an adult child: innocent and naïve, but forced to experience the world. Blake recognizes this concept in his poem “Infant Sorrow” in which he states, “Into the dangerous world I leapt: / Helpless, naked, piping loud, / Like a fiend hid in a cloud” (ll. 2-4). One rarely thinks of a newborn baby as a “fiend”. It seems more believable to observe the grotesque form of the creature as a fiend. However, both the infant and Frankenstein’s creation entered the world with veiled and “clouded” eyes, unable ... ... middle of paper ... ... for his actions, likewise, humans continue to, at the least, coexist with their fellow man, abiding by laws and regulations. It is hopeful then that in the world today, the balance of innocence and experience is not entirely overturned. Works Cited Blake, William. “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. Eighth Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. (111-120). Blake, William. “Infant Sorrow”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Romantic Period. Eighth Edition. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006. (95). Blake, William. “On Another’s Sorrow”. Classical Poetry: Songs of Innocence. Passions in Poetry Foundation: 11 Nov. 2008. . Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Second Edition. Boston/New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2000.
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