Literature - a Mirror of Society
The literature of a country is affected and influenced by how
the people of that country live. This paper will prove that The
French Revolution greatly influenced 19th Century French Romanticism.
First, the cultural values of the revolution will be identified.
Then, the different aspects of Romanticism will be presented. The
cultural values of The French Revolution and Romanticism will then be
linked. Finally, literary examples will be shown to support this
connection between the two movements.
Before the Revolution, the citizens of France lived in a
strict, confined society with no freedom to express their feelings.
Government had imposed strong, unfair laws on the common people
(Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia "French Revolution"). They
wanted a voice in a stable government with a strong economy (Johnson
105) and a strong sense of individuality and independence within the
people. (Moss and Wilson 180)
Eighteenth- century literature was much like the society in
which it was produced, restrained.
Society was divided into
privileged and unprivileged classes, (Leinward 452) with Eighteenth-
century writers focusing on the lives of the upper class. (Thompson
857) These writers followed "formal rules"(Thorlby 282), and based
their works on scientific observations and logic (Thompson 895).
The Revolution gave the common people and writers more freedom
to express feelings and stimulated them to use reason. According to
Thompson, The Revolution "had a major impact on Nineteenth- Century
European Life." (895) It sent a strong wave of emotion and revival
throughout France (Peyre 59). This lead to new laws and standards for
the citizens, including newer, less imposing literary standards.
Romanticism marked a profound change in both literature and
thought. Romanticism, according to Webster's Dictionary, is defined
as "a literary movement (as in early 19th century Europe) marked
especially by an emphasis on the imagination...