Eighteenth Century English Literature Essay

5843 Words Aug 24th, 2012 24 Pages
Chapter III: Eighteenth Century English Literature
LITERATURE OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT

(18th century)

The 17th century was one of the most stormy periods of English history. The growing contradictions between the new class, the bourgeoisie, and the old forces of feudalism brought about the English Bourgeois Revolution in the 1640s. As a result of the revolution the king was dethroned and beheaded and England was proclaimed a republic. Though very soon monarchy was restored, the position of the bourgeoisie had changed.

The 18th century saw Great Britain rapidly growing into a capitalist country. It was an age of intensive industrial development. New mills and manufactures appeared one after another. Small towns grew into
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Early Enlightenment (1688-1740)

This period saw the flourishing of journalism which played an important part in the country's public life. Numerous journals and newspapers which came into being at the beginning of the 18th century not only acquainted their readers with the situation at home and abroad, but also helped to shape people's views. Most popular were the satirical moralizing journals. The Tatler, The Spectator, The Englishman edited by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. In their essays - short compositions in prose - these two writers touched on various problems of political, social and family life. The essays paved the way for the realistic novel which was brought into English literature by Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift.

2. Mature Enlightenment (1740-1750)

The social moralizing novel was born in this period. It was represented by the works of such writers as Samuel Richardson (Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady), Henry Fielding (The History of Torn Jones, a Foundling and other novels), and Tobias Smollett (The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker and other novels).

Henry Fielding's works were the summit of the English Enlightenment prose. In the novel The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling the author led his hero, a charming, cheerful, kind-hearted man, through a number of adventures and brought him in touch with a lot

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