To what extent do literary texts represent the 'reality' of the period in which they were created? Discuss concerning TWO texts on the module
Trailing the evolution of literature all through the scholars shows the group of works that were done during the particular timeframe and distinguished it as a movement or a period. The evolution of literary texts that reflected respective times that were created includes Renaissance Literature, The Enlightenment, Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Victorian Literature, Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, Bloomsbury, Group Existentialism, and Beat Generation (Online-literature.com, 2018). The periods experienced various forms of inventions and introduction of different forms of arts and works of literature that are still treasured and studied at the present day. The periods represented different centuries from the ancient to the modern times. Different literary forms play a significant role in representing the "reality" of the period that they were created. The different philosophers who expressed their ideologies had a varied literature form of expressing them to reach their targeted audience and to bring out their theme clearly and concisely (Sybilisticism.tripod.com, 2018). The following essay seeks to refer the sources, Moll Flanders and Keats's Poetry and Prose, they to bring a profound understanding of how the literary texts have played a role in representing the 'reality' of the period that they were created.
About the two books, Moll Flanders and Keats's Poetry and Prose, they are aimed at differently showing the reality of different times of how people viewed life and interacted with one another around the time they were being composed. The interest in these literary texts will be about the theme brought by the respective author and poet, literary devices used and the characteristic of the age they represent. The period that they represent needs to be different from any other periods regarding the literary texts they present.
Moll Flanders is an account of a woman referred to as Moll Flanders, whose real name is not told. Flanders' story represents those of the women who lived during that period who had to work under the command of men as they are being humiliated and despised. The protagonist, Flanders, came from a humble background but her desire to conquer the tradition and the negative perception that the society had towards women did not darken (Keats, 2009). The struggle that she went through as a whore for five years, five times a wife (even to her brother), a thieve for twelve years, a criminal in Virginia, made her bold and determined and always knew that nothing was impossible. Later on, Flanders made it in future and became a rich and respectable woman in the society. The literary texts that are applied in the literature express the period s between late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century where women in England and America were oppressed and despised in the society, and they were under men. The women reputations were never valued, and no men had interest in knowing whether they will succeed in life or not. The story of Moll Flanders was first published in 1722, as the earliest story in the English literature, the period of its creation and publication was witnessed with endurance, opportunism, and oppression among women.
Moll Flanders is one of the earliest literature completed in English hence showing the Enlightenment period, however, this is not substantial to show the "reality" of that period, especially when the theme of this literary texts are since more gender-based, rather than giving the political context around the period. A lot needs to be told about the political atmosphere of the period; therefore it will be understood in the modern times the comprehensive "reality" of that period. Reflecting on the Flanders' story, it does not replicate those of other women; it is known that in the past, there were responsible families where they valued women and provided them with the decent living. Although the author has tried to make the reader understand the women's social life during that period, the extent that he tries to describe it does not bring a clear reality of what occurs and what represented the entire society.
According to John Keats in his literary work on Keats's Poetry and Prose, he presents poems and prose that range between 1817 and 1820 (Cervantes, 2011). Each of the poem and prose reflects the reality of the period that it was created, which was the romantic period or Romanticism which was around the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. This period of doing literary texts shows the "reality" of the large network of something (as shown, poems and prose) competing agendas, philosophies as well as points of concern. The literary texts show how they had a great influence, as its major vehicle of expression being poetry. The romanticism shown in Keats's Poetry and Prose was concerned with the individual rather than the society. The collection of poems and prose by Keats were targeting some people of interest in the society through which they impact the society, such as Letter to Benjamin Bailey, January 23, 1818, where Keats congratulates his university friend Benjamin for getting married. While "On Visiting the Tomb of Burns," is a romantic, seductive poem. As it can be viewed, the poems during this age had themes similar to that od were it targets social issues such as love and relationships (The Keats Letters Project, 2018). The poems and prose did not focus on either the political or economic. It appears that the "reality" of that time is that people were more focused on the matters that build their bond with one another and socialize. By using poems and prose as the literary styles, John Keats' style is among the first and ancient styles of expressing one's thoughts and agenda.
Certainly, Keats has used the literary texts through the poem and prose to show the Romanticism period, although it does not give the complete "reality" about the period that it was created. In the case of Keats, he relied mostly on her passion, emotion, and attitude that he had to the people that were dear to him, rather than considering matters that will entirely picture the ancient times that the literary work was created. The extent that it represents the period of Romanticism is not satisfactory since despite having poems and prose as the earliest literary forms of those times, other subsequent periods also utilize the same form; and his ideas selfish as they are only confined around his family and friends (Defoe, 2005)
Conclusively, the authors that took part in the writing of the previous works of literature had different agenda in ensuring that their readers will receive their messages. The pieces of literature are still read until to the present times, making the present reader pictures the reality of things during that day regarding socialization and political environment. However, not all literary text have exclusively related the past with the "reality" of the period that was created. Some of the literary texts speak of individuals who do not entirely represent the whole community that used to live in the past. Giving an account on Flanders does not completely means that the predicament she went through is what all the women went through at that period. At least the author of the work could see the common issues that present the way of living among women during those times. Issues such as how women used to groom, fight for political power, the duties that women used to perform during that period and so on; at least that will represent either social or economic or both perspective of women at those times. On the other hand, the poems and prose that are in the literary texts are entirely about a person who has interest in those people he had interacted with. The act of showing love is not new in this world, and it does not exclusively represent the particular period being created at all. Even at the present times, the literary texts are written similar to that of Keats, and it does not mention the how the period it was created is all about. The unique thing about the literary text by Keats is the style of poem and poet that was used during that period representing Romanticism, while that of Flanders literary text reflects the Enlightenment period but that is not the absolute reality of that time since different literary text can be similar with some periods of writing.
Cervantes, G., 2011. Convict Transportation and Penitence in Moll Flanders. ELH, 78(2), pp.315-336.
Defoe, D., 2005. Moll Flanders. Broadview Press.
Keats, J., 2009. Keats's Poetry and Prose, ed. Jeffrey N. Cox.
Online-literature.com. (2018). Literature Periods & Movements. Literary History. [online] Available at: http://www.online-literature.com/periods/ [Accessed 9 Mar. 2018].
Sybilisticism.tripod.com. (2018). World Literature Timeline. [online] Available at: http://sybilisticism.tripod.com/worldliteraturetimeline.htm [Accessed 9 Mar. 2018].
The Keats Letters Project. (2018). Letter #19: To Benjamin Robert Haydon, 10/11 May 1817. [online] Available at: http://keatslettersproject.com/letters/haydon1011may1817/ [Accessed 9 Mar. 2018].
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