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Complete Poems, Keats, John
The Complete Poems, Coleridge, Samuel Taylor

Prose Fiction

Wuthering Heights, Bronte, Emily
Northanger Abbey, Austen, Jane
Possession, Byatt, A S

This material written by Colleen Walles, BA, DipEd, MA

Romanticism & John Keats
Romanticism & Coleridge
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Possession by A.S.Byatt

Texts and Ways of Thinking - Romanticism

Introduction to Romanticism

English Extension1, Module B: Romanticism, develops your ability to ‘explore and evaluate a selection of texts relating to a particular historical period’ (p.89. Syllabus Document).
You will choose three of the four prescribed texts listed for study in Romantics.

The Syllabus rubric requires students to develop their ‘understanding of the ways in which scientific, religious, philosophical or economic paradigms have shaped and are reflected in literature and other texts‘(p.89) You will need to evaluate the particular historical and the ‘influence of particular ways of thinking on literary and other texts’.(89) including other texts that reflect these ideas and explore ‘the ways that values are inscribed in particular and how they are reflected by the texts’ and’ whether and why texts are valued in their own time....and by whom those texts are valued today’(89)

The Prescription’s rubric requires must guide your approach to the texts and analytical and creative responses to assessment tasks and the HSC. The Prescriptions state:

In this elective students explore texts which relate to ways of thinking characteristic of Romanticism in the late 18th century. The Romantics valued the imagination, individualism and idealism. Romanticism is typified by the search for meaning through representations of the individual’s relationship with the natural world, and the wider social and political contexts. Texts related to this period examine or affirm the power of the imagination to inform, illuminate and transform human experience. Experimentation with ideas and forms may reflect or challenge ways of thinking during this period. (pg 32. English. Stage 6. Prescriptions. 2009-2012)

You should also read and view a wide variety of texts that can be considered as Romanticism and develop your ability to create and refine original imaginative, interpretive and analytical compositions in the HSC Extension 1 Paper. (p.89. Syllabus Document)

In your study of texts you evaluate:

Characteristics of Romanticism

Romanticism can refer to a literary type of text usually from the late 18th to mid 19th century. However, composers’ purposes and contexts result in texts conforming to or challenging characteristics of Romanticism. Northanger Abbey, Austen’s satirise of the influence of Gothic romances includes challenges to existing paradigms. A.S. Byatt’s Possession endorses Romanticism’s challenge to Victorian and contemporary the paradigms through the parallel narratives of two Victorian poets and their researchers.

Romanticism challenged the neo classical emulation of classical literature and valuing of order, reason, balance and restraint. Romanticism privileged:

(Adapted from Murfin, R. The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. p 352 Bedford Books. Boston 1998)

Religious Paradigms

Keats, Coleridge and Bronte value spirituality and a pantheistic vision of nature. The Romantics privileged eternal, savage and regenerative nature over conventional social and religious paradigms seen to deny spiritual freedom. Symbols of imprisonment; walls, doors and windows onto the open country, locked doors, open casements allowing tormented spirits to escape are dominant motifs. The protagonists and personas often seek liberty in nature, the imagination or death. The multiplicity of plots and complex narrative structure can reflect society’s response to the weakening of conventional religion and privileging of intense human relationships. ‘Such fiction was structured around the representations of overlapping consciousness, comprising a texture of inter-subjectivities‘. (O’Gorman, F. p. 219)

Scientific Paradigms

Instead of the Darwinian concept of the interconnections in the complex patterning of ‘inheritance, cousinship, mutual dependence’ (O’Gorman, F. p.250) ‘Wuthering Heights’ is a predominantly metaphysical novel focused on a ‘small, defined set of characters’ and the focus on individual interactions reflects a distrust of intrusion from outside the system including the influence of a Darwinian focus on the human subject and applied scientific procedures appropriate to chemicals to biological ‘human’ subjects. (O’Gorman, F. p.247)

Social & Historical Paradigms

Mechanistic science dominated philosophical debate and devalued religion. Composers like Coleridge, Keats, and Emily Bronte were among those who rebelled against some of the constraints of conventional religion and increasingly materialism linked to the rise of the merchant class. Political turmoil was rife: the French Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the American War of Independence, the Abolition of slavery and growing demands for equality and freedom included the status of women in patriarchal societies. The set texts share the motif of entrapment and the complexities of human life.

Philosophical Paradigms

Instead of the needs of the community dominating the individual’s needs and experiences, Romanticism valued individualism. Freedom of thought, action and rejection of social restraints are common to Bronte, Keats and Coleridge. However, the texts also address the less attractive characteristics of individualism such as the individual’s right to ignore the well being of others including the wider community as seen General Tilney in Northanger Abbey, less obviously Hindley and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and Cropper in Possession.

Similarly, idealism as representing the primacy of ideas, thought and language in defining the universe is explored by Austen, Coleridge and Byatt. The complexity and ambiguity of Coleridge’s Kubla Khan reflects contemporary philosophical debates and Byatt uses interdependent and intersecting narratives in Possession to explore the power of language to define, interpret and reinterpreting the world and lives of Ash and La Motte.

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Responding to the prescribed texts

Refer to the Syllabus requirements, Prescription rubric and HSC Markers’ comments. Remember the reception of Romanticism has been subjected to contextual influences and the influence of literary theorist over the years.

Integrate the ‘how’ of the language in your comments on narrative structure, characterization, setting, mood, themes, pace and tension. HSC Markers regularly remind students to critically analyze language and concepts and evaluate how texts represent concerns. The more sophisticated, informed and fluent students demonstrate control of their own language, detailed knowledge of set texts and perceptive choices in their related material that they integrate and interpret in response to each question.

The creative writing component of the HSC exam should also reflect an extensive knowledge of Romanticism, set texts and independent research in original, imaginative responses to the question. Prepared answers rarely have the sophistication or relevancy required for Extension 1.

Mind Map of Romanticism

Mind map of romanticism

Prescribed texts & characteristics of Romanticism

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Romanticism & John Keats

Keats and focus areas in Romanticism

Keats and focus areas in Romanticism


Keats’ poetry challenges the historical, social and scientific paradigms of the late 18th century in England and Europe. His reflections on the complex relationship between truth, art, pain and loss capture Romanticism’s ‘Anti historical, counter-social impulse that remains extremely important to Romantic lyric’ (Chandler J, McLane, N.p. 23.)


The poems express Romanticism’s valuing of concrete individual experience, imagination and nature. Like Coleridge, he rejects the formalities of Augustan, neo classical verse glorifying militaristic exploits and experiments with form and language including mythical figures as symbols of sexuality. Keats’ style reaffirmed of the influence of the ‘Cockney School’ a socio political group led by Leigh Hunt.

Romanticism’s focus on individual experience and celebration of beauty in art and nature informs his acceptance of isolation and suffering as inevitable enables Keats to counterbalance despair with affirmations of life and beauty in Nature in his own form of Pantheism and a sensual response to Nature and art which is the antithesis of materialism.

Keats’ self analysis provides the dynamic energy for transitions between passivity,
melancholy and a longing for escape to reaffirmations of the immediate and concrete life. Nature becomes an anthropomorphic figure of Greek myth such as Psyche who shares human characteristics. Sensory responses to objects provide the ‘dualism of the static object and dynamic effect. (Sandbank p. 52)

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La Belle Dame san Merci

La Belle Dame san Merci
La Belle Dame Sans Merci – Arthur Hughes 1861-63
http://www.flickr.com/photos/yak23flora/3929355763/ (external website)

Romanticism’s valuing of the supernatural and medieval legend is represented by the ballad form, dramatic pauses, haunting presence the lady and plaintive repetition of the refrain. Keats pseudo-medieval English, simple stanza form, plot and the trope of the dream explore the relationship between illusion and reality as Coleridge does in The Ancient Mariner. Unlike objective traditional ballads of courtly love, the lady is symbolic of death, the poet identifies with the knight and Keats’ fairy world is a metaphor for the dangers obsessive focus on an idea or individual.

The structure characteristically reflects tensions between real and imagined worlds and the sequence of questions provides the quest and chivalric world with immediacy. The reality of death intrudes in the frequent theme of fleeting human love is captured by single syllables creating uneven rhythm and dramatic dialogue. Romanticism’s focus on supernatural and disturbed states of mind is personified by the sensuous lady.

Similarly excitement and sensuality hint at the intensified focus on the supernatural and Keats creates a characteristic tension between the ideal of imagination and reality, suffering and death. Language captures the idealized love but imagination provides no lasting escape.

Bright Star
The bright star in the sonnet can be a metaphorical conceit for the appeal and danger of fickle, female sexuality as in La Belle Dame. Keats identifies with the evening star and the symbolism is organic in the octave even when he rejects isolation and identification with nature. He implicitly contrasts the sublime and eternal beauty of nature to human life and individual freedom. The sestet privileges concrete over abstract but undermine notions of permanence by paradoxical passivity and a downward movement to acceptance of loss and death.

