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The spirit of the age (Romantic Age)


The spirit of the age (Romantic Age)

There were two events the most very important: the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.

  • The French Revolution was the beginning of a new era in human history and the ideals were liberty, equality, fraternity. Many philosophers were very important in the context of the French Revolution, like Jean Jacques Rousseau, who set the equality of all individuals. He wanted the return to the simple, natural life. This aspect leads to another important event: the Industrial Revolution.
  • Before the change from an agricultural to an industrial nation, a large share of English society was formed by small farmers. The Industrial Revolution transformed the working individual into an impersonal labour force. A system of charitable assistance supported the very poor and led to the institution of the workhouses.
  • There was the necessity of reform: the working classes become conscious to demand better living standards and the right to vote; the reforms were not welcomed by the government 

  • In this period there were many ideals expressed by the pamphlets and debates.

Edmund Burke wrote against the French Revolution. He pointed up the dangers of democracy when a country is not guided by the responsible leadership.

Thomas Paine, a radical Anglo-American, wrote The Rights of Man, a brilliant statement that defende ordinary people against the power of kings and the aristocracy.

The radical philosopher William Godwin stated that the law is benefit the rich, and inflicts revenge. He support the idea of free love and marriage between free individuals. For him the only ideals for society are truth and justice. The Godwin family had many relevance: his daughter Mary, who married the poet Shelley, wrote the best seller Frankenstein.

The progress of medicine, the improvements in hygiene led to a further increase in population. This was the definitive elimination of the plague: more and more houses were now built in bricks

The industrial and commercial development saw the flourishing of economists like Thomas Robert Malthus and David Ricardo. Malthus was one of leading economists of this time; he is remembered for is Essay on the Principle of Population, in which he stated that the population increases in geometrical progression. Hence the necessity of birth control, in the form of moral restraint. The principle played a major role in the development of Marxism.


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