Age of Reason

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Age of Reason
1660 - 1780
I.
Introduction
 A. The late seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries in Europe were marked by a general
intellectual and literary movement known as
the Enlightenment. This movement was
characterized by Rationalism, a philosophy
that emphasized the role of reason rather
than sensory experience or religion / faith to
answer the basic questions of human
experience.
I. Introduction
 B. In this age, people were concerned with
manners and morals, understanding
themselves , their world, and their relations
with one another.
 C. This period was influenced by John
Locke’s Essay Concerning Human
Understanding (1690) which argued “Our
business here is not to know all things, but
those which concern our conduct.”
I. Introduction
D. This period was also stimulated by the
discoveries of Isaac Newton, whose
Principia, set forth the laws of
gravitation, and advocated the use of the
scientific method to test old theories
and develop new knowledge.
II. The Early Years (1660 – 1700)
 A. In 1660 the Puritan regime was toppled
and King Charles II took back the English
throne. This event became known as the
Restoration.
 B. The Restoration reinstituted the Anglican
Church as the established church, and the
Puritans were ousted from both government
and church positions.
II. The Early Years (1660 – 1700)
C. In 1662 Charles II chartered the
Royal Society which required the use of
the scientific method in all of its
investigations.
II. The Early Years (1660 – 1700)
 D. As a result of Charles II and James II
Catholic leanings, secret negotiations took
place allowing Protestant William and Mary to
take the throne of England. Because their
installment took place without bloodshed, it
was called the Glorious Revolution. As a
condition of their rule, they accepted a Bill of
Rights that limited the power of the crown and
reaffirmed the supremacy of Parliament.
II. The Early Years (1660 – 1700)
 E. For centuries London had been growing in
population and importance. It also suffered
two major disasters in quick succession:
 1. the Plague of 1665, which killed 70,000 people and
 2. the Great Fire of London in 1666, which lasted five
days, and resulted in the homelessness of 2/3 of
London’s population.
II. The Early Years (1660 – 1700)
F. In 1652, the opening of the first
coffeehouses in London provided a
place where men could meet their
friends, drink coffee, smoke and talk
about politics, social theory, business,
etc.
II. The Early Years (1660 – 1700)
 G. Major changes in literature took place
during these years:
 1.Ben Johnson’s use of classical models
 2.Love sonnets were replaced by satirical verses
aimed at correcting individuals and society
 3.Writing in general became less ornate
 4.Literary periodicals became the vogue for the
middle class
 5.In drama, actresses played female roles for the
first time
III. The Middle Years (1700 – 1744)
 A. After Queen Anne died without an heir,
George I, from the German Hanover line of
the Royal family, was installed and was
acceptable to Parliament primarily because he
was Protestant. With this change in the
monarchy, there was a growth in the power of
the prime minister and his cabinet.
III. The Middle Years (1700 – 1744)
 B. England’s two political parties at this time
were the Tories, who favored royal power and
the established Church of England, and the
Whigs who favored reforms, progress, and
parliamentary rather than royal power.
III. The Middle Years (1700 – 1744)
 C. The middle class moved into a position of
social dominance during the early part of the
century. The working class also grew as a
result of new jobs in construction, mines and
factories—all of which resulted in the
Industrial Revolution .
 D. However, the working class benefited little
from England’s new riches. In London the
inequality in the distribution of wealth was
appalling.
III. The Middle Years (1700 – 1744)
 E. The growing influence of the middle class
on literature, who were now able to read for
pleasure, caused new types of literary works
to be produced. Middle class readers
preferred to read about people like
themselves; so tragedies gave way to
realistic novels like Pamela and Tom Jones.
 F. Literary periodicals like The Spectator were
becoming popular with the middle-class
coffeehouse audience. They were written to
entertain readers at the same time improve
their morals and manners.
III. The Middle Years (1700 – 1744)
 G. Perhaps the greatest moralist of all was
Jonathan Swift His writings exposed and
ridiculed the social and political evils of the
day. In Gulliver’s Travels his chief targets
were governmental and personal hypocrisy
and vice.
IV. The Late Years (1744 – 1780)
A. George III took the throne in 1760 and
was the first Hanoverian English king to
be born in England and speak English
as a first language. Unlike his two
predecessors, he supported the Tory
party.
IV. The Late Years (1744 – 1780)
B. The great man of letters during this
period was Samuel Johnson. His
three major projects were:
 1.a comprehensive English dictionary;
 2.editing a complete edition of
Shakespeare’s works; and
 3.critical biographies of 52 English poets.
IV. The Late Years (1744 – 1780)
 C. Though many of the ideas and literary
styles of the Age of Reason lasted until the
end of the century, literary forerunners of the
coming Romantic age were visible in the late
1700s (namely, Thomas Grey whose writing
dealt with feelings, wild and natural
landscapes, and folk poetry of the common
people.)
Samuel Pepys
(1633 – 1703)
He was an important writer due to his private
10 year diary, which includes not only records
of public events (ex. The Great Plague and
The Fire of London), but also his most private
thoughts and actions.
Reading Pepys’ diary gives the reader a sense
of history in the making and then of Pepys’
reaction to it.
Samuel Pepys
(1633 – 1703)
 The Great Fire of London destroyed more than
13,000 houses, plus other buildings, including 89
churches.
 Miraculously, only 6 people died in the fire, but over
250,000 were left homeless.
 One positive outcome of the fire was that London was
never again struck by the plague because the fire
destroyed the rats that carried the disease.
Samuel Pepys
(1633 – 1703)
Literary Term:
Diary: a record of daily happenings written by
a person for his/her own use. The diarist is
moved by a need to record daily routine and
confess innermost thoughts. The diary makes
up in immediacy and frankness what it lacks
in artistic shape and coherence.
