Time Passes

“Time Passes” is the shortest part of Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and displays a stark contrast from the first part of the novel. One thing I found to be very interesting is that this piece is the shortest in the whole novel, yet the largest part of time passes in “Time Passes.” I also found it interesting how it seems that the point of view changed in comparison to “The Window.” In “The Window,” the reader was able to not only see the way that each character was acting, but also the way that each character was thinking and feeling, and how that could have contradicted to their action. In “Time Passes”, this was not a common occurrence. In fact, the house is somewhat personified in this context because we see how it changes. In “Time Passes” the house is vacant and ultimately falling apart. This vacancy and absence to me seems to be a parallel to what happened in Europe during World War I. Though World War I was not actively taking place in Britain, and it was at times thought of as something going on “over there” ti still greatly impacted the people because of the loss of those around them.

Decadence and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is a poem that exemplifies the values of Victorian age Decadence. Decadence was essentially the uprooting of those Victorian values with an amoral attitude that focused on more of the sexual things that were not talked about at the time. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” embodies this because of the multitude of different sexual references and Elliot alluding to sex in many different ways. For example, Eliot writes, ” And when I am formulates, sprawling on a pin,when I am pinned and wriggling on the wall/ then how should I begin to spit out all of the butt-ends of my days and ways?” (ll. 58-59).This line to me, puts emphasis on sexual dominance of the main character over all of his lovers. This quote also indicates that the main character’s partner emphasizes the sexual act rather than the emotional relationship. This attitude is most certainly decadent because of the amoral attitude and inability to emotionally connect with one’s partner. However, what contrasts Decadence is that same idea: sexual acts were still somewhat reserved for marriage. So, Eliot is avidly describing affairs as well as sexual acts that were outside of marriage, which was still against the Decadent times. For example, Eliot writes, “In the room the women come and go” (13) and “Is it perfume from a dress that makes me so digress?” (65-66). This implies that the main character of this poem is sleeping around with many different women and is being called out by the narrator. In conclusion, Decadence is evident in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” because of the way Eliot talks so freely about sex, but contrast with Decadence because of the main character’s ability to sleep with a multitude of women.

Enlightenment and Romanticism in “The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844”

Friedrich Engels “The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844” displays values of both Enlightenment and Romanticism. Engels communicates the industrialization in 1844 which parallels the Enlightenment. In his introduction, Friedrich communicates how beautiful London is for its industrialization; “The great population has made London the commercial capital of the world…I know nothing more imposing than the view one obtains of the over when sailing from the sea up to the London Bridge” (1101). Engels is especially influencing his audience to believe in all of the progress that London and England as a whole has made. Similarly, the Enlightenment was focused on industrialization as well as fact and reason. In addition to this emphasis on progress nationally, Engels changes his lens to a more Romantic view as one reads further.

The Romantics as a whole tended to point out the flaws with society, whether subtly or boldly. Romantics were in touch with nature, and were not afraid to begin discussion on topics that were previously ignored. Engels does just that when talking about this Industrialization, saying “it is only later that the traveller appreciates the human suffering which has made all this possible” (1102). Engels is not afraid to state his opinion that all of the power lies in the hands of the few that are becoming wealthy off of industrialization. Engels emphasizes poor working conditions, even worse living conditions, and an overall undervalue of the lives of the middle class. Engels says  “Do they not all aim at happiness by following similar methods?” (1102), which to me, really emphasis that at the end of the day, each and every one of these people are humans. Another essential part of the Romanticism movement is nature, which is ignored due to the industry in London. I found the lack of nature to be important simply because it was so essential in a lot of the writing that came before “The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844.” Overall, this piece is intentionally Enlightenment as well as Romantic because of the aspects of industry as well as the call to action.

