Literary evolution: Differentiating Romanticism and Modernist Literature

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The idea of what literatures function is in shaping society saw a huge change throughout the years, each one of these periods can easily be separated by what literature was used for in each specific era and the ideas that are represented in the literature of these years. The two periods I would like to analyze are romanticism and modernism, namely for the dramatic change in both the form and the use of literature, along with its value to society. Between the romantic and modernist era of literature, writing went from a complex expression of ideals and evocation of emotion to a much less explicit and much more of a social commentary meant to convey unique and new ideas and bring a much different form of realization to the reader. A simple introduction to this idea can be observed through analyze the purpose of “lyrical ballads” by William Wordsworth. Wordsworth states the “purpose (of the writings) will be found principally to be: … to illustrate the manner in which our feelings and ideas are associated in a state of excitement… (and) to follow the fluxes and refluxes of the mind when agitated by the great and simple affections of our nature”(Wordsworth, Preface to Lyrical Ballads). For those studying the Romantic period of literature this should seem awfully familiar. The key ideals found in Romantic literature are the sublime, emotion, nature, and the ability to humble yourself to the simple beauty of what you already have. This was in direct response to the industrial revolution, as literature gave us a stark contrast between the realities of the 1800s. Literature at the time was an advocate for the simple beauty and power of what surrounds us every day, and for appreciation of the simple things in life, which w... ... middle of paper ... ... distant society has become form that of romanticism. While Eliot may not have intended to critique specifically the change since the romantic era, romanticism and modernism seem to be polar opposites when it comes to literary ideas and the intent of the authors. In conclusion, the change in language, imagery, and content of romantic and modern poetry has changed both the ideas of literature and the intended impact this literature is meant to have on society. Works Cited Damrosch, David. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. New York: Longman, 2010. Print. Eliot, T.S. "1. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. T.S. Eliot. 1920. Prufrock and Other Observations." Bartleby Online Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2013. Wordsworth, William. "Wordsworth, William. 1888. Complete Poetical Works." Bartleby Online Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013.

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