BOOK: The Humanistic Tradition Volume II: The Early Modern World to the Present, 6th Edition
Chapter 27: The Romantic View of Nature
1. Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” is the perfect representation in poetry of Romanticism’s obsession with nature. I have linked you
in this Unit area to a reading of the complete poem, with the text on the screen to follow along. You’ll note from the reading that the meaning doesn’t stop at the end
of each line, but rather continues through. Instead of the line end, it is the punctuation that tells you where the thought has reached a stop.
Here’s what it’s about: Wordsworth has a favorite place along the river Wye, a beautiful natural setting which is additionally picturesque because of the ruins of an
old abbey nearby. He was there 5 years ago, and is returning now with his little sister (he refers to her as “dearest Friend” in the poem). He tells us about what the
memory of this place has meant to him in his life. And he also enjoys seeing the setting as if for the first time through her innocent eyes, and hopes that it will
mean as much to her as it has to him.
(He clearly is presenting himself as the older and wiser brother at the grand old age of 28.)
What to write: Pick out a section of the poem that you especially like (it might be just 3 or 4 lines, but remember that it needs to express a complete thought), and
quote it in its entirety.
Then discuss the following:
a) Why did you like that part in particular? What do you think it is saying?
b) Have you ever felt the same way about a favorite natural setting? Do you believe that nature can offer the benefits that Wordsworth cites?
2. Discuss the main points Thoreau is making in the last three paragraphs of this excerpt, beginning with the sentence “I went to the woods because…” (Reading 27.7
“From Thoreau’s Walden”).
3. Romanticism is well-represented in American writing by Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself.”
To write about this poem:
a) Choose a line (or short passage) that particularly amazes or amuses you and quote it.
b) Explain how the selected quote ties into the attitude or spirit of Romanticism. (See page 210 for a quick definition of what constitutes Romanticism as a style,
attitude, and cultural movement.)
Chapter 28: The Romantic Hero
4. This chapter is very much organized around the myth of Prometheus and how it is reflected in the 19th century ideal of the “romantic hero”– whether it be a real
person like Napoleon or Frederick Douglass or the poet Lord Byron, or a character in literature, like Dr. Frankenstein, Faust, or one of the characters in Byron’s
Choose THREE of the “romantic heroes” discussed in this chapter and discuss them in terms of how they match up with the special characteristics of the romantic hero,
listed below, supporting your judgments with specific facts about the individuals.
egocentric, brooding, melancholic
rebels against authority
places high value on the imagination
champions the oppressed, the underdog
5. What do you find most interesting or surprising in the section titled “Romantic Love and Romantic Stereotypes” at the end of this chapter? How much and in what ways
specifically are we in the 21st century still influenced by these 19th century attitudes and stereotypes when it comes to romantic love?
Chapter 29: Romantic Style in Art and Music
6. Compare/contrast two paintings in this chapter: Goya’s “The Third of May” (Figure 29.1) and Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People” (Figure 29.6). Note
similarities and differences in subject matter, artistic style, and especially in theme (both are presented in the section titled “Heroic Themes in Art,” but how do
they differ in their message or impact?).
7. Listen to the First Movement of Beethoven’s Symphony #3 (known as the “Eroica” Symphony).
a) Come up with THREE adjectives to describe it. (Your adjectives can be as direct as “loud” or “fast,” or as interpretive as “melancholy” or “hopeful.”)
b) Based on your own listening and the background provided in the chapter, how does Beethoven’s Symphony # 3 reflect the values and style of the Romantic movement?
(See page 210 for a quick definition of what constitutes Romanticism as a style, attitude, and cultural movement.)
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