Ode to a Nightingale
The nightingale’s song is symbolic of nature and imagination as antidotes to human suffering. The structure captures tension between escape, oblivion or death and reaffirmation of life as sensuous pleasure and beauty. Prosaic details contrast the reality of aging and illness to the bird’s imagined freedom captured by poetry.

The imagination through language transforms the English Spring countryside and the bird’s song into idealisations of nature. Keats next depicts his internal conflict in desiring death and responding to the beauty of the bird’s immortal song. Conflicting directions in the closing stanza reflect Romanticism’s central paradigms, acceptance of isolation but celebration of individualism, nature and art.

Ode on a Grecian Urn
The Urn and poem are artifacts, motifs for immortal nature and imagination but separated from their human creators. Nature, objectified through decoration is a means of communication. The idealized lovers young, beautiful and forever in love is undermined as they are frozen in time and their satisfaction is challenged. Keats contrasts two opposing positions, one valuing the idealized past captured by art, the other immediacy and sensuous joy in living despite loss and pain. (Ford. p. 320.)

Reconciliation of disparate ideas reflects the central tension and ‘the perfection of the possible’, human suffering and the value of imagination and idealisation through art (Ford. p. 323.)

Romanticism’s focus on lived experience informs the pattern of silence and loss that challenges the insistence of this idealised happiness and suggests the beauty of the urn, like the song of the nightingale
provides a valued but transitory escape from reality.

To Autumn
Keats’ celebrates Nature while accepting the transience of life. Symbolic of unity Autumn, preceding Winter and death in the natural cycle, is abundant in beauty and richness. Autumn is personified as young, careless, sensuous then tired from her labour and lastly a patient watcher reflecting the power and immediacy of Nature and the imagination.(Wu. D. p333)

Imagination and nature enable Keats’ acknowledgement that the ideal and real are inextricably linked. Imagination momentarily reconciles the tensions by transforming Autumn into a mediator easing transition between life and death.

To Lord Byron
Keats’ direct address identifies with Byron a suffering poet and asserts the power of imagination and art to provide relief from reality and immortality. Grief is transformed into beauty by imagination. Keats’ suggests Byron shares his negative capability and ability to transform suffering through the imagination. The poet’s song transcends morality like the nightingale and swan and imagination is an antidote to human suffering.

Fancy explores notion of escape through the power of the imagination seen even as superior to even pleasure in nature which is linked to satiation and impermanence. Imagination reconciles binary oppositions and central tensions between the reality of death and decay and idealism and imaginative escape. Thematically linked to Coleridge’s Lime Tree Bower and Kubla Khan.

On the Sea
Sonnet form contrasts the sublime power of nature and human suffering and hints at nature’s supernatural power. Keats offers idealization of our relationship with nature through language and the imagination.

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Analysis of Text and Language – Romanticism & Keats

Comment on:

When responding to the prescribed texts – see introduction

Student activities


Value Example: Techniques Quote
La Belle Dame sans Merci
Imagination Fairy world as metaphor for dangers of obsessive on idea or individual. Supernatural and medieval legend in ballad form, dramatic pauses, repetition of refrain. Lady symbolises death. palely loitering ....no birds sing
Sequence of questions, quest, personification of death, disturbed states of mind is by the sensuous lady links to Wuthering Heights. Her hair....true.
Supernatural, sensory imagery in last four stanzas, knight’s dream. Ah!....thrall!
Tension, cyclic structure represents acceptance of reality. I saw... wide/..why I......sing.
Bright Star
Nature Sonnet identifying with evening star and nature. Contrasts nature and life, values nature, individualism. Symbolic use of snow as metaphor for death. Not in ....Eremite

The moving... moors.
Individualism Privileges lived experience, contrasts opposes dynamic energy to the impersonal Pillow’d... unrest’
Concluding sestet, closing couplet with repetitions of ‘still’ heighten tension. Inevitable loss, death downward movement. Still...death.
Ode on a Nightingale
Nature /Individualism Structure, intimate tone, onomatopoeia, connotations reflect tension in desire to escape suffering, joy in nature and beauty in nightingale’s song. My heart ... sunk.
Mood change from despair to freedom in nature and beauty in upward movement, sensory imagery, repetition of ‘happy’ in lines 5and 6. light winged....dryad of the trees’
Individual experience, sensuous pleasure valued in detailed, sensory imagery as antidote to suffering. full throated....mirth.

Upward movement of escape contrasted with reality, onomatopoeia. Suffering is inevitable, imagination and art represent freedom Leave ....dies/...for I..Poesy
The imagination transforms the English Spring countryside through language .Shakespearean quatrain, Petrarchan sestet, iambic trimester in eighth line suggest freedom in rhythms of the bird song. soft incense...eglantine..’
Nature Change of direction – nature preferred to escape of death include connotations and abrupt conclusion. half in love...Bird!
Nature/Imagination/Individualism Symbolic use of nightingale’s song, biblical allusions. The voice...corn
Nature/Imagination/Individualism Tension between reality and imagination in conflicting directions of closing stanza. faery ..elf.
Ode on a Grecian Urn
Nature /Imagination Urn and poem motifs for nature and imagination objectified forms of communication Sylvan...fringed
Idealisation/Individualism Paradox, irony of idealised immortal lovers unable to enjoy their passion.
Structure - address, question and reflection structure contrasts precise syntax describing urn and lovers, symbolic of two opposing positions, lived experience and idealized past.

Thou still... historian
Imagination/Idealism Accelerated rhythm in urgency and contrast of successive questions represents central tension What gods... ecstasy?
Paradox of music captured in plastic art, silent but eternal. Heard melodies... are sweet ...play on.
Individualism Repetition, symbolism of silent town and sacrificial heifer undermines ideal.
Change of mood and sensory imagery focus on suffering challenges denial of lived experience.
happy, happy ..
all breathing.... human passions high above ...tongue/
Beauty.... know.
To Autumn
Nature Central symbol in structural progression towards unity is feminization of Autumn as celebration of Nature despite threat of Winter. .sitting careless... the hours
Nature Rhetorical questions, apostrophe, personification -contrasts Autumn’s richness and fruition with Spring’s mutability and loss. Melancholy mood, tonal shifts express tensions. Where are... lives or dies.
Imagination/Nature Autumn symbolic mediator between life and death. bloom ... day.
To Lord Byron
Individualism/nature Direct address, alliteration and personification focus on imagination as refuge from reality and source of immortality.
Link to odes in symbolic use of music, apostrophe and personification.
Byron! .....die
Individualism, imagination Sensory imagery, allusions simile, symbolise grief alleviated by imagination and beauty and suggests similarity between poets. a bright ....glow.

Still warble...woe.
Imagination, Idealism Structure of rhyming couplets, personification, alliteration, use of verbs and symbolism represent imagination as escape. Ever let... soar.
Freedom, imagination are valued above sensuous pleasure:
  • Verbs ‘roam’ ‘wander’ ‘open’ ‘dart’ and ‘soar’, sensory imagery, personification.
  • Negative connotations of ‘spoilt’ ’fades’ ‘cloy’.
  • Rhetorical question, sensory imagery, onomatopoeia
Summer’s... tasting.

What do then?

Imagination Dramatic and imperative tone, binary oppositions, personification, emphasise imagination as source of unity. When... send her!
Listing of sensory imagery represents power of imagination. buds .... May;
Imagination/Nature Destructive passage of time -onomatopoeia, subtext, symbolism, repetition, symbolism, rhetorical questions, downward energy of final stanza. the snake ...by use:

Where’s the maid... oft?
Imagination/Idealism Classical allusions re enforce the power of imagination as an escape over connotations of reality. Ceres daughter, Jove, silken leash, prison string.
Let ... home.
On the Sea
Nature Sonnet form. Octave and final couplet focus on immortality of nature, contrasted with human suffering in sestet. It keeps... sound.
Enjambment of first half of the octave and classical allusions, alliteration, symbolic link between eternal motion and life death cycle. Connotations, onomatopoeia add urgency. ...whispering, desolate, gluts, shadowy sound, spell of Hecate.
Nature Contrast, personification, repetition of sibilant ‘s’, adjectives in next four lines suggests nature restores life. Often.... fell...
gentle, smallest.
Nature/Imagination/Idealism A direct address, imperative voice, the apostrophe in sestet offer idealised nature and myth as escapes from reality. eye-balls ....melody.
Sit ye.... quired!
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Romanticism & Coleridge

Coleridge and focus areas in Romanticism

Coleridge and focus areas in Romanticism


Coleridge’s poetry rejects neo–classicism and Augustan poetic style and privileges the central paradigms of Romanticism: individual experiences, nature and idealism with imagination functioning as a mediator with reason to achieve unity. Influenced by philosophies of Platonism, Burke, Kant, Locke, Hartley and new German idealism Coleridge’s poetry also reflects Christian Pantheism and mysticism. His poetry reflects changes in his philosophical beliefs including challenging emerging values of the merchant class, ‘…evil was the product of civilization and private property’ to deciding government must be based on inequality and private property. (Ford. p. 278) However, Coleridge underwent many shifts in and as he, he decided

Although Coleridge became increasingly outraged by the carnage of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s tyranny in Europe his experimental with poetic style mirrors the revolutionary tide in Romanticism’s political paradigms. Coleridge used language as ‘a new source of freedom’ an ‘….interlanguage that combines the transcriptions of standardized English with certain select archaisms (such as the widespread use of “thou”...), and distinctive personal twists’ (Chandler J, Mc Lane M p. 86)


All four of prescribed poems address Romanticism’s central paradigms: Frost at Midnight’ and ‘Lime Tree Bower my Prison’ belong to the conversational group ,intimate domestic monologues, Kubla Khan and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner belong to the daemonic group, visions of sublime mystical relationships with Nature and the imagination. The texts share the motif of a magical quest never fully achieved: forgiveness by and reunion between the poet’s self-consciousness and a divine spirit, most obvious in the daemonic group. The conversational poems reflect the desire to return to an elusive, idealised state of freedom through suffering.

