Compare and contrast the Neo Classical Age with the Romantic Age.

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The neoclassical values reason, the intellect, the rational, order, balance.  The term is used somewhat synonymously with the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason.  Neoclassicism recaptures the values of Ancient Greece and Rome.  This is an age of great satire and the age of the essay.  Swift and Pope wrote during this period.

Romanticism is a strong reaction against this.  Romanticism values intuition, the spiritual, emotion, imagination, creativity, spontaneity, self-expression.  Romanticism points back to the Middle Ages, rather than to the classical.  This is the age of lyric poetry.  Woodsworth, Byron, Keats, and Shelley were romantic poets. 

This is, of course, a simplistic breakdown.  These movements or periods are extremely complex.  And I don't know why they valued their parents during these two periods.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both time periods seem to be in stark opposition to one another when their values are placed against one another.  Neoclassicists were proponents of the belief that human action can result in objectivity and scientific purity.  This emphasis on rationality helped to drive the belief that human perfectibility in a strictly scientific sense is possible.  In this vein, there was a belief in a conformist and cosmopolitan reality, as both could serve to represent the highest level of human achievement and individual advancement.  By contrast, Romantics were not driven by objective reality, but rather by individual expression.  Cosmopolitan notions of society were replaced by the drive for individual solitude and a natural setting where individuals could fine "the truth" through nature.

lit24 | Student

Literary critics consider 1798, the year when Wordsworth and Coleridge published their "Lyrical Ballads," to mark the beginning of the English Romantic Movement. However, its actual beginnings date back to the poetry of Gray, Collins, Blake and Burns who are regaded as 'Transition Poets' who lived and wrote at the end of the Neo-Classical Age. Critical opinion is divided as to when the Romantic Movement actually came to an end; infact, some critics consider the Victorian age to be a continuation of the Romantic Age and that the English Romantic Age extended till the beginning of the Modern Age in the twentieth century. The characteristic features of English Romantic poetry are:

1. Love and worship of Nature and dislike for the urban life was the mostimportant feature of the Romantic Age, whereas the Neo Classical Age was urban centric.

2. Love for the Medieval Age was another important aspect of the Romantic Age, whereas the Neo Classical Age authors preferred anything and everything Greek and Latin.

3. Love for the supernatural and the mystical was an important feature of the Romantic Age, whereas the Neo Classical Age authors were suspicious of the same.

4. Poetry, for the Romantics poets, came to be regarded as the spontaneous expression of the poet's own subjective feelings and did not conform to the poetic conventions of classical doctrines. Poetry according to the Neo Classical poets was a logical and reasoned activity guided by the rules of the ancient Greek and Latin poets and theorists.

5. The Romantic poets Completely abandoned the 'Heroic  Couplet' which was the standard line of verse of the Neo Classical poets and substituted it with simpler verse forms like the ballads which belonged to the English rural Folk. In fact the 'Ballad Revival' is said to have sparked off the English Romantic Movememnt.

6. The 'poetic diction' of the Neo-Classical Age was completely  done away with during the Romantic Age and the language of the ordinary people became the language of Romantic poetry.

7. The subjects of Romantic poetry were often ordinary people:"The Idiot Boy," unlike the subjects of Neo Classical poetry which were always about classical subjects.