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Age of Sensibility &The Romantic Period

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Stephanie Macfarlane

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Age of Sensibility &The Romantic Period

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
Age of Sensibility a.k.a Age of Johnson, was part of the transition into the Romantic period as writers, poets and artists started writing about emotional and intellectual concepts of sentiment in reaction to the Augustan Age. Sensibility became a fashion amongst poets and authors and instead of stories being concentrated on action and plot, the writers were looking at evoking an emotional reaction to the character’s distress and tenderness, from the readers.
Age of Sensibility (1750-90)
Influential Writers
Other influential writers from this time were Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1268) who wrote “The Vicar of Wakefield” (novel) , “The Deserted Village” (poem), “Good natur’d man” and “She stoops to conquer” (plays) which in fact continued the transition into the Romantic period. Another was Richard Brinksy Sheridan (1751-1816) who wrote the play “The Rivals” and “The School for Scandal” and “The critic” which both enhanced the age of “sensibility”.
Transitioning to Romanticism
Oliver Goldsmith’s “She Stoops to Conquer” was a gateway into the romantic period due to the plot of a young woman, Kate Hardcastle’s attempts to win over a young rich but socially inept Charles Marlow by acting as a barmaid to get his attention. The character-types of the play were Shakespearean and there was an obvious emphasis of deception and disguise which draw attention to the theatrics of the show. The play also contained very certain vivid moments of psychological realisation.


The other well known name for this period of time was the age of “Johnson” due to the poet/essayist/critic/biographer/editor/lexicographer, Samuel Johnson. Most influential on English Literature due to his writing of the first edition of the dictionary, which was used for 150 years before Oxford published the first edition of the Oxford dictionaries we use today. He was also known for “inventing English Literature” through his edition of Shakespeare and particularly “Lives of Poets”.
1750-1830
Age of Sensibility &The Romantic Period
The Romantic Period
The Romantic period of literature is said to have roots in both the Gothic age and the age of Sensibility, which is proven in works as such as “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, due to the “beautiful creature” of Frankenstein being shunned and rejected by society and having to isolate himself for being “gross”. The story also has similarities to modern day society as looks have a huge influence on peoples perception of others and if people aren’t the right size, don’t have the right hair colour etc, they are ‘unpopular’. The romantic side of the story is the sympathy the reader has for the misunderstood “monster”. ‘Graveyard poets’ in the 1740’s had gloomy meditation’s of death but found the beauty in skulls and death.
Influential Historical Events
The Romantic period had many historical events that influenced the writing, but more specifically the major social change due to the Agricultural Revolution and The Industrial Revolution. These revolutions caused depopulation of the country side and developed overcrowded industrial cities due to farmers and such being run off their own land by taxes, so instead went to factories in the city to get jobs working machines etc. This change in society changed poet’s subject of choice as many poets started seeing the beauty in the landscape, because it was so empty.
The French Revolution also had massive influence over the Romantic period due to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political and philosophical novel, “The Social Contract” which emphasised the need for people to play responsible parts in civil society if they need assured liberty. This novel influenced French Revolutionaries like Robespierre and was blamed for the excess of terror in France, as it was going through major changes in power as democracy and nationalism took over from monarchies and churches.
French Revolution
Major influences in the romantic period were William Woodsworth, William Blake and Robert Burns, as well as Jane Austen, due to their works that presented different views on objects and relationships, with people and with the world. Robert Burns had written songs like “A red, red rose” and “Auld Lang Syne” that explored platonic and loving relationships. Whereas, Blake and Woodsworth wrote many poems about nature and innocence, both showing romance in everyday life for example “ She was a Phantom of Delight” Wordsworth, exploring the beauty of a dark and mysterious woman. An example of Romanticism from Blake is “The Garden of Love”, which explored his love of life rather than an object or person. Austen played a relatively big part of the transition into 19th century realism and highlights the dependence of women on marriage to secure status and economical security, rather than relationships being all around love.
Influential Writers
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