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Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Possibly the most famous of Coleridge’s poems The Ancient Mariner epitomizes Coleridge’s frequent and complex philosophical shifts.

Religious paradigms of Protestantism and Catholicism, the Albatross and Mariner both assume Christ like roles. The Marnier’s sin is expiated by eternal suffering and prayer, retelling his dreadful warning.

Nature, sublime and holy is contrasted with destructive humanity. A victim of intensifying delusions and horror, he blesses the sea snakes in an intuitive act of virtue, not intentionally.

Christian Pantheism:
All life is holy and the metaphysical, supernatural worlds are central to the nightmare of storm and redemption.

Coleridge engages the reader intellectually and emotionally with metaphysical elements tointegrate Romanticism’s complex philosophical debates and morality.

Form & Rhythm
Coleridge adaptation of traditional medieval literary stanza structures and rhythm add credibility.

Repetition of the final syllable of the fourth line in each stanza twice before the repetition of the whole line is the most common structure.

The intrusion of five or six line stanzas distorts the established stanza pattern to emphasize shifts from reality to the supernatural.

The narrative begins realistically through the traditional stanza form until the twelfth stanza, the Wedding Guest, against the back drop of the country kirk rejects the Mariner although reality continues to dominate. As the nightmare develops Coleridge intensifies the power of the supernal andsatirizes society in the crew’s failure to understand or value Nature: they praise the Mariner for dispersing the fog by killing the bird only to condemn him for it later.

Traditional four line stanza structure and rhyme scheme a b c b eases the tension suggesting normality is restored. When nightmare begins the tension and distortions escalate: seven in Part 3, six in 4, ten in 5 and eight in 7.

Coleridge reverts to strict ballad form in the final four stanzas when the spell is broken. The distorted form is most pronounced in Part 3 in the stanzas where the spectre- bark intrudes between the Mariner and the sun and Nature becomes an avenging force allied to the supernatural. (Coffin, T. P p. 440 )

Here are all the elements of Romanticism:

Coleridge’s links real and supernatural events to manipulate and disorient the reader in preparation for the Mariner’s redemptive harmony with Nature which is further intensified by the intrusion of the seraphic voices.The dialogue between the First and Second voices that introduce Part V1 dramatizes the supernatural and mystical forces in Nature and is linked to the call and response pattern of the Mariner’s self questioning and the dialogue between the Wedding Guest and the Mariner. The terror culminates in the sinking of the ship and the madness of the Pilot’s boy.

Reality returns with the wedding and Coleridge’s re affirmation of Nature and the individual experience in Romanticism.

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Kubla Khan

Coleridge explores Romanticism’s centralizing of imagination and individual experience in the poem’s structure the Preface, the two visions, the body narrated by an omniscient unknown narrator (lines 1-36) and the final eighteen lines as an epilogue together refer to aesthetic activity and loss of vision through the damsel’s song and the poet’s dream. The prose preface is a distancing device to focus on the creative process; the role of the unconscious in art and the power of memory. (Wu. D. p.127)

Personas or imagination?
The “I” of the poem is a personification of the imagination not a distinct persona; the poem originates in a ‘profound sleep’ and the poet’s visionary power belongs to the imagination therefore his control is limited. (Wu. D. p.128)

Landscape and Imagination
In the body of the poem Coleridge identifies the primary and secondary imagination through the metaphor of landscape: the Khan’s created, architectural landscape (lines 1-11) is a metaphor for the secondary imagination in art and culture that create new materials from perceptions of the natural and uncontrolled landscape (lines 12-30) The chasm and the fountain become symbolic of the creative processes of the unconscious.

If Coleridge’s concern with unity and harmony between man and nature informs the ambiguities and blurring of distinctions between separate personas and landscapes, then ideas and natural objects are fragments which contribute to a greater whole. Without the mediation the imagination and nature vision is lost and only fragmented memory remains

(Wu. D. p.136-7)

Summary - Imagination – unity, art and nature
Coleridge is ambiguous in:

If we accept the poem’s complex, enigmatic character, the closing section as with the final stanza in the other poems, represents a level of conscious control and reflection on the relative contributions to art of idealization, imagination and the unconscious to the complexities of perception, creation and response to art.

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The Lime Tree Bower

The anecdotal, confessional style in this conversational poem is as artificial as the supernatural imagery in The Ancient Mariner or Kubla Khan. Coleridge, his friends, garden and lime tree are the idealized harmonious community freed by Romanticism’s valuing of individual experience, Nature and the imagination from materialistic 18th century social and philosophical paradigms.

Like Keats, personal experience, memories of loss and isolation are catalysts for reflections expressed as contrasting moods. The language resembles the daemonic poem in his isolation but self pity changes to participation in his friends’ freedom through imagination and nature which have transformed his small community of friends through a deeply religious communication and unity with Nature.

Individualism and idealism symbolise the poet as intermediary united with his friends in intuitive celebration of the Almighty Spirit in Nature. The concluding lines resemble those of The Ancient Mariner in returning to normality transformed by the idealised, imagined world of Nature when Coleridge shares Charles’ imagined reaffirmation of Romanticism central paradigms.

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Frost at Midnight

Coleridge adapts the ballad’s call and response to a silent listener, the baby and poet father. Individual imaginative experience most active in childhood is central and the speaker contrasts his childhood confined in the city with the future freedom of his sleeping child. Their ideal unity belongs to imaginative unity with the universe.

Coleridge’s observation of the fire flickering values individual experience, representing a profound spiritual unity between humanity and Nature mediated by imagination. The domestic situation captures Coleridge’s idealized perception of spirituality unity and harmony in his narrowed focus on the film of ash.

The second stanza privileges the unconscious state and equality as he does in the Mariner’s trance and the visions in Kubla Khan. Memory of isolation returns his focus to his child who will benefit from his love and unity with Nature informed by Christian Pantheism.


Analysis of Text and Language – Romanticism & Coleridge

Comment on:

When responding to the prescribed texts – see introduction

Student activities

Poem Example: Techniques Reference/Quote
Lime Tree Bower
Nature/Imagination/ Individualism Anecdotal, confessional style, hyperbole, irony in description of isolation. Well,…meet again….
Mood change, sensory imagery, onomatopoeia, repetition and dynamic verbs suggests intuitive response to nature’s harmony and beauty. …roaring…still roaring dell…tremble still
Imagination/Individualism Symbolism, contrasts shift to positive mood in Stanza 2 glorifying nature, rejecting materialistic paradigms. …emerge…shadow.
great City…pain.
Nature/ Imagination Binary opposition of light and dark, spiritual and sensory experience of Nature through the imagination. …So my friend…presence.
Nature/ Imagination/Idealism Symbolism, binary opposition represent poet as intermediary in celebration of supernatural in nature. Almighty…flower!
Imagination/Individualism/Nature/Idealism Variations of archaic pronoun ‘thou’, ‘thee’, thy’, apostrophe, fragmented rhythm, frequent pauses endow reality with mythic significance. Nature ne’er…Beauty!
Frost at Midnight
Individualism/Imagination. Emotional change represented by ballad form - call and response, variation in rhythm, imagery contrasts past restrictions of city with child’s present and future freedom.
Verbs, symbolic use of fire contrast fragility of life with unity in nature.
This populous…village!…quivers not
Individualism/Nature/Idealism Alliteration, onomatopoeia, symbolic identification with nature in narrowed focus on the insubstantial. Idealized perception of spirituality unity. that film…Thought
Individualism/Nature/Idealism Rejection of 18th century social paradigms – humour, contrast, sensory imagery privileges emotion, imagination and nature. old church –music.
Individualism/Nature/Idealism Repetition, direct speech, cyclic structure, symbolism celebrate unity with Nature But thou…mountain.
…all seasons…quiet Moon.
Ancient Mariner
Nature/Individualism Christianity: Biblical allusions, symbolism, direct speech Albatross and Mariner Christ like roles. O shrive…free.
Pantheism: Contrast between nature and humanity, sensory imagery, evocative verbs. Beyond…fire
Christian Pantheism: symbolism, evocative verbs, simile O happy…the sea.
Imagination/Nature Traditional stanza form and direct speech in Stanzas 1-12 provide credibility of ballad. Hands off!…loon!
Repetition, rhyme creates contrast with supernatural power although reality dominates early stages of journey. He holds…will
Commencement of the voyage dominated by reality in a b c b rhyme.Threat is suggested by the triple repetition of the a rhyme. prow, blow, foe, head, blast, fled.
Imagination Increased distortions of structure, variations in tone, juxtaposition and irony intensify mood of developing nightmare. For all…blow!
Nor dim…mist.
Imagination A false sense of reality returns marked by traditional four line stanza structure and rhyme scheme a b c b.
Approach of climax represented by escalation of distorted stanza structures, repetition, alliteration, symbolism and rhymes in Part 3, 4, 5 and 7 as the phantom ship and crew mesmerise the mariner.
The western wave…sun.
Individualism/Nature/Imagination Real killing identified by contrasts between traditional a b c b stanza of the real and violent killing and with distorted stanza form when Nature and the phantom ship avenge the sin.
Archaisms, direct speech, sensory and Gothic imagery and mood, rhetorical questions, accelerated pace, distortions in stanza structure escalate tension.
Are those…cold.
Individualism/Nature/Imagination The climax of the supernatural events represented by repetition, rhetorical questions, direct speech, shifts from present to past tense, black humour, Gothic horror, most marked distortion of the stanza structure a a b c c b d d b “’The game…thrice.’

We listened…tip.
Imagination/Individualism Coleridge rejection of 18th century mechanistic thought and social paradigms is represented by links between real and spectre ships and crews: variations in distorted stanza form creates structural and narrative links contrasting real and imagined.
Dialogue between the Mariner and the Guest eases tension juxtaposed with accelerated pace of stanzas 7, 9. Gothic mood, intrusion of supernatural in stanza 13 represents power of supernatural and nature. Regular stanza form and mood return to normality in stanza 14 when the bird falls into the sea and sin is forgiven.
This re occurs when the spirits of the dead crew are transformed - repetition, alliteration.
Sure my…sea.

Sweet sounds…by one.
Imagination/Individualism/Idealism The Mariner’s surrounded by but not harmed in idealised unity between Nature and humanity - onomatopoeia, alliteration, evocative verbs, symbolism. hundred…wide.
Imagination/Individualism/Idealism/Nature Spiritual unity with nature spirit-Albatross: symbolism, comparison of sky-lark and angel’s songs, onomatopoeia, alliteration sibilant ‘s’ links sound of sails and water in brook. Under…to go.
Imagination/Individualism/Idealism/Nature Dramatised dialogue between the First and Second voices, call and response pattern blend mythical, scientific and supernatural. blend in the response that introduce Part V1 dramatizes the supernatural and mystical forces in Nature and is linked to the of the Mariner’s self questioning and the dialogue between the Wedding Guest and the Mariner. First Voice: What…abated
Imagination/Nature Contrast between distorted stanza form in supernatural horror and realistic sinking of ship and madness of the Pilot’s boy. Symbolism, animal imagery, onomatopoeia.
Return to normality in wedding and thematic affirmation of nature.
….The planks…young.

He prayeth…loveth all
Kubla Khan
Individualism/Nature/Idealism Structure of prose Preface as distancing device focusing on the creative process, two visions, body narrated by an omniscient unknown narrator and epilogue of final eighteen lines centralise imagination and loss of vision. Individual emotional, intellectual journey linked to experience and vision.

Symbolic use of vision of the Abyssinian maid, her dulcimer and song, the sunny dome, caves of ice suggest power of imagination.

Symbolic use of first person pronoun as imagination.

Dream allegory contrasts conscious and unconscious states – poet: visionary, recorder, reader.

18th century social paradigms and reductive reader satirised in the Person on business from Porlock.

Ambiguity suggest dominant role of the unconscious in the process of creation and response.

Paradox of poet and ideal reader consciously, intuitively refining the vision.
all the cry…curiosity’
Nature/Imagination Repetition. Evocative use of and onomatopoeia verbs evokes the sublime power of nature interpreted by the power of the poetic imagination. haunted, wailing, seething, vaulted, flung, meandering, sank.
Symbolism in sacred river Alph, the power of the unconscious. Sacred…Alph, cavern…man.
Imagination/Individualism Repetition. Damsel, Mount Abora, the power of the imagination, ambiguous –metaphysical relationship between poet, reader and vision. Kubla Khan a controlling influence. A damsel…floating hair
Idealism/Individualism/Imagination Power of language to create ideal unity between humanity and nature. Xanadu as utopia -symbolism, adjectives, Gothic elements. lifeless…]chasm –
a savage…ice
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Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Jane Austen

Mind map of Romanticism in Northanger Abbey

Mind map of romanticism in Northanger Abbey

Romanticism, Northanger Abbey & Austen in 18th to early 19th century England.

Northanger Abbey satirizes the popularity of gothic romances and excessive imagination but Austen also less obviously satirizes the lives and values of the high bourgeois and the social and historical paradigms of 18th century patriarchal society: Her women, limited to education in domestic arts and supervising their households depend on male relatives for financial support. A young woman’s duty was not to develop an informed, analytical mind but to attract a wealthy husband, assume a passive role within marriage. Even Catherine, after resisting the General’s veiled offers of wealth finds happiness in marriage and a comfortable living.

How does Northanger Abbey reflect the values of Romanticism? As a parody of a Gothic novel it must include Gothic conventions and concerns. Is Austen’s endorsement of social mores an ironic subversion social paradigms? Certainly Austen’s sustained analysis of acts of reading and the relationship between art and literature encourages readers to form critical and independent opinions: authorial intrusion, representation, exaggeration and silences satirize foolishness in individuals and society. (Murfin, R. p 357)

Northanger Abbey encourages reader to consider a compromise between the extremes of Romanticism and the privileging of reason and abstract thinking in Classicism. Austen does adopt Romanticism’s concern with subjugation of individuals especially women and challenges patriarchal society’s use of polar oppositions. Austen’s irony, wit and parodic stance suggest ‘the possibility of personal freedom and happiness’ through mutual respect instead of adopting ‘concealment, repression and accommodation’ (Smith. L. p.9)

Austen’s Catherine achieves limited autonomy and control through self knowledge and within marriage just as the second Catherine, united with her equal in Hareton finds fulfilment denied to the previous generation in Wuthering Heights. Catherine Morland acquires control of her unruly imagination and excessive emotions but Austen satirizes the imbalance in social standards for female and male misbehaviour. Frederick and John retain their pride Isabella is humiliated and loses both suitors. Therefore, Austen’s romantic resolution of marriage is not a cry of despair or an unquestioning endorsement of the status quo. These marriages represent what can be achieved.

Style and Structure
Austen’s focus on the minutiae of higher bourgeois life in country England and Bath is not Romanticism but the realism of daily life unlike Wuthering Heights. Henry criticizes Catherine’s heated imagination, fired by Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho and Gothic Romances. He reminds her of social reality and explains his mother’s death. Austen satirizes of Gothic conventions, readers such as Catherine and contemporary society in the imagined hidden passages, mysterious manuscripts, locked cabinets and murders at Northanger Abbey. Austen’s uses language, shared intertextual knowledge and common context to engage her readers as when she warn against duplicity mocking Isabella’s fickle flirtation with Fredrick. Dramatic irony and verbal irony assume readers share Austen’s values as expressed by Henry and Eleanor Tilney, her moral yardsticks. Situational irony structures the plot as when the picnic Catherine enjoys with the Tilneys is juxtaposed with the failed outing shared by James and the Thorpes.

Plot summary
Catherine Morland’s rite of passage begins with her journey from Fullerton’s country rectory in Wiltshire with Mr and Mrs Allen to Bath where the Thorpes’ plot to trap Catherine and James into financially advantageous marriages. Isabella’s plots to trap Frederick Tilney into marriage or lure James back through Catherine’s intervention fail. General Tilney’s plot to lure Catherine to Northanger Abbey and secure her supposed fortune for his son is discarded for a plot to destroy their union.

The final parody of a Gothic plot is Catherine’s journey home followed by Henry Tilney’s unexpected arrival, their marriage and future at Woodston’s Parsonage. Austen’s repeatedly integrates prosaic details as a contrast and counterbalance to fevered imaginations.