“A Vindication of the Rights of Women”

When first reading about Mary Wollstonecraft, it is easy to see that she continually pushed social boundaries. She fully intended to simply do whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted, despite the social stigma. Wollstonecraft was a progressive woman, beginning the fight for feminism and for her own equality. She knows the topic of feminism better than anyone else could at this time. Wollstonecraft bases all of her arguments on what she believes is fact and truth. Because of this, I would mostly classify the writing of Mary Wollstonecraft as Enlightenment writing. One main characteristic or focus of the Enlightenment time period was scientific reasoning and knowledge. Wollstonecraft claimed on page 288 that she has “produced many arguments, which to me [Wollstonecraft] were conclusive…” (288). At the beginning of this passage from A Vindication of the Rights of Women, it is clear that the author has done her research, and is prepared to back all of her evidence up factually. However, upon reading further, I realized that Wollstonecraft seems to fall right in the middle of both of these time periods. She becomes quite dramatic throughout her introduction to A Vindication of the Rights of Women. She writes “Dismissing then those pretty feminines phrases, which the men condescendingly use to soften our slavish dependence, and despising that weak elegancy of mind, exquisite sensibly, and sweet docility of manners, supposed to be the sexual characteristics of the wearer vessel, I wish to show that elegance is inferior to virtue” (292). It is obvious that this passage is filled with emotion and hatred toward males for objectifying women, and it is obvious that Wollstonecraft is passionate that she is no longer objectified. This rebellious yet flowery language is a strong characteristic of Romanticism. In conclusion, Wollstonecraft’s writing definitely embodies characteristics of both Enlightenment and Romanticism, but it is ultimately unclear to which side of the spectrum Wollstonecraft’s work falls.

Nature in “Lines Left upon a seat in a Yew-tree”

“Lines Left upon a seat in a Yew-tree” by William Wordsworth is in all honesty, the embodiment of the Romantic writing period. Its intentional use of nature imagery is an essential difference between Romanticism and Enlightenment.Romanticism was, in fact the reaction to the Enlightenment and its standards. Romanticism tended to be more critical of the imperialistic attitude of those who wrote during the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was more focused on how one should master nature, and how one should not discuss emotion, feeling, or even desire. In short, the Enlightenment lacked pleasure, and in all honesty, excitement. An example of writing during the Enlightenment would be the novel Robinson Crusoe. Crusoe seems to do everything with a purpose. In one instance, Crusoe is communicating to the reader everything that he has done, and for what purpose it has been done. He says “and so when I found I was pretty safe as to beasts of prey, I worked sideways, to the right hand, into the rock; and then, turning to the right again, worked quite out…” (Defoe). Crusoe is building a shelter, for the purpose of staying away from anything that could harm him, either animals or weather conditions. Crusoe is actively being a sensible character, and is actively conquering nature. Crusoe moves with a purpose, and there is nothing more important than that purpose. Curse proves that he is the strongest, the most intelligent, and superior being in his shipwrecked society. But “Lines Left upon a seat in a Yew-Tree” is quite the contrast to Crusoe’s active sensibility.

In “Lines Left upon a seat in a Yew-tree” nature is such an essential part of the poem. This tree that the traveler must sit on with the narrator is “far from human dwelling” (ll 2). It’s very desolate and confusing for the reader, and it is hard to tell what is real and what isn’t. The storyteller then goes on to say “Yet, if the wind breathe soft, the curling waves/ that break against the shore, shall lull thy mind by one soft impulse saved from vacancy” (lines  5-7). This storyteller is communicating the impact that nature is having on him, rather than the impact he is having on nature. This directly contrasts with what Defoe communicates in Robinson Crusoe because the narrator is actively admitting that he is allowing nature to control him. Nature is making the narrator feel soothed, and is ultimately admitting that nature has the ability to have control over him. In some of the final words of the poem, it is said that “The man/  whose eye is ever on himself/ doth look on one/ the least of nature’s works / one who might move the wise man to that score which wisdom holds” (ll 51-4). Here again, Wordsworth circles back to the idea that nature, may in fact, be in control over humanity. He specifically uses the phrase “the least of nature’s works” to further this explanation. In conclusion, the main difference between the enlightenment writing and the Romantic writing is that those during the enlightenment aimed to conquer nature, while those during the romantic time period aimed to embrace nature and give up control to nature.