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The Enlightenment

THE ENLIGHTENMENT (end of the 17th  – middle of the 18th c. )

HISTORY:

Puritan and Restoration Ages (1625-1702)

  • The Civil War (1642-1651)- Oliver Cromwell’s puritans win and establish the Republic (they abolish the monarchy and the House of Lords);
  • The Restoration – the country returns to monarchy;
  • The Glorious Revolution (1688) limits the power of the monarch in favour of the Parliament.

The Augustan Age (1702-1776)

  • The two-party political system is established;
  • The American Declaration of Independence (1776) disrupts the British colonial expansion system.

ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:

Puritan and Restoration Ages

  • Economic boom and mercantilism;
  • Puritans banned all forms of entertainment;
  • Puritan rigidity is discarded after the Restoration;
  • The Plague (1666) and the Great Fire (1666) decimated the population.

The Augustan Age

  • Start of the Industrial Revolution
    • small factories
    • mechanization
    • workers live in workhouses in poor living conditions
    • hospitals are built in towns
    • rise of the middle class
    • power is associated with money.

IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:

  • The Enlightenment period is known as The Age of Reason;
  • The extravagance of Renaissance is replaced by Puritan Pragmatism and Morality;
  • Scientific and social revolutions lead to research and innovation and the development of Mathematics, Physics, Medicine, and Astronomy;
  • Philosophers (Th. Hobbes, R. Descartes, J. Locke) spread the idea that reason is the key to understanding the world;
  • The desire for order, clarity, and stability.

LITERATURE:

Puritan and Restoration Ages

Poetry

  • John Donne
  • John Milton
  • John Dryden

Drama

  • Theatre was considered to be immoral
  • The comedy of manners was the only accepted type of play- William Congreve is the most outstanding writer

Prose

  • Robert Burton
  • Sir Thomas Browne
  • John Milton
  • John Bunyan

The Augustan Age

Poetry

  • Alexander Pope: is influenced by classical writers, his poetry is defined by harmony, concision, elegance, and technical perfection.

Prose

  • Popular types of prose: journalism prose, essays, political satire, pamphlets
  • Middle-class readers were Puritans who preferred factual writing over fiction (was considered a form of lying)
  • Realistic traits in writing
    • prose is an imitation of life as it is
    • literature has an instructive purpose
    • interest in travelling
    • middle-class heroes

         Writers:

  • Daniel Defoe
  • Samuel Richardson
  • Henry Fielding
  • Jonathan Swift
  • Laurence Sterne

Drama

  • John Gay
  • Oliver Goldsmith