Catherine Morland
Archetypal heroine of a Gothic romance, an inexperienced, impressionable seventeen year old Catherine is also the naive reader. She lacks judgement and restraint, accepting the calculating Isabella as mentor. Catherine also instantly identifies benign but didactic Henry as her hero. Austen satirises Catherine’s impetuous behaviour but endorses her loyalty, instinctive independence of spirit and enthusiasm.

Henry Tilney
Henry shares his values with Austen and Catherine’s family but he is a product of his context. His tutelage of Catherine, including his use of parodic language and linguistic play confuses Catherine at first by undermines the distinction between real and imagined. When Henry creates a collage of several Gothic novels and invites Catherine to share his presuppositions, he implicitly encourages her reading of Northanger Abbey as a Gothic novel.

Catherine’s developing sense of self enables her to resist his game playing: she counters his moves when he collapses the difference between a dance and marriage, claims that Frederick’s flirtation with Isabella is justified and presupposes that the sameness of Bath bores her.

Eleanor Tilney
Powerless as any Gothic heroine, Eleanor is isolated and trapped in a socially sanctioned prison, victim of her father’s tyranny. Inter textual references to Gothic authors Radcliffe, Burney and Edgeworth shape Eleanor’s characterisation but her knowledge of London riots and her sensible opinions in dialogues with Catherine and Henry represent her as a moral yardstick. Austen’s realistic representation of the friendship between Catherine and Eleanor sensible initiatives: Eleanor lending Catherine money and Catherine corresponding with her despite Tilney’s unexplained hostility.

James Morland
James is a two dimensional character and a plot device. His infatuation and disillusionment with Isabella contribute to Austen’s satire of social paradigms. Austen reveals the Catherine’s judgment and integrity through her defence of her brother and rejection of Isabella’s manipulative efforts to marry him.

Isabella Thorpe
Austen’s satire of superficial pleasure seekers, Isabella is beautiful, fashionable and calculating. She is the product of a social values Romanticism rejects that fail to value education or financial independence for women and implicitly endorse sacrificing integrity for financial benefit. Her superficial interest in novels, theatre or social issues equates to a guide’s tour of Bath. She falls victim to Frederick, a better game player.

John Thorpe
Foolish, boastful and avaricious, John is a plot device contrasted with Henry. He lies to Catherine and tricks her into breaking an arrangement with the Tilneys. Austen uses his mock abduction to satirise Richardson’s villain in Camilla which like Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho forms the inter text of the novel. John drives the plot complications by lying to General Tilney first about Catherine‘s financial expectations from the Allens and then exaggerating her lack of fortune.

General Tilney
General Tilney is a Gothic villain but his tyranny is a realistic representation of 18th century paradigms; dominating his children, controlling his sons’ fortunes and marriages. Austen juxtaposes his sycophancy when he thinks Catherine is an heiress with the cruelty of her dismissal. Austen’s use of indirection shifts the focus to Catherine’s lurid fears but invites readers to interpret his and Isabella’s machinations through intertextual links to Gothic villains and calculating, sexually exploitive females. Austen also satirises rapacious and image conscious improvers with details the guided tour of his Abbey and lands.

Frederick Tilney
Frederick is a two dimensional character and a plot device to reveal Isabella’s materialism.

Mrs Thorpe
Mrs Thorpe is a victim of a society that leaves widows impoverished and reliant on her children’s successful marriages to save her family from ruin although Austen satirises her failure to guide her children.

Mr and Mrs Allen
Mr and Mrs Allen are also two dimensional figures and plot devices. Mrs Allen, pleasant but selfish and superficial is pleased to find Mrs Thorpe is less successful than herself based on the value of their lace.

Mr and Mrs Morland
Sensible and loving, they are the ideal parents in a realist novel. They appear at the start and end of the novel as Catherine’s haven of normality and comfort.

Additional Notes on technique

Austen’s settings represent the tension generated by the comfort and security of the known and the inescapable imprisonment on which it entails. (Monaghan. D. 1986) Bath’s claustrophobic, crowded ballrooms oppress Catherine, as does John Thorpe’s proposal. Nature offers a refuge in General Tilney’s gardens when he tries to secure her rumoured fortune for Henry.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaybergesen/3269840535/sizes/s/ (external website)

Auerach also defines Catherine’s marriage as making her a slave’s slave, doubly imprisoned by Henry’s financial dependence on a father already enslaved by materialism and conservative attitudes. This narrative structure reflects the pervasive and potent imprisonment characteristic of Romanticism.


‘Sense’ assumes an undertone which undermines individual freedom and fulfilment especially for women. Romanticism’s use of the doppelganger and the existence of doubleness are represented by social paradigms ‘of the double face of male authority’. (Monaghan. D. p.20)

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Characteristics of Romanticism– Northanger Abbey

Analysis of text and language in Northanger Abbey

In your analysis of Northanger Abbey make sure to comment on:

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Northanger Abbey - Romanticism – page references

Character, Setting, Event, Language
Example – Quote Page
Individualism Catherine in Bath’s Upper Rooms, a ball. Parodic exaggeration of Gothic entrapment, realistic satire of women’s lack of freedom. ‘….less of ….
through them’.
Individualism As above. Romantic conventions in Catherine’s interest in Henry.
Realistic satire of contextual social paradigms. Henry as intellectual mentor. Catherine’s intuitive resistance to linguistic games and suppositions. Wit, irony, contrasting voices in dialogue.
‘Have you …. so much’.
‘We have …with them’
Individualism Bath, Upper Rooms, Isabella Thorpe, conformist, anti heroine. Duplicitous, superficial mentor. A victim of social and historical paradigms. Voice, characterization, pace, tone, ironic authorial intervention. ‘Their con-versation… as friend.’
‘The two dances… her son’
Individualism Catherine’s refusal to break appointment with Tilneys values manners. Realistic dialogue, hostile tone, authorial intervention, situational irony. “Do not ….another? 94-101,
Individualism Contrasting letters: James’ simple statement of Isabella’s infidelity, her insincere, hyperbole to secure Catherine’s intervention. Internal monologue, Henry and Catherine’s dialogue endorses her condemnation of Isabella. ‘Dear …&etc’

‘My dearest… Who ever am…& etc’.

Individualism/Imagination Gothic parody. Catherine’s escape from successive plots. Satire social paradigms – marriage as economic transactions. Voice, situation irony. “Well…oak’. 132 -134
Individualism/Imagination Satire of social paradigms- superficial, limited education in characterization of Thorpes. Authorial intervention, irony, dialogue, pace. Catherine introduction to Gothic fiction by Isabella. Foreshadows Catherine reading life through a Gothic inter text. ‘I am no …endure it’.

‘My dearest ….young men

Imagination Inter text, satire of Gothic. Henry, mentor and linguistic game player. Voice and setting satirizing Romanticism’s valuing of nature and supernatural. ‘Yes, but ….dress’. 149-154
Imagination Neo classical social, historical paradigms. Satirical use of setting, excessive imagination - Catherine’s Gothic reading of her chamber, internal monologue, parody, humour, exaggeration, anti –climax. ‘A moment’s…fast asleep’. 155-161
Imagination As above. Catherine reading of locked doors and passages through Gothic inter text. ‘Miss Tilney…
Imagination As above- Henry and Catherine’s dialogue, her internal monologue of self condemnation ‘The day… use’. 181-189
Idealism /Imagination Henry- ideal male, knowledge of Gothic novels satirizes John’s stereotypically male prejudice against fiction. Development of lover’s mutual understanding – ideal compromise. Contrasting voices, playful tone.
Satire of social and historical paradigms in Catherine’s naïve view of history, education. Juxtaposition, humour in Eleanor misinterpreting Catherine’s reference to latest Gothic novel
as violent riots in London.
‘I never look ….she did’. 103-109
Idealism/ Individualism Isabella’s pretended indifference to money. Dialogue - parodies social interaction. Love, marriage as a trap. Irony of situation, dialogue, authorial intervention.
Valuing of Romanticism’s rejection of materialism.
‘Yes….gown’ 114-115
Idealism/Individualism Captain Tilney, contrast to Henry, male counterpart of Isabella, game player. Variation on Gothic villain. Satire of double standards. Authorial irony. Situational irony – dialogue, Henry correctly interprets Frederick and Isabella’s games. Ironic language condemns Isabella’s values in discussion of James’ financial prospects. Realism, satire of social paradigms. ‘Having heard…kindness’. 125-130
Henry, ideal hero, defies father’s tyranny, lovers are reunited. Re-affirmation of Romanticism. ‘Mr Henry…Fullerton.’ 225-231
Idealism Morlands’ response to the marriage represents ideal compromise - marriage of emotional, intellectual affinity if not equality. Authorial irony, dialogue, voice. Satire of materialistic social paradigms. Catherine’s future in a country parish replicates her past. Gothic intertext suggests an ironic example of imprisonment, marriage to the dependent of a tyrant. ‘There was…filial disobe-dience. 232-235
Nature Society’s corrupting influence. Satire of John’s machinations to secure Catherine’s supposed fortune. Tone, irony of situation, dialogue, contrasting voice, authorial intervention. Old Mr… sobriety

62, 66-67
Nature Satire of Isabella’s insincere love of peace and nature. Thorpes’ excursion into nature at Bristol and Blaize Castle ploys to undermine Tilneys. Mock Gothic kidnapping in John’s carriage. Techniques as above. Oh! I am …months. 83-86
Nature /Idealism Catherine’s dismissal from Northanger Abbey justifies Romanticism’s individualism. Ironic condemnation of Tilney as realistic and Gothic villain, a microcosm of social paradigms. Eleanor and Catherine’s realistic dialogue and relationship affirms restraint. My dear…for herself. 209-222
Nature /Imagination Satire of social improver exploiting tenants -Tilney’s greed and vanity. Juxtaposition of his pomposity and materialism. Voice, tone, Catherine’s good sense values nature and Henry. And when…Remarkable.
They set…family.
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Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

Mind map of Romanticism in Wuthering Heights

Mind map of Romanticism in Wuthering Heights

Romanticism, Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte in 18th to early 19th century England.

