The Romantic Heart an English Essay

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The Modern Period existed from the 1700s until present time. Many literary works came out of this period of time that began to be much different than the works before. The Enlightenment Period began the look at the individual. As literature and art moved into the modern period, the time of Romanticism began. Here, the emphasis on the individual is even greater, with an even greater focus on the individual’s emotions. This paper will take a look at three literary works that embody the transition from the Enlightenment to the Romantic period; Voltaire’s Candide, Swift’s The Lady’s Dressing Room, and Keat’s Ode to a Nightingale. This paper will analyze the role of love as an emotion in these Modern-Romantic pieces. Each author has built on the authors that came before them. The concept that ties all of these pieces together is the role of the woman.

College Essay Samples – The Romantic Heart

The authors of the Modern-Romantic period are struggling to express their individualism and emotions, and also struggling with how to relate their individual self to the woman. Voltaire falls back on the older ways of describing women: women are vulnerable and need men and use their sex powers to get what they want. Voltaire’s ideas are starting to change because he does address the hypocrisy in how women are viewed and how the world is set up for them to be and act. Swift uses humor and satire to show the reader how baffled he is at the side of women he does not know, and Keats plays on the old ways of defining women by reverting back to Greek mythology but still struggling with the imperfect woman.

Voltaire’s Candide contains many graphic accounts of the sexual exploitation of women. All of the women in the story have awful sexual things happen to them. Cunegonde, the old woman, and Paquette are all raped or are sex slaves, or both. Voltaire shows how vulnerable women are to these types of things but also holds them to a high standard of morals and sexual chastity. This shows the author’s connection to the emotion of love because he holds women to an unattainable standard. Voltaire’s nonchalant stance on the things that have happened to the women in his story show he is not yet connected to romantic love of a woman as an individual, but women are still an unattainable object with unrealistic standards that he cannot relate to (Damrosch & Pike, 2008).

Another author from the same time period is finding out that there is more to women than he thought. Jonathan Swift’s The Lady’s Dressing Room uses satire to describe Strephon’s relationship with himself as an individual and the woman he is courting. Here, Swift uses satire to showcase how men of the Modern-Romantic Era are grappling with their obsolete views of women and their desire to know women better but not liking what they find, what has to be one of the more memorable lines of the poem, “Oh, Cecilia, Cecilia, Cecilia shits!” Swift takes the sexuality out of the woman by showing the other side; a side that men never see. From Strephon’s response, it is clear that he never wanted to see that side of the woman in his life. From the woman who takes five hours to get ready, to what she leaves behind: soiled clothes, a huge mess, even evidence that she defecates, which does not fit the typical view of the goddess woman from that time period, Swift’s character struggles with his own individualism and faults in the faults he finds in Cecilia. How can he have romantic notions about a woman who is actually a real person? This satire shows that internal struggle with the modern woman and the non-modern man (Damrosch & Pike, 2008).

A poet who came around right after the prior two was John Keats. Keats had more respect for the old times, writing about nightingales and autumns as divinities. He tells the histories of these things with great care, but there are still reasons why he chose the subjects he did. Philomela was a woman from Greek legend who was raped by her own brother-in-law. The gods changed her into a nightingale after she told them her story. It is interesting that Keats chose this representation of a woman. Here again there is a woman who was subjected to sexual abuse, and there is a man who cares for her but does not understand her. He cannot simultaneously care for her and also understand all that she has been through. Though he wrote many years after Swift and Voltaire, he seems to have the same struggle with love and with understanding the woman. He knows that the woman he loves is not perfect, but he still cannot face all of her shortcomings, so he attributes her to a nightingale, a figure from Greek mythology that was also flawed but was accepted by the gods (Damrosch & Pike, 2008).

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