357305296-Copy-of-Individualism-Essay.docx - \u201cA belief in the importance of the individual not only shaped the world of the Romantics it was also a

357305296-Copy-of-Individualism-Essay.docx - “A belief in...

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“A belief in the importance of the individual not only shaped the world of the Romantics, it was also a major determinant of the concerns, forms and features of the texts they composed.” In a shift away from the neo-classical traditions of the Enlightenment, the Romantics dispelled notions of the ‘everyman’ and instead became preoccupied with articulating their personal experiences. Following the failure of the French Revolution and the resultant Napoleonic Wars, writers and artists of the period began to draw more from the inner world of individual imagination, which not only transformed their ways of thinking, but also their forms of creative expression. However, the dominance of male writers including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge in the Romantic canon, raises questions as to whether individualism was a masculinist concept, reflecting the entrenched patriarchal values of the Romantics. The female individual is often lost within the solipsistic manifestations of male individualism and its representations as ‘wanderer’ or ‘visionary’. An examination of the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth and artworks of Caspar David Friedrich illustrate the domestic restrictions placed upon females in the formulation of their individual identities. Coleridge’s Kubla Khan illustrates the male brand of individualism in Romanticism through the depiction of man as ‘visionary’. The Mongol warlord Kubla Khan is effectively a “poetic, creator figure” and his “kingdom” is the result of the power of the imagination which is symbolised by the “mighty fountain” whose uninhibited flow may also be seen as a distinctly Freudian image of a male sexual experience. Coleridge’s deviation from poetic convention is seen in the poem’s form as a fragment where the poem is presented as paradoxically complete in its incomplete form, representing the “pleasurable activity of mind excited by the attractions of the journey itself” rather than a “restless desire to arrive at the final solution” (Biographia Literaria), which promotes individual introspection and imagination, which is heightened by the supernatural undertones of the poem. These undertones peak when Coleridge adds the presence of the “woman wailing for her demon lover”. An air of desperation and surrounds the woman as she cries for her assumedly male lover which is contrasted by the dominance of the God-like emperor with “His flashing eyes, his floating hair!”, whose air of dominance remains unphased through the depiction of nature as an overwhelmingly dangerous and sublime force, ultimately depicting the dominance of the male individual within the period.
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