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"The Classical Age (1700-1745)"

The Classical  Age (1700-1745) consists mainly of The Rape of the Lock, Gulliver's Travels, The Classical Age Or ,The Augustan Age Or, The of Pope, Pamela, Robinson Crusoe, Classicism, Neo-classicism, The Spectator,  Satire  etc. Here, these things are discussed in small areas. 

The Rape of the Lock

"The Rape of the Lock" is one of the finest poems in English literature written by Alexander Pope. It was first published in 1712 and then published in an enlarged form in 1714. It is based on an actual incident. The incident is that a nobleman cuts off a lock a lady's hair. It creates bitterness between the two families of Mrs. Arabella Fermor and Lord Petre. Pope's friend, John Caryl requested him to compose a poem in order to settle the quarrel between these families. So he has written this poem."The Rape of the Lock" is a mock-heroic poem. The subject-matter of this poem is trivial with grand language and with the treatment of supernatural machinery. The poem is divided into five cantos. Here we find Belinda who is the representative fashionable woman folk in 18th century. It is a true picture of the 18th century London society. The poet has deliciously described how Belinda leads her life and how the Baron cuts off her two beautiful locks. After that he shows how a mighty battle takes place between the group of Belinda and the Baron. He presents and describes the content of the poem in a ludicrous and humorous manner. He criticizes the 18th century fashionable way of life very severely. In fact, Pope demands that "The Rape of the Lock" is an epic. But it is not a real epic. Moreover, it is regarded as a mock-epic which is the masterpiece of the poet.

Gulliver's Travels

Gulliver's Travels is the most famous of all works of Jonathan Swift. The germs of this book has been traced to the celebrated Scriblerus Club which came into existence in the last months of Queen Anne's reign. At that time, Swift Joined with John Arbuthnot, Alexander pope, John Gay and a few other writers in a scheme to ridicule all false tastes in learning. The full title of Gulliver's Travels is Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World in Four Parts by Lemuel Gulliver, first a Surgeon, and then a Captain of Several Ships. The book was published anonymously by the end of October in 1726. It was published negotiating with the publishers having been carried on by Swift's friends, Charles Ford and Erasmas Lewis. The book is written into parts. They are---(i) Part-I:  A  Voyage to Lilliput.(ii) Part-II:  A Voyage to Brobdingnag.(iii) Part-III: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib,Luggnagg and Japan.(iv) Part-IV: A Voyage to the Country of Houyhnhnms.Gulliver's Travels has not only become a classic as a satire on the human race but also classic as a Children's book. Swift says that the object of this book is to vex the world. The book is an allegorical satire intended to instruct mankind. Its appeal is immense and permanent.

The Classical Age Or, The Augustan Age or, The Age of Pope

In the history of English literature, the time span from 1700-1745 is regarded as the Classical Age. Because the writers of this period demanded that they were the classics of English literature. They believed that the works of those writers of classical antiquity presented the best of models and the ultimate standards of literary taste. Moreover, they did not believe in the inspiration of the individual genius like the Latin writers. They felt that the best poetry was the product of the rules and laws by the authority of the past. As a result, in the literature of the period intelligence rather than imagination was the important guidance of artistic genius. The literature became didactic and satiric. In poetry, the establishment of a highly artificial and conventional style was common. Classical decorations were employed by the writers. Most of the writings of this age are in prose. The age is the called age of reason and satire.Classic refers of Greek and Roman literature or any literature that possesses the qualities of Greek and Roman literature. The Classical Age has another name and it is the Augustan Age. Because the writers of this period imitated the style and elegance of the writers who wrote in Italy during the reign of the Emperor Augustus (17 B.C-14 A.D.). This span of time is also called the Age of Pope. Because Alexander Pope was the chief exponent of imitating Augustan literature. During these years, England was ruled by Queen Anne (1702-1714),George-I (1714-1727) and George-II (17-27-1760). The first English daily newspaper, The Daily Courant appeared in London in 1702. A great number of coffee-houses, pubs and clubs was multiplied. Pope, Jonathan Swift, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding are famous writers of this period.


Pamela is regarded as the first modern novel written by Samuel Richardson. It was published in 1741. Richardson was asked to prepare a series of model letters for those who could not write for themselves.The subtitle of the novel is Virtue Rewarded. Richardson heard a story from some acquaintance of his youth of a Mr.B, the owner of a great house Mr. B married a beautiful and virtuous young lady, among them one of his mother's maids. After his mother's death, the young squire had tried by all manner of temptations to seduce the girl. But the maid had recourse to as many innocent stratagems to save herself. With little modification, Richardson has written his Pamela. In this novel,Pamela is a virtuous maid servant. She resists the attempts at seduction of the son of her late mistress.At last, the squire offers her marriage which she gladly accepts. His sensibilities are touched by her piety courage and other virtues. In fact, Richardson gives to the English novel a psychological depth. He prepares it for the psychological realism of the 19th century novel. His technique of writing and manner of narration gives him an established place in the history of English literature.

Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe is a famous novel by Daniel Defoe. The full name of the novel is The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner. The novel presents a hairsplitting adventure story of Robinson Crusoe. Captured at sea by the pirates Crusoe is wrecked off the South American Coast on a desert island. He is clever and resolute. He builds himself living quarters and cultivates food. He brings some useful items from the shipwreck. After 17 lonely years, he finds a footprint in the sand. In the 24th year of hi enforced isolation, he rescues a victim of the cannibals and names him Friday.Robinson Crusoe is symbolic and has several allegories. Political and religious allegories are remarkable. In the novel, Dofoe has characterized almost all the characters according to the name of their profession. The novel represents crime, sin, punishment and repentance. The universal appeal of the book springs from the struggle of a solitary individual to survive in the middle of hostile surroundings. Crusoe is industrious, clever, practical and pious. He triumphs over surroundings, practical genius and self-reliance. He represents the whole human society. Because he does everything that he needs. He is the prudential hero. He is sober,prudent, and wise merchant engaged in business enterprise. However, the book, Robinson Crusoe is written in the plain, lucid and colloquial prose. It seems to want of the features of a novel, yet its realism and prose style entitle it to the claim of being the first English novel.


Classicism is a doctrine of art and literature which was followed by the ancient Greeks and Romans. It is a discussing and ultimately judging a literary work. It is a literary work in terms of principles derived from admired qualities in the classics of Greek and Roman literature. It is opposite to romanticism. The main features of classicism are---(i)  Restrain or control over imagination,(ii)  Predominance of reason over emotion,(iii) Clarity, simplicity and balance,(iv) Respect for tradition and (v) Precision.In the history of English literature, classicism seems to be traced in the works of 18th century writers. But they were self-declared classicists. They thought that they were classics in English literature. On the contrary, they were greatly satirists. They were neo-classicists. But classicism is evident in the works of Shakespeare, Jane Austen and Milton.


Neo-classicism is the dominant literary movement in England during the late 17th century and the 18th century. This movement sought to revive the artistic ideals of classical Greece and Rome. Actually, Neo means "False" or Pseudo ". In the year of (1660-1785), the writets imitated the ancient Greek and Roman literary tradition. But they lacked the originality of the writers of that period. Artificiality, order, logic and elegance of diction were the main characteristics of the writings of that period. Satire, essay, parody, and burlesque were the main forms of writing. In poetry, heroic couple was the most popular verse form. John Dryden, Joseph Addison, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift and ,Dr. Samuel Johnson were the important neo-classical writers.

 The Spectator 

" The Spectator made a mark in English literature and fixed a form which was adopted with servile fidelity by many periodicals till the end of the century ", says an eminent critic. The Spectator is the name of a remarkable journal in the 18th century English literature. It is a joint venture of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. It began in March 1, 1710. It carried the tendency still further. It was Addison who dominated the journal and imparted to it the peculiar stamp and charm of his personality. It was first published in 1711. ssIt is an important literary name. Indeed it is found endowed with a definite plan. It consists of a series of literary essays. It is concerned with social morals and manners. The aim of The Spectator is clearly and frankly instructive. Addison and Steele are here found to refine and reform the tastes of the contemporary English society through satire. In fact, the essays in The Spectator are social and reformative. In the first paper of The Spectator, Addison gives an account of himself. He has represented himself as Mr.Spectator in one of his essays, " The Spectator's Account of Himself ". It ran for 555 numbers and continued until December 6, 1712. Then it appeared daily in the same year.


Satire is an attack on the follies and frailties of the society or man with the noble intention of perfection. In other words, itvis a literary attack on the follies and vices of an individual or a society with a view to correcting them through laughter and ridicule. So its chief purpose is ethically or aesthetically corrective. It is generally motivated by a desire to reform. In this sense, satire is a powerful weapon in the hands of a writer. It may be in prose or in verse. Satire is of two kinds----(i) Formal satire or direct satire and(ii) Informal or indirect satire.A formal satire is one which is not mixed with other genres. Again, it may be of two types--(i) Horatian satire, the mild and sophisticated literary attack and (ii) Juvenalian satire, the severe and indignant attack An informal satire is a satire which is presented in the form of another genre. It may be presented in the form of allegory. It also may be satiric epic or mock-epic, satiric comedy, satiric verse, satiric novel, satiric essay and satiric travelogue. Dryden's "Absalom and Achitophel", Pope's "The Rape of the Lock" Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Orwell's Animal Farm and Addison's "Essays" are the notable example of indirect satires.


Darshan Raj Variar said...

great work sir , such an capsule form of brief topics .

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