Summative Blog

The human and artistic concerns of both the Romantic and Victorian Ages are similar to our own concerns; the response to those concerns- given by poets, novelists, dramatists and artists- can help us live fuller, more meaningful and creative lives in our own times.

 

Concerns surrounding how society has become so “machine-like” and materialistic has not only been expressed in modern day society but since the Romantic and Victorian Ages. Many artists, poets and authors have been warning their audience of the results of these issues by expressing their ideas of the purpose and meaning of life. For the audience, they can gain a deeper understanding of why having meaningful and creative life ensures that an individual has lived their life as fulfilling as possible. Though Romantic and Victorian novels and works are based off differencing motions and ideals, they both look into the issues that are at hand within their societies such as materialism and ignorance.

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In the Romantic era, authors and artists drew their main focus onto their surrounding environments and how they have neglected their sense of nature and how individuals have become selfish. Poets such as William Wordsworth and William Blake delve into the ideals of nature and how we should stay connected with our heritage rather than become absorbed by society’s new morals and structure. Particularly, Wordsworth’s poem “Resolution and Independence” written in 1800, explores how society’s illusions and expectations society have had an impact on the way that an individual views the world from their own perspective. With the word choices of “fears” and “fancies” in the fifth stanza of the poem, Wordsworth intends to show the audience the distress that can be caused by an individual’s imagination as well as the joy. He continues to discuss the struggle of surviving in this environment.

“Far from the world I walk, and from all care; But there may come another day to me – Solitude, pain of heart, distress, and poverty”

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This poem also relates to the artwork John Seymour Lucas’ “The Gordon Riots 1780” as Lucas portrays the issues of the 19th century, depicting the fight for peace and a meaningful life style for all social classes. This shows that the issues that the authors were expressing were the same as the artists as they both want their audiences to live more meaningful and creative lives regardless of the time period.

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With the despair of the writers of the 19th century, Charles Dicken’s Hard Times and George Eliot’s Silas Marner both focus the social structure of society and how materialism is controlling their ideologies. Dicken’s main protagonist Sissy comes from an outcast sub-group within her society, the gyspies and is portrayed as different throughout the whole novel; but she has the ability to grow and develop her own spiritual wisdom unlike those who have confronted to society. The juxtaposition between Sissy and Gradgrind emphasises the concerns that Dickens does have for the obsession of materialism. Dickens does express his concerns for society through the    use of his character as he portrays his ideas of the purpose and meaning of life; this allowing the audience to gain an understanding of what Dickens wanted to convey. Similarly, Eliot expresses the same issues through the comparison of characters such as Godfrey, Silas Marner and Eppie as they had all under gone different upbringings but how their outlook of life was completely different to one another. Eliot and Dickens both use the symbolic image of a child in their works to show the innocence of the human essence before it becomes consumed by the beliefs and morals of their society.

Therefore, authors and artists from the 19th century wish to express their concerns for humanity through their works and hope that their intended audience can live more meaningful and creative lives and not be consumed by materialistic ideals.

Images from:

http://stuartreading.deviantart.com/art/daisy-meadow-171580854

https://www.emaze.com/@AWQZOQWR/Industrial-Revolution

https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/920/

 

Blog 8, Week 10

What can you find out about Tolstoy’s belief in the value of the working class?

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Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy’s belief of the working class is that they have more of a realistic and wholesome life when compared to the upper class. In his short story Master and Man, he delves into the psychology of both the upper class and the working lower class. Similar to Charles Dicken’s novel Hard Times, where it is portrayed that Sissy has something over the Gradgrind family as she does not act for the benefit of herself but for others. Showing that Sissy is the living example of the essence of human nature, this is comparable to Tolstoy’s Master and Man as Nikita is portrayed in a similar way that he can live his life to the fullest, unlike Vasili until the end of the story. As Vasili can understand the purpose of human existence is to act and aid others unlike acting for one’s own desires and wishes. This meaning that Tolstoy uses the idea and imagery of the working class to express that acting for the integrity of others is fundamental to the human essence rather than acting and benefiting one’s self.

One theme that was also portrayed in Tolstoy short story, the death of Ivan Ilyich, explores the materialism and self-centeredness of the upper class. Through the juxtaposition between Praskovya being portrayed as self-absorbed and high demanding while Ivan is portrayed as a mundane person but being decent. This again is similar to Dickens’ Hard Times as Mrs Gradgrind is presented as a high demanding individual that acts purely for her own needs and wants, unlike Sissy who attempts to aid Mrs Gradgrind and Louisa.

Both Tolstoy and Dickens write about the working class having a type of virtue that the upper class is unable to require. With this, both authors write from different contexts and issues that were happening during the 19th century but write about the importance of the human essence and how society has become greedy and materialistic.

