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The Lake School Poets - Essay Example

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Name Subject/Course Date The Lake School Poets: The Shift from Being Liberalists to Conservatives Because of Napoleon Bonaparte I. Introduction The Lake School Poets are poets that were based in the Lake District of West England. They were famously composed of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey…
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Download file to see previous pages As Romanticists, they have been staunch supporters of freedom and the French Revolution. For them, it was a noble cause for it promotes the tenets of Romanticism, although they deny being a part of the said movement. The French Revolution symbolized liberty from the trappings of wealth that was the French Royalty. Not only that, it symbolized the inequality of power between the people and the monarchs. Because of this love for liberty, they believed on France’s Revolution and had their passionate beliefs. However, after some time, they abandoned their liberalist beliefs, especially William Wordsworth, and became conservatives, largely believing now in constitutional monarchy and the power of the Protestant Church as the guiding light for the British. Is the shift because of Napoleon’s failure to reach the poets’ expectations of being a libertarian because he also intended to conquer Europe, or is it because their own personal struggles that lead them to prioritize their own individual beliefs? Was it because of their age? This essay proposes that they became conservatives because of their Napoleon failed their expectations. II. Summary and Critique According to Bertrand Russell, “In his youth Wordsworth sympathized with the French Revolution, went to France, wrote good poetry, and had a natural daughter. At this period he was called a 'bad' man. Then he became 'good,' abandoned his daughter, adopted correct principles, and wrote bad poetry.” This is an observation to the poet shifting from being a liberalist to a conservative. Romanticists are known to being ambivalent towards the society as they were politically involved but they were also distancing themselves from the public. And as romanticists, they strongly objected to the oppression and injustice. However, the Lake poets shifted to conservatism. There are many theories on why this has happened. There is a theory that it was because of Coleridge addiction to opium, the death of Wordsworth’s brother and their disenchantment on the French revolution. Coleridge’s addiction to opium was because of his chronic rheumatism. The doctors prescribed laudanum to him, an opium derivative, and became addicted for sixteen years. His condition never really affected his writings as he wrote good poetry even when he was high with drugs. His good friend Wordsworth even took him into his home and he spent two years there. When he moved out, he learned that Wordsworth told their mutual friend not to take him in because he had “a derangement in his intellectual and moral constitution” (Shmoop Editorial Team). This resulted in the breaking up of their friendship and they both wrote less poetry after the incident. Another theory is that Wordsworth’s brother’s death may have contributed to the shift of the poets to shift to conservatism. This happened in 1805 and has affected him strongly. This only happened to Wordsworth, not everyone in their movement. Although they are all good friends, this could not have effected the others that much. The last theory proposed by Fairchild is that they were all disenchanted by the way Napoleon took over France after the French Revolution. Because after the Revolution ended, Napoleon began conquering other countries. This failed them because their cause about liberty and the revolution did not end up the way they wanted it to be as Napoleon also got into other ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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