19th Century Romanticism in Wordsworth and Delacroix Essay

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¶ … 19th Century

Romanticism in Wordsworth and Delacroix

The Romantic period and movement covers a wide range of themes, styles and perceptions in art and literature. However, while there are divergent themes and approaches, there are also many areas of similarity. The Romantic era can best be understood through a clear grasp of the underlying ethos and the 'mood' of this genre in art. The ethos of romanticism, whether in literature or painting, conforms in general terms to certain central concerns. Among these central themes that emerge in Romanticism are the importance of the imagination; a heroic and defiant attitude to life, the belief in wider possibilities and experiences and a reaction to the society of the time.

With regard to the last point, many Romantic artists were deeply concerned with the perceived disparity between the beauty and order of nature and the often ugly degradation of the emerging industrial cites and environment in Europe in the 19th Century. Wordsworth is often considered a 'nature poet'; however, the theme of nature in his works should be seen in terms of a reaction to the poverty of life and imagination that he saw in the industrialized cities. Central to all the Romantics is a sense of reality that is greater and more vivid than the ordinary everyday reality. It is this desire for an altered and more idealistic reality that can be seen in many Romantic painters. Delacroix for example paints in vivid and passionate tones and colors and deals with dramatic and larger-than-life subjects, such as great battles and massacres.

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As stated, one of the central themes found in the Romantic poets and artists is the duality between nature, as an ideal state, and ordinary reality. In Wordsworth's poem "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey," nature becomes the symbol for the reality of knowledge and life that has been lost. Nature is described in vivid and intense terms and in contradistinction to the mundanity of modern civilization. This juxtaposition can be clearly seen in the following lines from the poem

These beauteous forms,

Essay on 19th Century Romanticism in Wordsworth and Delacroix Assignment

Through a long absence, have not been to me

As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:

But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din

Of towns and cities, I have owed to them in hours of weariness, sensations sweet,

Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;

And passing even into my purer mind,

With tranquil restoration: -- feelings too

Of unremembered pleasure:

Tintern Abbey": lines 23-31)

These lines refer to the longing for nature and the intensity of feeling that the poet associated with those "beauteous forms." This feeling for nature is intensified by reference to its opposite - "this unintelligible world." The ordinary world of mundane existence is clearly seen to be inferior to the intensity of life that the poet finds in nature. The poet also refers to the knowledge and insight that nature provides in the lines:

While with an eye made quiet by the power

Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,

We see into the life of things.

Tintern Abbey": lines 47-49)

Therefore nature is combined with imagination to provide the poet with a rich and intense experience of the meaning of life and reality that transcends ordinary conditions the "human predicament."

While the subject matter of Delacriox's painting Massacre at Chios (1824) is very different it also exhibits the intensity and passion for something larger and greater than the ordinary and mundane world. When comparing Wordsworth's poem to this painting a central factor that should be taken into account is that these are two different mediums. While Wordsworth uses words and sounds, the painting by Delacroix makes use of color, form and composition to convey his vision.

Source: (www.humanitiesweb.org/human.php?s=g&p=c&a=p&ID=93)

The subject matter of the work by Delacroix is very different to that explored by Wordsworth in "Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey." Nevertheless, this work of art can be understood a being Romantic or fitting into the romance genre is we take into… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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