Jefferson and Blake Writers of the Enlightenment and the Romantic Era

Jefferson and Blake Writers of the Enlightenment and the Romantic Era

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Jefferson and Blake Writers of the Enlightenment and the Romantic Era

The Enlightenment and the Romantic Era are two periods that differed greatly. Out of these contrasting eras came different literary styles and purposes. Thomas Jefferson and William Blake are two primary examples of diverse authors from equally diverse eras. Although the Romantic Era grew alongside the Enlightenment, it placed value on emotion or imagination over reason, where as the Enlightenment focused on reason and logical thinking. Unlike the Enlightenment, Romanticism allowed people to get away from the constricted, rational views of life and concentrate on an emotional and sentimental side of humanity. This not only influenced political doctrines and ideology, but was also a sharp contrast from the Enlightenment’s embracing of rationality before emotion. Jefferson and Blake both representing their own era through different writing styles that characterized the era in which their writings belong.

Along with Enlightenment came European struggle with the monarchy. This led to ideas of a self-governed people and, along with the separation of individuals from religion and government, would inevitably influence Thomas Jefferson’s writing of The Declaration of Independence. The beliefs in equality, justice, and morals were outstanding ideas from the Enlightenment that moved Jefferson to write in the instructive manner in which his purpose was to lead a group of people to believe in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The Enlightenment influenced Jefferson’s writings and was responsible for his instructive writing style.

William Blake’s writing style was a product of the Romantic Era in which people were more concerned with emotions than reason. This era embodied society’s desire to
give in to its passions and express its feelings. In Blake’s “The Lamb,” he questioned “who made thee {lamb}” and then answered “little lamb God bless thee.” Blake personified the little lamb with “clothing of delight” and a “tender voice.” The comparison of the lamb and its creator through imagery and personification characterizes the Romantic Era as a whole.

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The Enlightenment and Romantic Eras were composed of contrasting ideals as were the writings of different authors from the two periods. The rational views of the Enlightenment were instilled in Thomas Jefferson and influenced his writing of The Declaration of Independence. William Blake, however, was a romantic whose primary concern was to vividly express emotions as in his poem “The Lamb.”

Bibliography:

The Norton Anthology, 7th ed.

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