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Eighteenth Century as an era of clashes

Eighteenth Century as an era of clashes

Eighteenth century can be read as a century of clashes that made most productive use of those conflicts as reflected in art and literature. On the one hand, it is known for its rationality in terms of enlightenment then on the other hand the age witnesses the most impactful use of imagination in its gothic representations. The conflicts get their creative outlet in the satires which are often as bitter as Swift’s A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for making them Beneficial to the Publick and as mild as Pope’s An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot. A Modest Proposal offers cannibalism as a solution to poverty in Ireland and An Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot is a witty and epigrammatic attack on the poetasters. There satires were intended to bring about a positive social and political change. Basically, the range of contents of these writings expanded the literary space. Wit, humour, personal attacks as well as political opinions got their due space only to broaden the notion of literature.

Eighteenth century is a long era in the history of English Literature. To look at the century in view of philosophical enlightenment and industrialization, it can be roughly concluded that the two major events Enlightenment and Industrialization brought about a massive change in the society on a global level. As discussed earlier, this was a century of clashes and the prominent clashes develop a democratic and a dialogic space. An amalgamation of intellect, materialism; sensibility and sensitivity; old and new make it a crucial time period for the beginning of a new era. An immediate effect can be seen in the next century where we notice a shift from the clashes to romance wherein a shift can be seen from emphasis on objectivity to the evolving subjective approaches, from the classical to the common and from the confinements to the free spaces of the settings.  Not only this, the century marks the beginning of both modernism and postmodernism. It, therefore becomes crucial to understand this century in order to analyze further developments.

Dr Richa

Assistant Professor

Department of English

Patna Women’s College