Romantism And Neoclassicism


Throughout history, the arts and literature have been a form of rationalization
of the minds and thoughts of an artist or writer. The progression or regression
of knowledge over a period of time can be chronicled or mapped with the use of
the literature and arts of these artists. More specifically, the major shift in
thinking from 18th-century Neoclassicism to 19th-century Romanticism can be seen
in the works of Alexander Pope and William Wordsworth. A deliberation on the
works of these two authors show the differences, if not complete opposites
between the Neoclassic and Romantic concepts. The purpose of a poem can vary
from poet to poet, but for the Neoclassic poet the main purpose was to educate
the reader. During this time, Newton and other famous intellects were springing
forth new ideas. Ideas such as explanations being formed in terms of moving
particles. Pope shares this idea with the reader in "An Essay on Man"
(stanza2?): "A thousand movements scarce one purpose gain". Pope’s manner
of writing is very straightforward. He makes firm statements instead of
questionable presumptions and he does this as if he is teaching something with a
purpose. This Neoclassic quality of teaching is seen in portions of his poem
such as, "His knowledge measured to his state and place, his time a moment,
and a point his space." (lines71-73) These uses of ideas and teaching in the
poem make the poem less pleasurable for the reader to read as it allows no room
for imagination and personal reflection. This is likely intentionally done by

Pope as it was common in his time to write with a direct purpose rather than to
please the reader. The purpose in writing for the Romantic poet is quite
different from that of the Neoclassic poet. The Romantic poet wrote to please
the reader rather than to educate. This can be seen in Wordsworth’s poem

"Ode: Intimations of Immortatlity from Recollections of Early Childhood.",
especially in his use of language throughout the poem. Language such as, "The

Moon doth with delight" (line12) and "Then sing, ye Birds, sing, sing a
joyous song!" (Line168) It is this extensive use of vivid language that force
the reader to use their imagination and visualize the events or images in the
poem. They can then relate to these events or images and in turn become an
active participant in reading the poem.