 

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_Tolstoy

Blog 7, Week 9

Write a letter to any one of the following four characters telling them what you think of their choices in chapter 19 of the novel: Godfrey, Silas, Nancy and Eppie.

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To my dearest Nancy,

I wish to discuss with you a matter that has risen. The issue of whom little Eppie’s father is or should be has come about in the town. I heard that you wished for this girl to be your own and that you and your husband reached out to Silas Marner. Why would you want this child, of all the children in the world, why Silas’ treasure?

I understand that you feel the need do have a motherly duty for a child but what I wish to understand is your behaviour in this situation. I’ve heard through the streets that the opium addict was once engaged or married to your Godfrey! And as a result, Eppie came into this world. I understand that you wish to stay and be loyal by your husband’s side but I think that is dreadful. You understand that your husband left that child alone and in the dark but now that she is almost a woman; he seeks to have this child returned to him? He has missed his chance of fatherhood, as he has neglected his duty as a father long ago yet you stay by his side when he wants to have Eppie returned to him after she is grown. Silas, even though he is from a working background, has been the father to this girl and raised to be his own. Unlike Godfrey who believes he can leave the child with a man to raise like his own and later snatch it away from a loving father; to turn him into a despondent man.

From what the town is saying, Eppie rejected your proposal of being welcomed into the Cass family. The word is that Godfrey stormed away from Silas and Eppie’s home, I hope you did not act in such a foolish way. What else was he to expect, that the girl would move into a house full of strangers? To lose the only person who loved her? Eppie’s duty, like yours, is to stay by the most important man in her life as we all know that Silas is not in the best condition. That she would desert Silas after everything, he has done. Abandon her father for a false loving one?

I hope you have listened to what I have stated today; I say this out of the utmost respect that I have for you. I do wish the best for you in the future.

Kind Regards,

Riley

 

Image from: http://www.keywordsuggests.com/OAovf9x7G979pPTpRT7CPm13gateHNkNa2PxyHBAi4Ye*qCSxtCXBdjrIJ6v3G%7C4GxmPa3RT0RPr1Eutqf*LBw/

Blog 6, Week 8

Take one stanza from the Scholar Gypsy and carefully explicate its meaning saying how you think the language and form (stanza shape) contribute to the stanza’s power and effect.

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The Scholar Gypsy written by Matthew Arnold explores the ideas of the ways of fulfilling life and how an individual show potentially live within a materialistic world. Arnold writes during the industrial revolution, meaning that his work is warning for his intended audience as he does not want his society to lose the essence of nature and reality. In particular, stanza nineteen it the most important part of the poem as it delves into the consequences of materialistic ideals and how their modern society is losing touch with the way of life.

The stanza itself, the turning point of the poem as the comparison between the gypsy and the persona highlights that the Scholar Gypsy is free from modernism and the effects of the industrial revolution. Unlike the persona whose tone is almost envious of the Scholar Gypsy as he seems to understand that he is trapped within this new structure and purpose of society. With the line:

“O life unlike to ours!”

It emphases the divide between the utilitarian society compared to rural, more traditional types of societies. With this line, it also changes the feel and concept of the poem. Moving it away from the Scholar Gypsy towards the downfall of a materialistic society that functions off the greed of wealth. The line divides the poem and conveys the difference between the two individuals in this poem.

 

Blog 5, Week 7

Write a paragraph explaining why you think it is worthwhile exploring art works even though you are a student of literature.
I believe that art and literature go hand in hand as both are creative outlets for an individual. Regardless of the content or context of a person’s work, I believe it is fundamental for a literature student to understand the real meanings of artworks like how they delve deeper into an author’s work or a character’s persona. In relation to works we have studied this semester, such as Hard Times by Charles Dickens and Emma by Jane Austen; as a student when you go to galleries and observe artworks that were created during both the Romanticism and the Victorianism; It does help in understanding both the context of both the artworks and the novels.

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In particular, one of the works that I found helped me understand the background of the Romanticism was John Seymour Lucas’ “The Gordon Riots 1780” painted in 1879; it depicts the events that some of the poets we have studied this semester had to undergo to seek peace. Even though, the context of the riots was initially a protest about religion; it did turn into a divide between upper class and the lower class. As you can see through the facial expression of both the soldiers and the rebels, they have looks of determination and passion as both are fighting for their causes and beliefs. With knowing a general understanding of what occurred; as a student, I was able to gain a deeper level of knowledge of what occurred and what thoughts and ideals there were through both studying this artwork and thought the works by poet William Wordsworth and other Romantics. Though this work was created a hundred years after this took place, it does give as a viewer some indication of what was the atmosphere in London during that time.

