The Neoclassical Age of English Literature

The various ages in the English literature contributed something or the other to this world with their unique style of writing as well as their unique subjects. The Neoclassical era was one such age that added a new flavour to the field of literature.

The poets, authors, writers, novelists, all came up with their own exclusive style to contribute to readers.

Above all, the era marked a great breakaway from its preceding age and therefore all the complexities of this age must be dealt with in order to understand it and so that literature students may not need assignment help for the same.

Puritan age was just before the Neoclassical era. The age had all the religious fervour since the Parliament rule under Oliver Cromwell prohibited all sorts of recreational activities that were against the religion of the day.

Cromwell thus allowed only religious writings and prohibited drama. With the restoration of King Charles II to the throne of England, things in the country took a turn for good.

Charles II gave more liberty to people than the earlier monarchs and therefore theatres were again opened. And this time, unlike the Elizabethan era, even women could participate in it.

In fact, several research paper writing on the era state that more and more coffee houses were being opened and with all this liberty and freedom licentiousness too increased and took a great deal of society under it.

Therefore, the writers in this age took to their hands to expose this society to themselves so that they understand how they actually live and interact.

The Neoclassical era was divided into the Restoration age, the Augustan age and the Age of Sensibility (the Age of Johnson). It stretched for a long span from 1660 to 1785.

The Restoration Age had various prominent writers that gave the age its deserved place in the literary world. Although Charles II was the King during this time, but John Dryden came out to be the king of the Restoration literature.

Be it prose or poetry or even critical writing, Dryden mastered all. His writings set a bar for all the literary works; therefore, he was the most important literary figure in this age.

Dryden’s most important contribution is in the popularization of heroic couplet in the English poetry. It was due to his efforts that satire became the most prominent form of writing in this age.

Another most popular contribution of Dryden was his MacFlecknoe, in which Dryden mocks one of his literary rival, Thomas Shadwell. The importance of the poem lies in it following the mock epic style of writing (all characteristics of epic are used yet the subject chosen is trivial enough to make the work a mock epic).

This style of Dryden was followed by his contemporaries as well as his successors, most prominent among whom was Alexander Pope, who wrote his famous Rape of the Lock in the mock epic style. Thus, we move to the age of Pope and Swift.

Alexander Pope was one of the greatest satirists of his times. His mock-epic Rape of the Lock earned him fame. He satirized the then society in this work of his and brought out to the people the trivial nature of affairs they deal with. Joseph Addison and Jonathan Swift were yet again leading writers of this age.

Swift’s The Battle of Books was a short satire, written as a prolegomenon to his A Tale of Tub in 1704. The book described a literal battle between books in King’s library in St. James palace.

This again highlighted the social situation in that era when there was a fight for supremacy between the ancient and the modern writers. Another very important work of Swift was The Modest Proposal which was a Juvenalian satirical essay that was published as a pamphlet in 1729.

The greatness of the work lied in its subject wherein the writer targeted the rationalism of modern economics- there was a growth of rationalistic modes of thinking in the modern era at the expense of more traditional level of human values. Swift’s satires are more of a general nature than of personal ones.

His satires are often violent and cruel and sometimes even repulsive and coarse. Joseph Addison was yet another prominent prose writer of the era. Addison was a writer of political pamphlets, but they were less impressive ones.

His essays began almost casually and his The Tatler was the first published periodical that appeared thrice weekly. Another popular prose writer was Richard Steele, who wrote his popular periodical The Spectator.

Steele was a man fertile in ideas, but he usually lacked the mind to implement these ideas. Daniel Defoe was yet another a popular writer and specifically a novelist in this era who wrote his popular adventure novel Robinson Crusoe.

All his works of fiction were published at a much later part of his life but once started, they were published at an incredible speed.

After the age of Pope and Swift, was the age of Samuel Johnson or the Age of Sensibility. The name suggests the dominant position of Samuel Johnson in this age.

Several research paper writings on Samuel Johnson state that along with him, his circle too had a dominant position in the era, like Edmund Burke, Edward Gibbon, Oliver Goldsmith, James Boswell and others.

These writers altogether represented a culmination of the critical and literary modes of neoclassicism and that of Enlightenment. The name also stresses on the emergence of new cultural attitudes, types of poetry and theories of literature.

Here we find a growing bend towards the Middle Ages, a rising interest in the folk culture as well as the ballads. Samuel Johnson wrote a little poetry, but his prose works earned him immense fame.

He wrote more of political works like an imaginary Parliamentary debate, without even attending the session of the Parliament. Later he began his work on The Dictionary of English Language which was his greatest contribution to scholarship but only had a drawback of poor pronunciation.

Therefore, these were a few points that students must note down for effective assignment help on the Neoclassical era of English Literature.

Author: mayank

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