British Literature: Past and Present Essay

British Literature: Past and Present Essay

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     British literature continues to be read and analyzed because the themes, motifs and controversies that people struggled with in the past are still being debated today. The strongest themes that were presented in this course related to changing governments, the debate about equity between blacks and whites, men and women and rich and poor, and the concern about maintaining one’s cultural identity.
     The evolution of governments was a constant theme throughout the course, beginning with the lesson on the Introduction to Romanticism, where Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin debated the equity between rich and poor that was tearing France apart. The theme continued through the lesson about the Impact of Industry.
     Burke was too close to his political sources to acknowledge the atrocities that were happening to France’s poor. He argued in favor of keeping the current political system, fearing that corruption would fill the vacuum of power if the monarchy was dissolved. This fear is still prevalent today after the United States ousted Iraq’s Sadaam Hussain. In both situations, people are concerned with the vacuum of power, fearing that someone more corrupt than the current administration would fill the void.
     Wollstonecraft countered Burke’s debate and trumpeted the plight of the poor. She argued that to turn a deaf ear to the cruelty was a vote for tyranny.
          “The rich and the weak, a numerous train, will certainly applaud your                system, and loudly celebrate your pious reverence for authority and                establishments - they find it pleasanter to enjoy than to think; to justify                oppression than correct abuses (The Longman Anthology of British                     Literature, The Rights of Man, p. 82).”

     She added that, “They (the poor) ...

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.... David Damrosch, et al. Vol. 2. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2003. 1,060-1,068.

Joel, Billy. We Didn’t Start the Fire. Storm Front. 1989.

Dylan, Bob. The Times They Are A Changin’. The Times They Are A Changin’.1964. Performed live by Joel, Billy. Kohuept. 1987.

Equiano, Olaudah. The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano. London: Stationer's Hall, 1789. Rpt. in The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch, et al. Vol. 2. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2003. 160-169.

Prince, Mary, The History of Mary Prince, a West Indian Slave. London: F. Westley and A. H. Davis, 1831. Rpt. in The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch, et al. Vol. 2. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2003. 169-174.

Heaney, Seamus. The Singer’s House. Rpt. in The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch, et al. Vol. 2. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2003. 2,893.

Shaw, Bernard. Pygmalion. Rpt. in The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch, et al. Vol. 2. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2003. 2,087-2,143.

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