Discuss art for art's sake vs. art for life's sake in regards to Paradise Lost?Give the references of different authors.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The idea of both conceptions of art refers to the fundamental premise on why art should be created.  For those who believe in art for arts sake methodology of creation, art is created for its own benefit and that it exists in a world that is outside of social understanding.  Rather, the artist is a distinct force in the world where few, if any, can understand and their voice in guiding the creation of art.  The artist's purpose is to create art and pursue its development in listening to their own voice and that spirit of creation.  Little else matters in this pursuit.  To some extent, we can see this in the Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, or in the Romantic writer John Keats.  In more modern senses, the ending of Joyce's characterization of Stephen Daedalus could also represent such an idea.  In contrast, art for life sake is seen as the creation of art which is to mirror reality or even change it.  In this setting, art cannot exist outside of its social contingencies and is often influenced by it.  Art for life sake is a mode of art where the artist must depict reality in the hopes of changing it or to be an effective mirror of it.  The artist is a part of the world and with their gift of creating art can alter it or mirror it.  They are driven to display this connection through their art.  Lord Byron and Wordsworth would be an example of this, along with Mary Shelley.  Another example could be Flaubert, whose realist beliefs compelled him to create art that was a mirror to reality, though he did not feel it was his place to overtly advocate changing society through the depiction of art.

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