Therefore, as a literature student, I believe it is extremely important to study all creative arts that do focus on the context of what you are studying as it allows you to gain a deeper understanding of particular thoughts and views of what was occurring during the context of what period you are studying. Because both literature and art are outlets for creative minds and delve deeper into the beliefs and ideals during certain periods of time.

 

Image from : https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/920/

 

Blog 4, Week 6

Write a letter to Mr Gradgrind telling him what you think about the way he treated his own daughter, particularly with reference to the marriage arrangements he has created.

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Dear Mr Gradgrind,

I have become to realise that your teaching methods and ideals for your daughter, Louisa, are extremely inappropriate. Your obsession with work has made your daughter mechanical and unable to develop emotions. I’m not saying that your daughter is unhuman, but you have driven out the essence of her heart and identity.

The main reason why I’m writing to you currently is due to the fact that you have played match maker and are forcing her into this commitment of marriage with Mr Bounderby. I am aware of the fact that you gave her a “choice”, but her decision was based on your own happiness and ego. You want her to be married to a man that has become unnatural and lost the ability to even be sympathetic is any matter. As I heard from Louisa herself, that you were overjoyed by this news and that she had to keep herself grounded in order to follow your teaching. Are you not a hypocrite to your teachings in this situation? Are you not going against your own morals and beliefs?

Are you being your perfect model in this situation? The answer to this is no. You being the lawgiver are allowed to slide by while if another acted in this manner, you would be disgusted. I how I am with you. You want Cecilia to conform to your ideals while you fail to do so yourself. If you wish to continue your inhuman teachings, I believe it is your own undoing. And ultimately you will ruin the life of your own daughter by forcing her into this lifestyle with Mr Bounderby.

If I were you Mr Gradgrid, I would consider the things that are close to your heart and attempt to place yourself in the position that you have created for your daughter. I can see the outcome of this situation, and it does not end in a happy forever after.

Kind Regards,

Riley

Image from: https://www.utilitarianism.com/thomas-gradgrind.html

Blog 3, Week 5

Write a brief critical appraisal of what you think Dickens’s main complaints are about Coketown- from the passage we explored in tutorials today.

One of the most enjoyable works that we have studied so far in the 19th Century Literature course has been Charles Dickens’s Hard Times. The section in our tutorials that we focused on was the introduction into Dicken’s perspective of Coketown, the heavily populated civilisation that had been ruined by pollution. I think Dickens almost perfectly tackles the main issues of the Industrial Revolution and how materialism and the obsession of money and urbanisation have been the downfall of humanity.

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As Dickens describes Coketown, through the rapid and elongated sentences, it makes the audience feels like there are gasping for breath. Dickens did this to emphases the fact that the people within Coketown are trapped within their society’s beliefs and work ethic.With this Dickens uses the imagery of highly respected animals such as Lions and Elephants that have been forced into captivity, to highlight the fall from grace that humanity has undergone. I believe Dickens was correct in challenging his audience in saying that the Industrial Revolution was a backwards step for society as he saw it more as a negative due to the loss of cleanliness and how the rural side of England was being destroyed.

” A blur of soot and smoke, now confusedly tending this way, now that way, now aspiring to the vault of Heaven, now murkily creeping along the earth, as the wind rose and fell, or changed its quarter: a dense formless jumble, with sheets of cross light in it, that showed nothing but masses of darkness” (Dickens)

One thing, I found most interesting was the use of the imagery of the snake being the smog created from the machinery. It is quite ironic as usually an image of a snake is seen as a sign of health and good fortune while Dickens uses it as the opposite. What I’m unsure of is whether or not Dickens did this to be ironic and laugh at the mess that Coketown created or was it just the best way to create an image of the smog.

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Another part of the passage I found important in regards to Dickens’s opinion was the use of religious elements. He ends the chapter with the use of “Glory Be”. I felt that Dickens used this as cruel irony meaning that society had become so regimented and controlled that its own central being was work ethic.

“The M’Choakumchild school was all fact, and the school of design was all fact, and the relations between master and man were all fact, and everything was fact between the lying-in hospital and the cemetery, and what you couldn’t state in figures, or show to be purchaseable in the cheapest market and saleable in the dearest, was not, and never should be, world without end, Amen” (Dickens)

This was the most important part of the passage that we look at in class for me as I agreed with Dickens and the how society is becoming purely focused on work and how people focus more so on being able to have money rather than live a happy lifestyle with little.

Images from:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/what-is-sensational-by-charles-dickens-a-spectacular-polemic-from-the-great-man-of-letters-10386310.html

http://cutesnakes.tumblr.com