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Wuthering Heights is dominated by Bronte’s experience of the Yorkshire moors. Her knowledge of literature and conflicting Victorian religious and social paradigms was substantial and informs the passionate longing for freedom, even spiritual freedom that drives Catherine and Heathcliff. Bronte rejected Austen’s valuing of neo classicism and the negative individualism that valued economic man, reason and abstract concepts associated with economic progress and satirized in Austen’sGeneral Tilney. Bronte adopted Romanticism’s valuing of individual freedom, idealism and sublime nature valuing emotion and knowledge through experience with the author as a guide. (O’Gorman. F. p.151)

‘Wuthering Heights’ combines Romanticism, Gothic conventions, realism and social satire. Bronte’s ‘rhetorical strategy is to establish several layers of mediation’ for realism. (O’Gorman, F. p.108)

Unlike Austen, Bronte’s criticism of contemporary social and religious paradigms is overt in privileging characters who challenge paradigms of high bourgeois society and condemning weak, vicious or vengeful patriarchs who repress women:

Style and Structure
Bronte challenges the reader to judge her characters and their action independently of the Victorian social paradigms by disrupting the narrative’s linear chronology and shifting perspectives between narrators.
The narrators contribute to ‘prioritization of the Gothic as an element of non-realism’ (O’Gorman, F. p.134) and provide a filter for evaluating the extreme emotions and supernatural elements in the narrative.

Contrasts in tone represent Bronte’s challenge to Victorian paradigms and privileging of Romanticism.

Plot summary
Romanticism’s privileging of individualism informs Bronte’s two interconnected narratives:

The next cycle begins with:

Wuthering Heights
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Catherine Earnshaw-Linton
Catherine’s characterization is realistic except for her metaphysical identification with Heathcliff and the moors which she needs to survive. Readers can accept the villagers’ superstitions of haunting instead of Lockwood’s obtuse claim that all the inhabitants of Pennistone Crags’ graves sleep peacefully.

Hindley Earnshaw
A two dimensional character, Hindley has elements of Gothic villain, a bully and coward from childhood seen in his abuse of Heathcliff.

Frances Earnshaw
A two dimensional character, her death in childbirth is a plot device in precipitating Hindley’s moral and physical decline. Her spiteful treatment of Heathcliff contributes to Hindley’s alienation and encourages the reader to partially excuse his villainy.

Victorian paradigms of class are challenged in the chronology of Heathcliff’s life: homeless waif, pet, outcast servant. Far more complex than Romanticism’s Byronic hero, the mutual love between him and Catherine transcends romance, shapes their identity and conquers death.

Edgar Linton
A positive two dimensional character, weakling compared to Heathcliff’s strength and savagery. A structural device, Edgar’s love for Catherine is sincere but limited.

Isabella Linton- Heathcliff
The Gothic conventions of entrapment shape Isabella’s life at Wuthering Heights and futile efforts to influence Heathcliff.

Hareton Earnshaw

Catherine Linton – Heathcliff
Romanticism’s heroine with Gothic overtones, Cathy lacks Catherine’s power.

Edgar Heathcliff
Edgar’s unsympathetic character lacks Linton’s positive qualities and represents Romanticism’s condemnation of social and historical paradigms endorsing marriage as a financial prison for women.

Mr and Mrs Earnshaw
Two dimensional characters and plot devices. They represent the status quo threatened when Earnshaw saves Heathcliff.

Mr and Mrs Linton


A plot device. She saves Lockwood from the storm to expose him to the haunted chamber, and reveal his cruelty and cowardice.

Nelly Dean
A former inmate of Wuthering Heights, the voice of reason and filter for the supernatural haunting, shifts in her narrative tone and style mirror Lockwood’s polysyllabic, educated language and conflict with her status as a country servant.

Mr Lockwood
Negative Victorian paradigms personified and Bronte’s satire of the bourgeois in Austen. Lockwood is a distancing device and ironic filter for the narrative.

Additional Notes on technique

Gothic realist supernatural in plot and setting. The house is an extension surrounding moors: deep set windows, open kitchen admired by Lockwood, offer comfort without a barrier to nature.
The location of the supernatural ‘real’ in the novel represents the binary oppositions of ‘inside and outside, prison and liberation, body and soul, life and death’ (Hogle, J. E p. 162.)

The supernatural prevails as Lockwood discovers and Heathcliff knows:

Characteristics of RomanticismWuthering Heights

Analysis of text and language in Wuthering Heights

In your analysis of Wuthering Heights make sure to comment on:

When responding to the prescribed texts– See Introduction

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Relationships in Wuthering Heights

Romanticism– Wuthering Heights - page references

Character, Setting, Event, Language
Example –Quote Page
Individualism Lockwood fallible narrator, satire of negative individualism. ‘He is ….of one. 6
Individualism As above – Juxtaposed with Heathcliff and Hareton, Lockwood is petty. Ah your… respect it 12-16
Individualism Satire of social prejudice, Heathcliff’s arrival …you must… surname 42-43
Individualism Satire of social prejudice. Frances’ influence in Heathcliff’s degradation. A few…creatures 53-54
Individualism /Idealism As above – Heathcliff’s recount of first encounter with Lintons, endorses his early loyalty and honesty. Contrasting settings. Doubling of characters. Situational irony in Heathcliff’s innocence and failure to recognize the power of wealth and status.
Dialogue, voice, symbolic use of setting, motif.
Cathy… Impossible 55-60
Individualism /Idealism/Nature Catherine’s jubilant reunion juxtaposed with her insensitive criticism of Heathcliff’s appearance foreshadows betrayal and contributes to patterning of the novel in their reunion before her death. Nelly’s condemnation of Frances, Hindley and Edgar privileges Heathcliff. Foreshadows him as Gothic villain. ‘is not… pain’. 62-71
Individualism/Imagination As above. Hindley as Gothic villain. You must… hear. 45-46
Individualism/Imagination Satire of Victorian paradigms. Disrupted narrative and multiplicity of voices. Catherine’s mockery of Hindley and Joseph. An awful…
Individualism/Imagination Juxtaposition of the women’s relationships with Heathcliff foreshadows Isabella’s fate. His brutal honesty mitigates overt ambition and revenge. Gothic violence includes Nelly’s description of Catherine’s rage, decline and death. How… destroy.

And as… tramped in.

Individualism /Idealism/Nature Satire of conventional religion in Joseph’s voice and dialect. Nelly as biased insider. Gothic extreme emotions, satire of negative individualism. Metaphysical, immortal unity between Catherine and Heathcliff. Voice, situational irony, symbolic use of nature’s seasons juxtaposed with immutability of rocks. Today… through 90-103
Individualism/Imagination Gothic supernatural, Lockwood’s dream. Satire of social values – his savage cruelty to the ghostly child. , Motif of Gothic doppelganger- potential for evil in everyone. Black humour, melodramatic language. I began… compre-hension. 26-33
Individualism/Imagination Gothic extremes of emotion – Hindley’s degradation. Nelly’s narrative mitigates Heathcliff’s future vindictiveness and Catherine’s betrayal. Juxtaposition advantages Heathcliff over Edgar. For himself…
Individualism/Imagination Gothic extremes of plot – Hareton’s near death and Heathcliff instinctive rescue identifies him with nature. Doppelganger, failure of conservative Victorian paradigms. There… befall him 86-89
Individualism/Imagination Gothic plot, villain– Heathcliff’s hanging of dog, the elopement. My surprise…
Individualism/Imagination Isabella’s letter – ironic narrator, Gothic victim, villain Dear… Isabella 159-171
Individualism/Imagination Heathcliff’s monologue – Gothic villain but brutally honest. -You suppose-pain 175-179
Individualism/Imagination Gothic conflict between Hindley, Heathcliff and Isabella. Isabella and Nelly as narrators. Black humour in Joseph’s dialogue. Isabella’s flight and death. Heathcliff… 209 -216
Individualism/Imagination Gothic convention – death of Heathcliff. It is… too. 378-392
Individualism/Idealism Doubling of Hareton, Heathcliff. I could …combinations 232-233
Individualism/Imagination Gothic conventions. Heathcliff, Gothic villain, Cathy and Linton forced marriage. Motif – imprisonment Catherine walked…Before 316…324
Individualism/Imagination Idealism Byronic hero, Heathcliff returns. Nelly’s admiration contrasts the men. Gothic emotions in former lover’s ecstatic reunion. Metaphysical love in Catherine’s belief she and Heathcliff are one entity. Nelly… angel. 108-116
Idealism/Individualism Lovers’ final reunion. Gothic conventions. Romanticism’s focus on freedom. As above - Heathcliff’s response to Catherine’s death. Nelly restores unity with the locket. ‘He did …me’

‘He was… Together’.

