Question 4- Romanticism Critics

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Question 4- Romanticism Critics


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Question 4- Romanticism Critics

Romanticism was a period that can be termed to be characterized by the rejection of order, harmony, rationality, balance, and calm. Romanticism emphasized in the subjective, spontaneous, visionary, individual, irrational, emotional, subjective as well as the intuitive. The characteristic attitude of romanticism therefore includes; deepened appreciation of nature’s beauty, emphasis on the emotions over reasons as well as the senses over intellect, individualism and human personality and the heightened preoccupation of the genius, hero as well as his inner struggles. Some of the artistic works during the period of romanticism are purely a critic of the romantic attitudes, and therefore aid in the deep understanding of the concept of romanticism in other works. Some of the works that depict a close relationship with romanticism include Austen’s work known as ‘Love and Friendship’ as well as that of ‘Don Juan’ by Lord Byron. Each of these pieces of art is a close representation of what romanticism advocates and therefore have a very close relationship.

Mostly, romanticism is a deviation from the norms, and this is a reason as to why it was retraction against realism, by using the romantic language, thereby being a critic and at the same time an appraisal of romanticism. Lord Byron is one of such artists that can be considered to be a critic on romanticism with his poem ‘Don Juan.’ Don Juan is in love with his mother, an issue that is not normal. To begin with, Donna Julia is described as being a chromium woman, and through her charms, she is able to lure her son to have an intimate friendship with her. Women never seduce men, but here we see a woman seducing a man to fall in love with her — a deviation of the norm, yet in a romantic way. Donna Julia is not contented by what her partner offers in marriage, and she wants more, and this is the reason she lures her son to fall in love with her. Don Juan is easily lured into a relationship by a woman, making it a critique to romanticism. The affair is romantic in nature, taking into consideration that it goes against the convention, containing a main character that to some extent can be identified as a romantic hero, contains a self-aware narrator and at the same time challenges the society’s perceptions.

Romanticism is all about deviation from the conventions, acting against the norms of a culture and this has been greatly fulfilled by Don Juan, who goes against the romantic and epic conventions. Gender roles are one of the conventions that are broken in Don Juan. Other artists significantly stress an independent man that was in touch with nature and sexuality, but in Byron’s case, the role is different. Women are usually the people who are acted upon and not the vice versa, but in Don Juan, the pattern is reversed in that the man turns to be acted on. The man, Don Juan turns to be seduced rather than the conventional way of seducing women. For all the women that Don Juan encounters, he makes no effort to lure them to bed, but in contrast, the women trick him to bed in that he is irresistible.

The gender roles are therefore reversed in this case, in that the women assumes the masculine role of being the pursuers, and consequently assume the active role of asserting their authority and independence. For example, in Don Juan’s first relationship, Dona Julia, the woman who assumed the masculine role and at the same time who happens to be Juan’s mother battles with her conscience, standing up to her husband at the moment when he suspected that Juan had been seeing his mother, something that actually had been happening. Dona Julia says, “For in silence I have suffered long/ QA husband like Alfonso on my side/ Is it for this I have disdained to hold/ The common privileges of my sex?” In contrast, a man is expected to stand up for such a case but for Don Juan, and it was different as when they were caught in action, he fled and thus assuming a feminine role.

The other way in which Byron makes ‘Don Juan’ is through the unconventional adventures of love which are both physical and sentimental. Physical love is perceived to integrate emotion into the body, but in contrast, Juan’s love is materialistic and thus going against the intent of love on emotions. By being materialistic, he goes on to exploit the women to whom he has been seduced, physically interacting with them with no emotional consequences. Juan’s intentions, therefore, are not to build love emotions from the women he engages with and thus going against the societal norms. According to conservatives, a person is expected to engage in a permanent relationship that would lead to marriage, but Juan deviates these odds in that he engages in many relationships, of which none of them is permanent. Through resisting permanent relationships, the society gets influenced in a negative way in that women may assume the role of seduction while men may engage in less serious relationships leading to a decrease in love morality resulting from societal hypocrisy.

Austen is another artist to whose her works can be considered a critic to romanticism. As previously identified, romanticism emphasized on individualism, but in contrast, Austen focuses on relationships and the community and therefore does not emphasize on individualism. In the novel, Austen narrates about rushed marriages that were conducted without the wish of their parents. Normally in a society, marriage involves a collaboration between all the relevant parties. Families from both sides need to be involved in approving the marriage, but in Austen’s case, quick marriages disregard the will of the parents and therefore goes against the conventions of a traditional marriage.

Parents provide advice on what they perceive to be relevant and fit for their children, and that is the reason why Edward’s father had planned for his son to marry another girl. Despite that love is involved in the case, it goes against the individualistic perspective of love and marriage. A person is supposed to fall in love with another person to whom they are free and not that they should be forced to fall in love. Love and marriage is an individual affair, and this is why a person should be allowed to choose their partner. However, in Austen’s ‘Love and Friendship’ the parents are responsible for finding a marriage as well as love partner for their children, something that compels most of the marriages to go against the parent’s wish. The reason is that the children have their tastes and choices and thus should not be forced to marry the person they don’t love. Love results in marriage, and there is no such case where marriage can result to love as this as well would a deviation of the norms. Laura and Edward have been cornered in such situation whereby, Edward’s father has found him a wife, but Edward doesn’t want to marry his father’s choice, and this is the reason as to why he flees, only to appear in Laura’s family home.

Gender roles have as well been violated by the instance where Laura wanted to marry Edward when he appeared at their home. Laura assumed the masculine role by asking to be married, after marriage she and Sophia assumes family responsibility to feeding themselves, and this is after Edward goes to rescue Sophia’s husband Augustus from jail, but he fails to return, leaving the women to make all the decisions in their family.

Works Cited

Austen, Jane. Love and Friendship and Other Early Works. Seltzer Books via PublishDrive, 2018.

Beatty, Bernard. Byron’s Don Juan. Routledge, 2016.

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