Finding Perdita

Weeks 7-8

What did I do?

Looked at the Paradigms of Romanticism

Expanded the definitions of t2he views with which the Romantics saw the world under the categories of economics, religious, philosophy, social/historical and scientific. We created a table, listing the characteristics of each category and evidence of those views which may be drawn from the prescribed Samuel Taylor Coleridge poems as well as our individual related texts.

I realised that there was a clash in views about religion. As atheism was becoming a more popular view, authors such as P. B. Shelley followed and supported it; Shelley wrote the pamphlet The Necessity of Atheism as a university student. This view was supportive of the fulfilment of the individual, rather than the apparent ‘constraining’ manner of organised religion. In contrast, the views of Coleridge convey a need for God – that God may be found in nature, through which a person may grow to be closer to Him – while condemning the idea of uniformity such as the city and the very religious and strict boarding school that he attended as a young boy.

Influenced heavily by the age of Enlightenment, the Romantics were very contemplative of the human mind and experience, they valued the creativity and imagination of people. They were however, very opposed the Enlightenment idea of nature being studied and taken apart, they believed that there were hidden forces of nature that were better understood through a subjective frame of mind, – which they expressed art forms – rather than dissection.

I did not come any new realisations about the  economic, religious or social/historical paradigms, however, I did find examples for them.

Assessment Progress

I have made major progress with my research of Mary Robinson (1757-1800), since finding Memoirs of Mary Robinson, “Perdita”. As there were close to articles to be found online about either her writing or her life, this source has been extremely helpful in discovering the context of the author of the poem January, 1795 which I am using as an example for the change that was Romanticism. The ordeal of relationships that she went through, the poor example of her father, and the genuine sorrowful view with which she saw the world greatly affected her writing. She was forced to mature at a very young age, even for her time (late 18th Century) and held an interest in literature from an even younger age. She was writting poetry sincerely since her early marriage, which was at barely fifteen years old, and was commonly ridiculed for both her position as a wife and for her love of arts by those in the company of her husband. Prior to her marriage, she was to debut on stage as the character Cordelia in the Shakespeare play King Lear. She was forever known as “Perdita” after her memorable performance as the character in The Winter’s Tale in 1779 – where she attracted the attention of the Prince of Wales, George IV. Her other ‘name’ was ‘the English Sappho’ (Saphho was an archaic female Greek lyrical poet).

Her poem January, 1795 depicts the world as backward. She conveys the nature of gender roles to have been reversed to what they should be. I have found, in reading her memoirs, that an inspiration for this poem may have been her beloved teacher Meribah Lorrington who, as a motherless child, had been “a masculine education” as her father had longed for a son. She was, as Robinson described, “lost in the unfeminine propensity”.

Robinson M. Memoirs of Mary Robinson, “Perdita” Illustrated Edition. (1895) Dodo Press


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