Samuel Pepys
(1633 – 1703)
 Note: Pepys’ diary shows that the Londoner’s
helped each other and generally remained calm
throughout this 17th century catastrophe. Merchants,
however, took advantage of the situation by
increasing their prices (price gouging). Compare to
contemporary tragedies and natural disasters
(Hurricane Andrew / 9/11 Disaster / Hurricane
Katrina)
 Neighbors helped neighbors
 People mostly remained calm
 Merchant prices hiked (Hurricane Andrew, but not 9/11 due to emergency
legislation and government warnings against price gouging).
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
1. From whom did Pepys first learn of the fire?
 He learned of the fire from Jane, his maid.
2. Where did Pepys first go to get a better view of the
fire?
 To the Tower of London
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
3. Look at the map on page 327. About how far is it
from Pepys’s house to the Tower of London?
 About 1/8 of a mile
4. As he is traveling by boat, what does he see people
doing with their belongings?
 They are flinging them into the river, or putting
them on small boats (lighters)
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
5. What does he write about the pigeons?
 He sees they are confused about leaving their
nests. Sometimes they stay too long, burn
their
wings and fall down.
6. What natural force drives the fire further into the city?
 The wind
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
7. He sees that no one is trying to put out the fire and
decides to go to Whitehall. How doe he travel there?
 By boat
8. He is called before the King and the Duke of York to
tell them what he has seen. What advice does he
give to the King?
 To tear down the houses that lie in the path of the
fire to try to stop the fire
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
9. How do you know that the King and the Duke of York
trust and respect Pepys?
 Because he is given commands from both to
deliver to the Lord Mayor of London
10. How does the Lord Mayor respond to the King’s
message?
 He says the people will not obey him; he has been
pulling down houses, but it does no
good; he
is exhausted because he has been up all night.
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
11. Pepys returns home, dines, and then goes out
again to observe the fire. When it is almost dark, he
returns home “with a sad heart.” Toward the end of
this day’s entry, what does he say he is forced to do?
 To begin to pack up his own household goods
12. What possessions does Pepys move to his cellar
and his office?
 He moves his money and iron chests to the cellar
and his bags of gold and papers to his office
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
13. Where does Pepys take his money and best
things? How does he get them there?
 To Sir W. Rider’s home; he gets them there by cart
14.What is a lighter and how does Pepys plan to use
one?
 A lighter is a small, flat-bottomed boat; he plans to
use one to take away the rest of his belongings
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
15. On September 4, how does Pepys protect his
papers, wine, and Parmesan cheese?
 He digs a pit and puts the things in it
16. What method is used to attempt to stop the fire?
 Blowing up houses and quenching whatever fire
remains after the explosion
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
17. What is referred to by “Paul’s” and what happens to
it?
 St. Paul’s Cathedral; it burns
18.When do Pepys and his wife finally leave their
house?
 September 5, early in the morning
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
19. What rumors about the origin of the fire have
arisen?
 That it had been started by the French
20. Are Pepys’s house and office burned? Explain.
 No. The blowing up of houses saves them.
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
21. What item does Pepys pick up from the street?
 A melted piece of glass from Mercer’s Chapel
22. What effect has the disastrous fire had on the cost
of housing?
 It raised the costs tremendously, because there
are so few houses left
From The Diary
by Samuel Pepys
23. According to Pepys, what dispute foretells the
rebuilding of London?
 The dispute over w here the custom house should
be built foretells the rebuilding of London
24. What qualities of Pepys’s have been revealed
through his actions during the fire?
 He is energetic and untiring in the disaster; he is a
valuable source of communication
because
he is accurate and trustworthy
Jonathan Swift
1667 – 1745
 1. Swift is England’s greatest prose satirist
 Prose - ordinary form of spoken or written
language, without metrical structure, as
distinguished from poetry or verse.
 Satire - the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the
like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice,
folly, etc.
Jonathan Swift
 2. Of his satire he wrote, “the chief end I
propose to myself in all my labors is to vex the
world rather than divert it.”
 Vex - to irritate; annoy; provoke/ to discuss or
debate (a subject, question, etc.) with vigor or at
great length: to vex a question endlessly without
agreeing. / to disturb by motion; stir up; toss about.
 Divert - to distract from serious occupation;
entertain or amuse.
Jonathan Swift
 3. Although his parents were English, he was
born, educated and spent most of his life in
Ireland.
 4. He became an ordained Anglican priest
and took a serious interest in Irish political
problems with England.
 Anglican Church is the Church of England (as
opposed to Roman Catholicism)
Jonathan Swift
 5. In 1724 he published a series of satirical
letters that seriously criticized an English plot
to devalue Irish currency. The English
government was so angry about the letters
that they offered an award of 300 pounds
($584.70) for the name of the author. No one
revealed Swift’s identity.
 6. Swift’s satirical masterpiece is Gulliver’s
Travels. He published it anonymously in
1726, and it became an immediate success in
England.
Jonathan Swift
 7. This story is written in the form of a travel journal
divided into four sections, each of which describes a
different voyage of the ship’s doctor, Lemuel Gulliver.
In each section he visits a different fantastical society
and records the facts and customs of the country.
 8. Through Gulliver’s adventures and observations,
Swift aims his savage satire against the English
people generally, the Whig party, against various
political, academic and social institutions, and
finally, against man’s constant abuse of his greatest
gift, reason.
Jonathan Swift