Idealism/Imagination /Individualism As above -Heathcliff’s dream, preparation to be united with Catherine in the grave. Metaphysical union. ‘I’ll tell… Subject 338-340
Idealism/Nature Conclusion, unity. Doubling, symbolism of civilization (flowers) replacing yeomen heritage. Education, compromise restoring balance. Lockwood as outsider. Before…studies. 359-360
Nature Setting, Wuthering Height’s interior, kitchen. One step …shade 5
Nature Savagery of nature, dogs as motif, cruelty and savagery, linked to Heathcliff, Hindley and Catherine. Not anxious…
Nature Old Earnshaw’s death, storm on moors, nature foreshadowing chaos. Situational irony - Catherine and Heathcliff"s innocent grief. Duality of human nature, Romanticism’s purity of natural man. A high…
Nature Catherine, destructive force of nature. Nelly ignoring doctor’s warnings foreshadows Catherine’s death. Old … contradict her. 103-104
Nature Symbolic use of nature in relationship between Lintons and Catherine. Metaphor, rhetorical question. It wash… Indifference. 107
Nature /Imagination/Individualism Catherine’s delirium, nature as a refuge –Motif of windows. Gothic madness, melodrama, haunting, supernatural. Place – supernatural, Wuthering Heights, monologue. Tossing… followed me. 143-149
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Possession by A.S.Byatt

Mind map of Romanticism & Possession

Figure 1: The past

Mind map of Romanticism and Possession - The Past

Figure 2: The present

Mind map of Romanticism and Possession - The Present

Romanticism, Possession by A.S.Byatt - early 19th century and 20th century England and Europe

Context/ Text

Style and Structure
Counterpointing of Victorian and modern academe in England and America reveals complex conflicts between dominant paradigms and Romanticism’s privileging of imagination, individualism, idealism and nature as enduring values. The sophisticated structure of mystery-detective novel patterns the text through interconnecting narratives, mirroring characters, multiple examples of creative and historical texts encourages the reader to join the quest for truth and knowledge central to Romanticism and reveals significant similarities in social and sexual repression between Victorian neo classicism and contemporary postmodernism.

Plot summary
A fragmented narrative of illicit romance between Victorian poets is incrementally revealed by contemporary researchers and documentary evidence structured by a quest motif which involves a parallel romance.



Roland Mitchell (p 9-11)
Anti-hero of present narrative in 20th century London, a self effacing part time literary researcher of Victorian poet Randolph Ash, ‘……trained in post-structuralist deconstruction of the subject’. His transformation into a poet is precipitated by his discovery and theft of Ash’s two unsent letters to a mysterious lady. This introduces the quest motif leading to Maud Bailey. Byatt develops their romance as a counterpoint to the complications and conflicts in the second narrative; an illicit romance between Victorian poets Ash and LaMotte.

Roland’s rejection of materialism and commercial success endorses Romanticism’s valuing of positive individualism and his commitment to language, literature in pursuit of knowledge reflects idealism. Three offers for work overseas and unexpected academic success at the end of the novel, enables the happy ending of romance but safeguards the lovers’ commitment to autonomy and the postmodern critical thought. Roland’s transformation into a poet in the lush sensory imagery of the forbidden garden endorses the centrality of nature, idealism, individuality and imagination.

Maud Bailey
Byatt mirrors Maud Bailey’s character as English feminist academic with LaMotte through physical resemblance and commitment to autonomy. Implicit in her success and LaMotte’s relative obscurity is the repressive social and historical paradigms of Victorian society. Byatt uses the inter-textual reference to Keat’s Lady of Shallot in the scholar’s discussion of LaMotte her isolation was imposed while Maud chooses isolation.

Maud links to LaMotte include extreme paleness and green accessories which re enforce inter textual inks the Melusina myth and poem, the Gothic and the
supernatural on Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci.

Randolph Henry Ash
Ash is characterized as a minor Victorian poet, stylistically linked to Browning. He epitomizes conflicting paradigms of Romanticism and Victorian England. Ash’s marriage to Ellen is a microcosm of Victorian propriety and devotion due to literary analysis of Ellen’s journal. Ash’s love for Ellen and passion for LaMotte authenticates his character and endorses Romanticism’s valuing of emotion and individual experience.

The quest motif with the literary detectives-researchers validates the centrality of text and context in critical debate and reflects Coleridge and Keats’ arguments that imagination and individuality are central to understanding and knowledge.

Byatt explores conflicting Victorian paradigms through Ash’s imaginative and scientific responses to Nature in the complex fusion of Platonic critical thought and mechanistic scientific process in his collection of specimens and interest in myth. Romanticism’s valuing of language and imagination is central to discovering truth: The Garden of Proserpina and his contributions to La Motte’s Melusine.

Christabel LaMotte
Byatt’s characterization of LaMotte is influenced by American poet Emily Dickinson and reflects the constraints address by Austen and Bronte as creative artists in a patriarchal society. Like Bronte’s Catherine, LaMotte’s passion and rejection of societal constraints end tragically.

Her creative life is curtailed by childbirth and like the fairy Melusina she endures exile and isolation while Ash retains respectability and his wife’s devotion. Like Coleridge and Keats’ belief in the immortality of art and power imagination, LaMotte’s grandson and Maud share her values and poetry.

Minor characters


James Blackadder (p.27-31)
Blackadder’s ‘Ash Factory’, buried in the British Library is a gentle satire of literary theorists. A plot device, and stereotypical scholar, who has lived vicariously through Ash, he recommends Roland for the academic posts that free him to become a poet.

Beatrice Nest (p. 31, 112-119)
Byatt’s satire of discrimination against women, Beatrice is a stereotypical scholar-researcher into Ellen’s journals. Disorganized and humble Beatrice accepts a subordinate role like older women in Austen.

Fergus Wolff (p. 32- 34)

Unsympathetic, predatory and superficial Wolff is Maud’s sometime lover, a deconstructionist and Roland’s academic nemesis. Wolff sets the quest in motion by referring Roland to Maud, who associates their affair with ‘stained and rumpled sheets’.

Mortimer Cropper
Cropper is the antithesis of Romanticism, plot device and stereotypical American entrepreneur competing for Ash memorabilia. The antagonist in the quest, he is obsessed by artifacts and self promotion. He is a satire of materialism, superficiality and ‘possession’.

Leonora Stern
A formidable bi-sexual American feminist academic.

Blanche Glover

LaMotte’s tragic companion, considered her lesbian lover. Blanche’s as a ‘superfluous person’ validates Austen’s adherence to Augustan social paradigms. An impoverished spinster, unsuccessful painter and rejected lover, Blanche’s jealousy, madness and suicide are realistically portrayed and endorse Romanticism’s valuing of imagination and individualism modern readers take for granted.

Ellen Ash
Considered a Victorian wife par excellence, Ellen is revealed by her journal and authorial intrusion as an intelligent woman whose frigidity and acceptance of a subordinate role left her potential unexplored. She is a plot device in the alienation of the lovers, a victim of rigid Victorian paradigms, perhaps a Victorian mirror of Val.

Val and Euan Mcintyre. (p. 11-14, 124-5, 413-417)
Both characters contribute to the improbable resolution of the complex romance plot. Val, embittered and soon Roland’s ex girl friend, is an ironic example of modern female self- effacement by financing Roland’s pursuit of academic success. Frustrated by her ‘menial job’ as a casual office worker, she is transformed by her relationship with a solicitor, Euan. A plot device, he facilitates the resolution between the feuding academics.

Sabine De Kercoz
LaMotte’s young cousin whose journal reveals the pregnancy and birth of La Motte’s child. A narrative device and extension of the prejudice against female writers, includes female complicity in patriarchal repression as Sabine shifts from hero worship to jealous condemnation.

