The Age of Reason in England

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Arts & Humanities, Performing Arts, Comedy
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The Age of Reason


The Age of Reason in Europe 

General intellectual and literary movement: Enlightenment –

Enlightenment: characterized by Rationalism 

Ideals: – –

Rationalism: a philosophy the emphasized the role of reason rather than sensory experience or faith in answering basic questions of human existence

Intellectual Freedom Freedom from prejudice and superstition in religion and politics

As in all Ages: Behavior often did not match ideals

The Age of Reason in England 

English version of Rationalism: experience & reason should be given equal place when examining the human condition – –

This made the English less “Rational” than the French and other continental versions Many of the most important writers of this period were opposed to the rationalist ideas of social progress and human perfectibility

The Age of Reason=The Neoclassical Age 

 

Many of the authors based their prose and poetry on classical models Classical here refers to Ancient Greece and Rome Classical writers are people like Homer, who wrote the Iliad and the Odyssey, or Ovid wrote the Annelid.

An Age where people were concerned with:    

Manners and morals Understanding themselves Understanding the immediate world Understanding their relationship with others.

And the Age was influenced by: –

John Locke’s Essay Concerning

And the Age was influenced by: 

John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), which argued that “our business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct.”

The Age was also stimulated by great Scientists 

Sir Isaac Newton: –

Principa (1687) first set forth the laws of gravitation

It was a period that advocated the use of scientific method to test old theories and to develop new knowledge.

The Early Years, 1660-1700 

The Restoration of the Monarchy with: King Charles II

The Restoration brought many changes to England. 

The Anglican Church was once again the established church Charles II reopened theatres, which that puritans had closed, and even sponsored a troop of actors

1662: Charles II chartered the Royal Society. –

This made scientific activities and investigations official The Society required the use of the scientific method in all of its investigations Required that reports be written in clear, simple prose.

London had been receiving a shift in population from the country to town. It became a thriving city, yet it suffered two major disasters in rapid succession.

Plague – –

1665: sickness ran rapid through the city 70,000 of London’s inhabitants were killed

Fire – – –

1666: June When the plague abated, fire broke out It took 5 days to extinguish It left 2/3 of the population homeless

Coffee Houses 1652: The first Coffee House Opened in London - Here the middle and upper-class rubbed shoulders with writers and thinkers - It provided a place where men could meet, talk, drink coffee, and sometimes conduct business By the end of the century several thousand coffee houses were in existence 

Changes in Literature Old    

Love Sonnets Flowery and ornate writing styles Boy actors portrayed female characters Major plays were Heroic Tragedies

New 

Satirical verses aimed at correcting people’s behavior in society The periodical essay was intended to be short and for the middle class Actresses played female roles The Restoration plays were licentious and focused on multiple plots concerning infidelity and acting in ways that were unsuitable according to one’s station in life

The Middle Years: 1700-1744 

Queen Anne: 1702-1714 –

George I of Hanover, Germany: 1714-1727 – – – –

Died without an heir Great-Grandson of James I Had Stuart Blood Was acceptable to Parliament Was Protestant Spoke German and spent most of his time in Germany

George II: 1727-1760

Rise in the Power of the Prime Minister 

Under the first two Georges, the country was in effect ruled by the ministry.

England’s Two Political Parties 

Whigs: – –

Favored reforms and progress Preferred a powerful parliament over a powerful monarchy

Tories: – –

Were opposed to change Favored Royal power and the established Church of England.

The Whigs 

 

They wielded the most power during the middle years They favored the new mercantile middle class living in London They fostered trade and contributed to the growth of the cites and international commerce

Rise of the Middle Class 

The middle class had begun to merge with landed gentry through: – – –

Marriage Concerns for wealth and property Movement into a position of social dominance

Growth of the Working Class 

Jobs opening in: – –

Construction Mining Factories 

All these jobs were spurred with the invention of powerdriven machinery This would bring about the Industrial Revolution

Inequality in the Distribution of Wealth 

In London especially, the inequality in the distribution of wealth was appalling. –

In the streets the silks and brocades a powdered wigs, the gilded coaches and sedan chairs of the rich moved against a background of rags, filth, stench, and crime. The rich went to plays and Italian operas while thousands lived in poverty

Split Portraits 

Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough tuned out elegant portraits of prosperous ladies and gentlemen

Split Portraits 

William Hogarth savagely satirized the wealthy and protested against the lot of the poor in paintings and graphic works such as A Rake’s Progress.

Women’s Rights 

 

Enlightenment had little effect on women’s rights Women were not usually educated Daniel Defoe was ahead of his time when he suggested a method of improving the education of women

The Middle Class’s Influence on Literature 

New wealth afforded them the luxury of reading for pleasure and they bought new books The wanted to read about people like themselves, so realistic novels became popular Literary Periodicals were aimed at coffee house audiences and were written to entertain and improve morals and manners

Moralist Reactions 

In Theatre, a new type of moral comedy came to be known as Sentimental Comedy and helped to make the theatre respectable again. Jonathan Swift: the greatest moralist of them all – –

Satirical writer who exposed and ridiculed individual and social evils of his day. Gulliver’s Travels targeted governmental and personal hypocrisy and vice.

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