9. Swift observed and knew human nature
well. He loved people as individuals; but when
they changed into groups, he hated them,
satirized them, and tried to sting them into
realizing the dangers of the herd mentality.
Jonathan Swift

Literary Terms:
 Satire – literary technique that uses wit to
ridicule a subject, usually some social institution
or human foible, often with the intention to inspire
reform.
Jonathan Swift

Point of View – the vantage point from which an
author presents the actions and characters of a story.
The author chooses a particular point of view to
achieve certain effects. The major points of view are:
 a.First Person – I, me, my, we, us
 b.Second Person- you, your
 c.Third Person – he, she, it, they,
 1.Omniscient
 2.Limited Omniscient
 Gulliver’s Travels is told from the first person point of
view (i.e. Gulliver is the narrator of his travel journal).
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels

1. Where is Gulliver when the story opens?


On a ship that is anchored off an unknown island
or continent
2. Who appears to inhabit the island?

Giants
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels

3. What surprises Gulliver about the grass?


Its length of 20 feet
4. Gulliver recalls his adventures to Lilliput, the
country of the tiny people. What conclusion about
size does Gulliver make?

He concludes that “nothing is great or little
otherwise than by comparison.”
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels

5. One of the reapers finds Gulliver and takes him to his
master, the farmer. When they first see Gulliver, do the farmer
and, later, his wife believes him to be a rational creature?
Explain.

No. The farmer places Gulliver on the ground on
all fours, like an animal. The wife screams and
jumps back as if he were a toad or a spider.
 Later, yes, because they communicate.
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 6. Why do the King’s scholars believe Gulliver “could
not be produced according to regular laws of nature?

 They believe he has no means to defend himself
(something unheard of in nature), would
not
be able to get food for himself, and they don’t
know how to classify him.
 7. List three things that emphasize how small Gulliver
is in comparison with the people of Brobdingnag.

Smaller than a dwarf; attacked by wasps; flies,
etc
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 8. Why are the Queen’s eating habits disturbing to
Gulliver?

 She eats great amounts of food, bones and all,
with huge terrifying silverware

9. How does Gulliver spend the Sabbath with the
King and Queen?

He spends it telling the King of the “manners,
religion, laws, government, and learning of
Europe.”
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 10. What does the King find humorous about
Gulliver’s stories of his country?
 He finds it amusing that human life could be
imitated by ‘such diminutive insects’

11. What plagues Gulliver at Court and is a source of
fearfulness?

Great flies the size of birds
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 12. What does he attack with his sword?
 Wasps the size of partridges
 13. What is Gulliver’s most dangerous adventure at
Court?

