The Industrial Revolution and the Emergence of Romanticism The Industrial Revolution was a period of time during the 18th century originating in Europe that resulted in major socio-economic and cultural changes around the world. These changes in part gave rise to the English Romantic spirit, especially in the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom’s economic system of manual labor shifted toward a system of machine manufacturing, resulting in the formation of factories and, therefore, modern cities.
It also gave rise to the middle and working classes, aerating more employment opportunities but severely reducing the quality of living for those working, especially those in factories. This wrongful oppression brought on by the manipulation of the impoverished resulted in an intellectual and somewhat political movement known as Romanticism. Romantic artists and authors used their work to communicate the suffering of the people living in the newly industrialized world, and described imagined worlds of beauty and perfection as a form of escape from the harshness that surrounded them.
One such artist was William Wordsmith. In his poem “l Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” Wordsmith uses nature as a form of escapism from the Industrial Revolution. He describes the beauty of a multitude of daffodils and the happiness it brought him. “And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. ” The mere thought of the perfect and serene environment continues to make him happy and makes him forget of the horrible surroundings he lives in.
This type of escapism was well-received, allowing a similar feeling to emanate in others who suffered the worst of the Industrial Revolution. The Chimney Sweeper” by William Blake is a two part poem that analyzes the innocence of child laborers during the Industrial Revolution and exposes the manipulation of authoritarian powers. Blake also used escapism to contrast the bleak reality of industrialized Europe to the beautiful world that was promised to those who put up with working in fatal conditions. And the Angel told Tom, if he’d be a good boy, He’d have God for his father & never want Joy. ” This excerpt from “Songs of Innocence” shows the lies that the children were fed in order to keep them obedient ND trusting. Blake more directly accuses the authorities in “Songs of Experience,” the second part of the poem. “And because I am happy and dance and sing, They think they have done me no injury, And are gone to praise God and His Priest and King, Who make up a Heaven of our misery. Despite the worker’s mask of happiness and content, he is truly miserable, unbeknownst to his peers and family, who praise those who are slowly killing him. The government uses the trusted concept of God to force those under them to work and produce goods for them that will make them richer. This poem raised many questions about the effects and ethical state of child labor and lead to the eventual imposition of child labor laws. Another author, Thomas Hardy, exemplifies the effects of the formation of the working classes on the average person in his poem “The Ruined Maid. In the poem, a prostitute and her former acquaintance, a lowly farmer, discuss their ruined states, despite the former looking and acting more sophisticated and well-endowed compared to her previous appearance and attitude as a farmer. Mirror hands were like paws then, your face blue and bleak, But now I’m bewitched by your delicate week… ” The harlot’s friend compares her new appearance to what she used to be, assuming she’s become more successful, but she believes that she’s been ruined, a belief that she repeatedly expresses throughout the poem.
This showcases her distorted perception of reality, believing she has it worse than her hard-working friend, when, in fact, the two live in about the same conditions and are both “ruined. ” In many ways, the emergence of Romanticism was a reaction to the effects of the Industrial Revolution. The writings and artwork of many 19th century intellectuals ND artists were created as a revolt against the inhumane treatment of low class citizens and the unnatural transformation of the environment.
They used escapism and imagery to provide a beautiful environment that was uncommon in the reality of the industrialized world and to expose the unjust effects that this new mechanized way of life had on not only the environment, but the people. These artists used the Romantic Spirit to instill a sense of hope within the oppressed and proved that the thoughts of individuals can inspire and fight against the majority, eventually coming out on top.