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Romantic Expressions of Mutability and Mortality Essay

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Romantic expressions of Mutability and Mortality The Romantic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was a direct reaction to the established cultural ideals of the European Enlightenment. The values of the Enlightenment were based upon scientific rationality, but eventually this movement culminated in the bloodthirsty French Revolution, which, in turn, spawned violent upheaval throughout Europe. Many of the Romantic poets were greatly disenchanted by the barbarity displayed by their fellow man, and as a result, began to reject the logic-based, `enlightened' mindset of the times, aspiring instead to emotional ideals. Dissatisfied with humanity's progress and disgusted with constant pain and suffering in society, the…show more content…
Keats's contrast of permanence and change becomes especially evident in the last stanza. The urn is a "cold pastoral," callous to the intense longing that it draws forth from its beholder, who is painfully mortal and insignificant in its presence and, furthermore, bewildered, for the urn "dost tease us out of thought" as we attempt to grasp its eternality. The notorious closing lines express the wisdom that the urn imparts to its beholder, and they tell us exactly what we can take for granted: ""Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."" Hence, everything else in the world is shifting, inconsistent; but the urn, an ideal specimen of beauty, is immutable and immortal. Shelley writes about mortality and mutability as well, and his most obvious example is the poem Mutability. In this poem, Shelley uses similes to emphasize the impermanence of humans and the societies in which they reside, and, interestingly, he seems to scale down the scope of time in each succeeding stanza. The first stanza encompasses all of human history, and therefore, not surprisingly, blatantly portrays
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