His encounter with a monkey
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 14. How is he rescued?
 A boy climbs up, puts him in his pocket, and
carries him to safety
 15. What items does Gulliver make using the
Queen’s hair?

Two cane chairs and a purse
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 16. How is Gulliver able to listen to the
Brobdingnagian music?
 He can listen to the music only by moving his box
far from the concert and closing its
doors,
windows, and curtains
 17.How is Gulliver able to play the giant spinet (a
small upright piano)?

He runs sideways on the bench and hits the keys
with two specially built cudgels (kuhj-uhl] (a short,
thick stick used as a weapon; club)
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 18. Based on Gulliver’s stories, what qualities did the
King conclude were necessary for a legislator?
 Ignorance, idleness and vice
 19.To what does Gulliver attribute the King’s
conclusions about Gulliver’s country?

To the King’s relative seclusion and consequent
narrowness of thinking
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 20.What does Gulliver do to try to ingratiate himself
with the King?
 He offers to teach him how to make gunpowder
 21.What is the King’s reaction to Gulliver’s offer?

He is horrified, and says that an enemy of
mankind must have invented it.
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 22. What is it that Gulliver longs to see?
 The ocean
 23. What happens to Gulliver and his box while in the
care of the page?

The page leaves him alone and an eagle flies
away with the box. In a quarrel with another eagle,
the eagle drops the box into the sea near a British
ship. The box is picked up by the sailors and
Gulliver is rescued.
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 24.Gulliver attributes the King’s lack of interest in
making gunpowder to “narrow principles and short
views.” What does that reveal about the society
Gulliver represents?
 Gulliver comes from a society that is so obsessed
with dominion and control through violence that
Gulliver cannot imagine any other reasonable
alternative behavior.
A Voyage to Brobdingnag, from
Gulliver’s Travels
 25. How does that society contrast the
Brobdingnagian society?
 In contrast, the Brob. Society was characterized by
respect and loyalty to their king, who in turn was a
wise, nonviolent leader.
Samuel Johnson
1709 – 1784
 1. Samuel Johnson was a famous English
lexicographer (one who writes, compiles, or
edits a dictionary), essayist, poet, and
moralist, and generally accepted as the major
English literary figure of the second half of the
18th century.
 2. In 1738 he published his poem London,
which is marked with the pessimism that
pervaded his life.
Samuel Johnson
 3. Johnson’s core moral values and central
theme can be summed up as a strong belief in
the vanity of human wishes and the
impossibility of human happiness in an
imperfect world.
 4. Johnson’s literary style is balanced, pithy
(brief, forceful, and meaningful in expression),
and one of the finest examples of English
prose.
Samuel Johnson
 5. In person, Johnson was admittedly
slovenly, abrupt in manner and even rude.
He was often driven by fears of insanity and
damnation, and also suffered from
hypochondria.
 6. Yet the biography written about him by
close friend and colleague, Mr. Boswell,
shows Johnson to be a man of great kindness,
generosity and sociability.
Samuel Johnson
7. Johnson loved and cultivated the art
of conversation; he admitted that he
sometimes talked just for the sake of
victory over his verbal opponents in
men’s clubs and coffee houses.
From London
 1. What problem in the city of London does Johnson
cite in line 1?
 Crimes of all sorts are occurring in large numbers
 2. What is the only “crime” that is not “safe” in
London?
 Poverty
From London
 3. What is the effect of the repetition of “This, only
this” in lines 3-4?
 It emphasizes the author’s opinion that the
poverty-stricken are unfairly treated and even
punished
 4. According to Johnson, what are the “griefs…most
bitter” that must be endured by the poverty-stricken?
 They must endure scornful jests and insults of
others
From London
 5. To what class of society do the “blockheads” of line
12 belong, according to the poem?
 To the upper, wealthier classes
 6. Why does Johnson say, “Prepare for death, if here
at night you roam, / And sign your will before you sup
from home”?
 He says that because of the dangers of going out
into the London streets at night
From London
 7. Who are the “Lords of the street and terrors of the
way?”
 The “fiery fop” of Line 15 (a fop is a man who is
excessively vain and concerned about his dress,
appearance, and manners) and the “frolic
drunkard” of Line 17 are among those who make
the streets dangerous
 8. Who do the lords of the street prey upon?
 The poor
From London
 9. In lines 25 - 30, what danger at home does Johnson
