What is the criticism on the institution of communication and language in Romantic Literature?

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Romantic literature could be controversial in it's own way - some of the authors beleived that passion should run so high when writing it that their emotions spilled over onto the page and was then transferred by very immediate natural language forms, but there has been much argument and critical debate over this. The poet was often held aloft as the highest oracle.

In addition to this supremacy, the proponents of aesthetic theories as presented by Wordsworth and Coleridge for example, seemed to criticise earlier poets' “poetic diction,” which to the Romantics, was not natural and therefore untruthful as it was 'affected and artificial.'  These critics wanted, according to William K. Wimsatt, Jr. and Cleanth Brooks “the primitive, the naïve, the directly passionate, the natural spoken word.” In keeping with the natural voice of celebration and praise and exuberance, Wordsworth argued that there shouldn't be any difference between the language of prose and that of poetry. So he was defending his use, in Lyrical Ballads, of the everyday language of ordinary people. In a way, he was visionary for society was about to change for ever, and the classes to blend more. Wimsatt and Brooks write that “Wordsworth's primitivism was part of a general reaction, setting in well before his own day, against the aristocratic side of neo-classicism.” Coleridge however, perceived the topic from a different perspective. Wordsworth thought that poetic diction was unnatural full of artifice and aristocracy whilst his poetic language exuded nature and democracy,  “To Coleridge it seemed more like an issue between propriety and impropriety, congruity and incongruity. In effect he applied the classic norm of decorum,” according to Wimsatt and Brooks. The trouble with that theory is that etiquette, style and ideas of 'normal decorum' change down through the centuries so the theory and the language can become dated in their own right.

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