Sir George and Lady Joan Bailey (pp 69, 73, 76-77, 81-85)
Impoverished British aristocracy in Lincoln in Yorkshire descendents of Ash. Stereotypical characters, plot devices for discovery of the letters.

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Additional Notes on technique



London – flat (p 17-18)
The claustrophobic, rank basement shared by Roland and Val epitomizes the city life rejected by Keats, Coleridge and Bronte. Byatt’s sensory imagery to describe the forbidden, luxuriant garden reflects Romanticism’s valuing of nature.

British Museum - Reading Room and ‘Ash Factory’ (p 26-27)
Claustrophobic city setting, Blackadder’s office located in basement is an endorsement of Romanticism’s valuing of nature and imagination - ‘insufficient oxygen’, ’the Inferno’, ‘sunless Egyptian necropolis’, ‘The Ash factory…. Shrieks’, parody gothic imprisonment.

Maud Bailey, Lincoln University Oxford (p 39-43)
Tennyson Tower, contributes to Byatt’s postmodern pastiche: Romanticism’s favouring of intuitive intelligence and imagination as mediator between Nature and humanity, distrust of neo classicism. ‘Lincoln….plaque’. ‘They went... beneath him’, ’The Lincoln….fish-tank’.

Maud Bailey – home (p.56)
Antiseptic, reflective – link to Melusine in sensory imagery.

Rowan Tree Inn and Graveyard – (pp 487 -495)
Parody of Gothic Romanticism and quest motif, humour and Postmodern pastiche. All the plotters stay at the inn during the final confrontation. Description of the inn and grave digging include Gothic convention of Nature in chaos and climactic storm. ‘A kind of dull …. desperately.’…….The air ….backyards’


Coast of Yorkshi
See imagery in LaMotte’s Melusine, The City of Is and Ash’s Ragnorok.

Seal Court, Lincoln Yorkshire, family home of Sir George (pp 69, 73, 76-77, 81-85)

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Motifs of individualism

Reflect conflicting philosophical and scientific debates: Victorian England and Romanticism.

Monochromatic colour

Ash tree – Edenic garden - motifs of nature

Postscript –motif ofnature, idealism, individualism

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Narrative and thematic devices:

Texts - Microcosms of Victorian paradigms and Romanticism

Stolen letters – sympathy for silenced female voices

Ash’s letters to Ellen

LaMotte’s letters to Mrs Cropper

Glover’s Letter to Ellen


Sabine de Kercoz

Ellen Ash

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Characteristics of Romanticism– Possession

Analysis of text and language in Possession

In your analysis of Possession make sure to comment on England between late 18th and early 19th century and the influence of Romanticism: imagination, individualism, idealism and nature:

When responding to the prescribed texts – See Introduction

Student activities:

Romanticism– Possession - page references

Imagination, Individualism,
Example –Technique
Character, Setting, Event,
Quote Page
LaMotte’s reworks the Breton myth in epic of female creativity, art, motherhood- The Fairy Melusine. Female desire, autonomy punished by exile. Mirrors Bronte’s Catherine.   266,
289 –298
Individualism Our Lady – Bearing – Pain. Lyric. Catholic religious imagery- metaphor for childbirth, loss, symbolic linked to spilt blood spilt milk, white, 381-382
Individualism Post childbirth LaMotte’s struggle for autonomy- Le Minier’s letter to Stern: shorn hair, skeletal frame and pallid skin. Journal symbolic of social condemnation. She is white… hollows 377
Included in letter to Ash
The Riddle, egg as metaphor fragility, regeneration, death- fate of women. Ironic tone foreshadowing represents Victorian social paradigms. And this… Mortality 137
Poetry and prose
The Threshold repetition offairy tale, oral tradition. Linked thematically to Glass Key - quest motif, supernatural, female sexuality – Keat’s La Belle Dame. Privileges imagination, emotion above materialism, scientific mechanisticphilosophies. ‘As to…heath’

Imagine ..moon.
Poetic prose
The Glass Coffin. Interrupts the narrative, oral tradition, intertextual links to female imprisonment.
Quest motif, rejection of materialism, valuing of magic. Irony, symbolism: glass key, forest, coffin. Sensory imagery.
The black…hound. 67
Idealism The Thicket is Thorny power of language, thought as challenging patriarchal restraint. Gothic entrapment. Filaments …strand! 35
Nature /Individualism The City of Is, Gothic ballad, links to Coleridge’s daemonic poems. Irony, tide symbolic of social condemnation. Pattern of contrasting modern and Victorian paradigms The red blood… red.

The ladies…Bones
134 -135
Nature /Individualism The City of Is, Gothic, links to Melusina, Keat’s La Belle Dame. Motif of imprisonment, repressed female sexuality. Bewitched… rise. 331
In certain moods we eat out lives away Metaphysical reflection: love, loss, imprisonment, vulnerability. Romanticism’s objective details in art, pursuit of freedom, knowledge. And we…Air… 476
Individualism/Idealism Mummy Possest – dramatic monologue. Satirises Victorian mystics, exploitation, superstition. Victorian social, religious, scientific paradigms. Fuses mechanistic, empirical science and Romantic idealism. The force… flickering

I need …hurt?
Individualism/Nature Ragnorok - epic fusion of Christian and Norse creation myths. Romanticism’s valuing of experimental form, individualism, Nature. Uneven stanza form, lack of rhyme, vibrant sensual imagery. Central motif ash tree, symbolic of symbol life. Three ases.... Time.

And as…faces.
Imagination Swammerdam –adopts Coleridge’s monologues to silent listener, quest motif. Thematically linked to Coleridge’s fusion of myth, Christian Pantheism, freedom and harmony contrasted with Victorian philosophical and scientific debate. Bend…tonight.

202 –209.
Imagination /Idealism Lyric. Garden of Proserpina –myth, legend, quest motif, sublime nature. Romanticism’s pursuit of truth, beauty through nature, myth, legend. Pursuit of greater truth through art. At…theft

The first …gold
Nature The Incarcerated Sorceress, - Romanticism’s centrality of nature, art, myth in The old…fear? 68
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Brown, D.B. (2001) Romanticism London
Chandler, J. McLane, M. (2008) The Cambridge Companion to British Romantic Poetry
Fergus, J. (1983) Jane Austen and the Didactic Novel. Macmillan Press.London
Ford, B. (1982) The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. From Blake to Byron. Vol 5. Penguin. London
Hendich,T. The Oxford Companion to philosophy. Oxford
Hogle, J. (2002) The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Cambridge
Monaghan, D. (1986) Jane Austen in a Social Context. Macmillan. London
Murfin, R. (1998) The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms. Bedford Books. Boston
O’Gorman, F. (2002) The Victorian Novel, Blackwell. Oxford.
Smith, L. (1983) Jane Austen and the Drama of Woman. Macmillan. London
Wu, D. (1995) Romanticism, A Critical Reader. Blackwell. Oxford

Coffin. T.P. Coleridge’s Use of the Ballad Stanza in the “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. Modern Language Quaterley. Dec.51. Vol 12 Issue 4. p.437- 446
McCarthy. T. (1981) The Incompetent Narrators of Wuthering Heights. Modern language Quarterly. No 42. p. 48-64. Sandbank, S. Keats, (2002) Altered by the Present. Comparative Literature. Vol 35. Issue 1.

Benedict, B. Reading by the book in ‘Northanger Abbey’
www.jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol20no1/benedict.html (external website)
Bloom, H. Thematic Analysis of ”Ode on a Grecian Urn”
http://search.ebscohost.com./login.aspx (external website)?
Chinn, N. “I Am My Own Riddle” – A.S. LaMotte: Emily Dickinson and Melusina
http://webcohost.com./lrc/delivery?vid (external website)
Galef, D. Keeping One’s Distance: Irony and doubting in Wuthering Heights
http://webcohost.com./lrc/delivery?vid (external website)
Gitzen, J. A.S. Byatt’s self-mirroring art
http://webcohost.com./lrc/delivery?vid (external website)
Hampson. T. I Hear America Singing ROMANTICISM
(http://www.pbs.org/wnet/ihas/icon/romanticism.html (external website))
Hermansson, C. Neither Northanger Abbey: The Reader Presupposes
http://webcohost.com./lrc/delivery?vid (external website)
Jeffers, J.The White Bed of Desire in A.S. Byatt’s Possession
http://webcohost.com./lrc/delivery?vid (external website)
Jones, R. Romanticism
www.philosopher.org.uk/rom.htm (external website)
Paulman Kielstra, J. (1998) Jane Austen, ‘Northanger Abbey’
(external website)Shinn,T. ‘What’s in a word?’ Possessing A.S.Byatt’s meronymic novel.
http://webcohost.com./lrc/delivery?vid (external website)

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