identify for those who have survived the passage through the
streets?
 He says that it is not unlikely that one could be
murdered while sleeping by someone who
breaks into the house
 10.What official body does Johnson address in lines
33 – 36?
 The House of Commons; Parliament
From London
 11.What is the tone of these lines?
 Ironic
From the Dictionary of the English
Language
 1. What does Johnson reveal about himself through
his definition of dull?
 His sense of humor and the ability to laugh at
himself are revealed.
2. List at least two dictionary entries in which Johnson
makes political comments
 Excise, pension, pensioner, Tory, Whig
From the Dictionary of the English
Language
 3. What prejudice of Johnson’s is displayed in his
definition of oats?
 His prejudice against Scotland and its people are
displayed
4. Which definition carries an ironic reference to
Johnson’s work?
 Lexicographer
From the Dictionary of the English
Language
 5. Johnson calls gambler a cant word. What does he
mean by this? (Look up cant in the Glossary.)
 The peculiar language of a special group, using
many strange words
•6. How have the definitions of fun and lunch changed
since Johnson’s time?
 The word ‘fun’ is no longer considered a cant
word. ‘Lunch’ now means a light meal between
breakfast and dinner.
From the Dictionary of the English
Language
 7. What is the tone of Johnson’s definitions of
pension and pensioner?
 He uses an ironic tone for satirical purposes.
8.List at least two examples of definitions which
illustrate Johnson’s thoroughness.
 Alligator, bully, curtail, shrewmouse
From the Dictionary of the English
Language
9. Which dictionary entry is in error, according to the
footnote?
 Pastern
10. Look up the word itch in a current edition of a
dictionary. How does it differ from Johnson’s definition?
 Answers will vary
Letter to Chesterfield by Samuel
Johnson
 1. Who is Lord Chesterfield?
 The Earl of Chesterfield is one of the most
cultivated noblemen of the time. He has scholarly
knowledge of literature and language.
 2. What specific incident has prompted Johnson to
write to him?
 Johnson has learned that Chesterfield has recently
recommended his Dictionary to the
public
Letter to Chesterfield by Samuel
Johnson
 3. Did Johnson have reason to believe Chesterfield
would act as his patron? Explain.
 Yes. Chesterfield expressed his approval of
Johnson’s plans to write a dictionary. He indicated
he would give his support and financial assistance.
 4. How was Johnson treated when he tried to see
Chesterfield?
 He was treated badly. He received no
encouragement after speaking publicly before
Chesterfield and was refused private audience.
Letter to Chesterfield by Samuel
Johnson
 5. What statement does Johnson make in the second
paragraph that summarizes his feelings about
Chesterfield’s behavior towards him?
 “…No man is well pleased to have his all neglected
be it ever so little.”
 6. How does Johnson define patron in the letter?
 As “one who looks with un-concern on a man
struggling for life in the water, and, when he has
reached ground, encumbers him with help.”
Letter to Chesterfield by Samuel
Johnson
 7. What reasons does Johnson give for being indifferent to
Chesterfield’s support now that the dictionary is published?
 It has come too late. The people he would have
wanted to share it with are gone (he is ‘solitary’); he
has public recognition now, and doesn’t need it.
 8. What does Johnson desire the public to
understand about his work?
 He has accomplished it by himself, with no help from
a patron.
Closing Notes on the Age of
Reason
 Neoclassical / Age of Reason Ideas Shared by
Authors of the Era:
 1. Strong traditionalism; they distrusted radical innovention and
respected classical models of literature from ancient Greece and
Rome.
 2. They respected the classical rules of writing; considered
themselves craftsmen who paid great attention to detail; believed
the only way to have a chance at being excellent as writers was to
follow classical rules exactly.
Closing Notes on the Age of
Reason
 3. Poetry was believed to be a mirror of human life; human
beings (not nature) were supposed to be the subject matter for all
literature. Art was for the betterment of humanity (they rejected the
idea of art for art’s sake).
 4. Virtue was found only in avoiding extremes; man needed to
know his place in the “Great Chain of Being” – This ideal
manifested itself in highly structured literary styles (i.e. the heroic
couplet and the mock epic).
 キ
Heroic couplet - a couplet consisting of two rhymed lines of
iambic pentameter and written in an elevated style
 キ
Mock Epic - a parody of the epic form in poetry, often by
treating a minor subject seriously
Closing Notes on the Age of
Reason
 5. Found satisfaction in work accomplished to perfection.
 Key Words / Phrases




キ
キ
キ
キ
Highly structured
The purpose of literature was to teach (didactic)
Polished
Perfected

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