Please compare the Romantic Period to the Age of Reason.
In relation to literature, the Age of Reason was a time of relatively strict aesthetic rules. It was thought that the very best literature was concerned with universal themes that spoke to mankind in general rather than to specific national, religious, or ethnic groups. To achieve such universality it was necessary to observe certain rules that harked back to the great stylists of antiquity, such as the Roman statesman and orator Cicero.
Neoclassical writers such as Pope were preoccupied—one might even say obsessed—with a precise depiction of what they called "Nature," that is to say, human nature. They believed that human nature was constant, so it was deemed appropriate for works of literature, as with works of art in general, to concentrate on those common aspects of humanity. Among other things, this meant a profound distrust of any work of art that dealt with the strange, the unusual, or the grotesque.
The Romantics took the exact opposite view. They tended to believe that the...
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