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Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages

Enlightenment in English

Dune by: 411 group Akerke

Checked: Ten Y.C.

Enlightenment in English Literature
Main part

Literary characteristics
British neoclassicism
Three Periods

The enlightenment . In the 18th century Britain was as powerful as France. This resulted from the
growth of its industries and from the wealth of its large new trading empire. Britain had the strongest navy in the
world, the navy controlled Britain's own trade routes and endangered those of its enemies. Britain became
wealthy thanks to trade. This wealth made possible both an agricultural and an industrial revolution which made
Britain the most advanced economy in the world. The 18th century could also be called a century of wars. From
the beginning to the end of the century the great rival, the enemy was France. At first the struggle was for
European supremacy, but by the middle of the century the struggle with France was for overseas empire. Here
Britain had an advantage because she had the better navy and knew how to use her sea-power. It was during these
years that the huge British Empire, ranging from Gibraltar to India and Canada was built up.
The same key-word reason can be found in the deflation of the term Enlightenment: "the period in the 18th
century in Europe when certain thinkers taught that science and the use of reason would improve the human
The writers and philosophers of this age thought that man was virtuous by nature, and vice was due to ignorance

only, so they started a public movement for enlightening people. To their understanding, this would do away with
all the evils of society, and social harmony would be achieved. But the 18th century in England was also "the age
of elegance". Real civilization, superior to the old classical civilization of Greece and Rome, to which the 18th
century compared itself, had been achieved at last. Now society (persons of position, wealth and influence) could
enjoy it. At the beginning of this period literature was chiefly created for this small society of important and
influential people. It was a public literature, which represented the outlook and values of this limited society. It
did not represent the impressions, hopes or fears of one individual. It was literature that could be read aloud in a
drawing-room, enjoyed in a theatre or discussed in a coffee-house. It seems quite natural, that the atmosphere of
this kind encouraged comedy, satire in verse and prose, pleasant little essays, and criticism, but it did not
encourage poetry, because this society did not expect from literature anything private or intimate. However, very
soon the situation changed drastically. The middle class, especially its women members took to buying and
reading books. If they could not afford to buy them, they borrowed them from libraries run by shopkeepers. This
fact shows that by 1770s the novel had won great popularity. English literature of the period may be characterized
by the following features:
- this period saw the rise of the political pamphlet and essay, but the leading genre of the Enlightenment became
the novel. Poetry gave way to tie prose age of the essayists and novelists. The prose style became dear, graceful
and polished;
-the hero of the novel was no longer a prince, but a representative of the middle class: that was new, because so
far the common people had been depicted as comic characters;
- literature became very instructive; writers tried to tech their readers what was good and what was bad from their
own point of view.
Literary characteristics
emphasis on logic and rational thought, not emotions; emphasis on the social/good of the community, not
the individual
presence of numerous classical allusions; use of satire; use of elevated diction; formal style that adhered
to set rhyme schemes, such as couplets; two-dimensional characters or stock types that represent a class or
Influence of Drama-comic satires
rise of literary magazines
novel in various forms, including picaresque, gothic, and novel of manners
emphasis on reason and logic
stresses harmony, stability, wisdom
Locke: a social contract exists between the government and the people. The government governs
guaranteeing natural rights of life, liberty, and property

letters, diaries, biographies

emphasis on the individual
belief that humanity is basically evil
approach to life: the world as it
should be

Historical Context:

50% of males are functionally literate (a dramatic rise)

Fenced enclosures of land cause demise of traditional village life
Factories begin to spring up as industrial revolution begins
Impoverished masses begin to grow as farming life declines and factories build
Coffee houseswhere educated men spend evenings with literary and political associates

The two leading figures of Enlightenment satire are Voltaire (in French) and Swift (in English).
Voltaire (pen name of Franois Marie Arouet) battled many forms of injustice, including religious
and political discrimination, arbitrary imprisonment, and torture. He is known primarily for his
many philosophical and satirical works, including novels, short stories, and essays. Voltaire was
also an accomplished poet, tragedian, and historian.6
Irish-English author Jonathon Swift, perhaps the most widely famous satirist in history, penned
many works of satirical prose on a wide range of issues; a key personal grievance was English
mistreatment of the Irish. Swift's masterpiece is the novel Gulliver's Travels, a broad examination
of ethics, politics, and society framed in a series of fantastic adventures
E. A Sampling of Key Literature & Authors:
Alexander Pope
Samuel Johnson

Daniel Defoe
John Bunyan

Jonathan Swift
John Milton

1702 Queen Anne Period: Anne, Mary's sister, succeeds William to the throne. During her reign, the rival
Whigs and Tories dominated Parliament, representing commercial and urban interests. They encourage
war with France, which they hoped would lead to British trade dominance.
1714 House of Hanover
Anne is succeeded by George I from the House of Hanover, who favored the Whigs; the Whig-dominated
House of Commons grows in importance during his reign. With George I and II, Whigs Robert Walpole
and William Pitt came advise the king; Pitt in particular advised the king during the 7 Years War (a.k.a.
the French and Indian Wars of 1756 - 1763). In 1760 George III succeeds his grandfather George II and
believes that the king should play an active role in politics. Tories sympathizer, he urged an inconclusive
peace with France.
1750 Industrial Revolution
In England rural cottage industries, where workers produced goods in their homes, give way to urban
factories that rely on machine-based manufacturing.
1776 The American Revolution
Rebellion in North America results from Tory influence, unfair taxation, and George III's desire to keep
the colonies a producer of raw material that was then shipped to England for processing.
1783 Britain recognizes America as a nation.
1789 The French Revolution
The Revolution ends the Age of Reason or Neoclassicism by advancing democratic ideals that destroyed
the social hierarchy of nobility, landed gentry, merchants & professionals, and the working poor.
Three Periods
The first period lasted from the "Glorious Revolution" (1688-1689) till the end of the 1730s. It
is characterized by classicism in poetry, the greatest follower of the classic style was
Alexander Pope. Alongside with this high style there appeared new prose literature, the essays
of Steele and Addison and the first realistic novels written by Defoe and Swift. Most of the
writers of this time wrote political pamphlets, but the best came from the pens of Defoe and

The second period of the Enlightenment was the most mature period: the forties and the
fifties of the 18th century. It saw the development of the realistic social novel represented by
Richardson, Fielding and Smollett.
The third period refers to the last decades of the century. It is marked by the appearance of
the new trend: Sentimentalism. The representatives of this trend were Goldsmith and Sterne.
This period also saw the rise of the realistic drama (Sheridan) and the revival of poetry.
Age of Dryden
Named for John Dryden
Celebrates Human Achievement

Age of Pope and Swift

Heavy Neoclassic style characterized by Alexander Pope and Jonathan
Age of Johnson
Beginnings of a shift toward Romanticism
John Dryden.
The most accomplished poet of the period
Made prose acceptable to literary circles, and helped establish writing as a
legitimate career
clear and concise and became the standard against which all other English writers
were measured.
His work was a response to the excesses and political upheaval of the restoration.
Praised the virtues of order, balance & harmony
Poet laureate in 1668
Daniel Defoe.
Born into a working class family
Considered the ministry but instead decided on becoming a crappy businessman
Didnt start writing the novels that made him famous until into his sixties
Was pilloried for political writing
Wrote two very popular novels (a new form at the time)
Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders (both purported to be nonfiction)
Crusoe started a genre
Also wrote a non fiction (kinda) accountJournal of the Plague Year
Jonathan Swift.
Was born in Dublin, Ireland
Was a minister in the Church of England
His satirical works ruined his chances to advance in the church
Still remained a staunch supporter of the Anglican faith
Held a great amount of political power in later years- wrote political pamphlets for
the government
Wrote A Modest Proposal which championed the Irish cause
His greatest work, Gullivers Travels is considered one of the greatest satires in
British literature.
Alexander Pope.
The first English poet to support himself solely by his writing
Being Catholic prevented him from holding public office or getting a wealthy patron
First major work was An Essay on Criticism, which brought him to the attention of
the leading literary figures of the time.

Very frail in health- was less than five feet tall. Was a sharp wit and was a sought
after guest
A brilliant satirist-one of his best know works is The Rape of the Lock, one of
the greatest Mock Epics in English

The Enlightenment was a sprawling intellectual, philosophical, cultural, and social movement that spread
through England, France, Germany, and other parts of Europe during the 1700s .The Enlightenment and all of the
new knowledge thus permeated nearly every facet of civilized life. Not everyone participated, as many
uneducated, rural citizens were unable to share in the Enlightenment during its course. But even their time would
come, as the Enlightenment also prompted the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which provided rural
dwellers with jobs and new cities in which to live. As the eighteenth century drew to its inevitable close, the
passionate calls for social reform and a utopian, egalitarian society quieted down substantially. If nothing else,
people were simply tired. The bloodshed in France and a variety of other upheavals had seemed to demonstrate
that Enlightenment principles were not practical, or at least not yet. The atmosphere that permeated early
nineteenth century Europe was one of relative tranquility. Granted, there had been substantial gains made in
nearly all walks of life thanks to the progressive ideas of the Enlightenment. Science had been propelled forward,
such that the traditional authority of the Church was in real jeopardy. Monarchs no longer ruled by Divine Right,
and citizens had frank conversations about their nations policies and the course of world events. The literary
world, too, had to catch its breath. No one yet knew how to deal with a suddenly literate public, clamoring for
reading material. The next several decades would be spent figuring that out. Despite its apparent failures and
setbacks, the Enlightenment paved the way for the modern world.