The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century: 1660-1800

The Restoration and the
Eighteenth Century: 1660-1800
(Lit Book pg. 468)
The Shape of England
England in 1660: exhausted by 20 years of civil war, the Black
Plague, and the Great Fire of London (which left 2/3 of citizens
The other labels of this time period include Age of Reason,
Age of Enlightenment, Augustan Age, Neoclassical period
Augustan and Neoclassical
Both the ruler of Rome and the rulers of England restored
peace and order after a leader’s death and civil war (Emperor
Octavian in Rome, Stuart family—Charles II—in England)
Both the people of Rome and the people of England were
weary of war, suspicious of radicals and revolutionaries,
wanted peace/order to work and enjoy life
To warn future revolutionaries, the people of England dug up
Oliver Cromwell (who led during the civil wars) and cut off
his corpse’s head to strike fear in any dissenters (Cromwell
had become a military dictator with Puritanical values)
Writers during this time modeled their works after Latin
works, classics of Rome (probably Greek works, too).
Because they were deemed to have permanence and
represented universal values in human experience
•Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658)
•Helped overthrow/execute Charles I
•Established Commonwealth (1649-1660)
•“Lord Protector”
•Charles II (1630-1685)
•Son of executed Charles I
•Returned from France in 1660
•No legitimate heirs
Reason and Enlightenment
In the Renaissance, people had superstitious beliefs about
unnatural events; they believed that nature gave warnings
about social disaster. People looked for supernatural
intervention in trying to explain WHY certain events
During the Enlightenment, the focus shifted from “WHY did
this happen?” to “HOW?” It became acceptable and
popular to question to old explanations, even popular –
scientific observation
The Birth of Modern English Prose
The members of the Royal Society of London call for more
precise, plain and exact writing (such as shortening long
sentences) There was a new form of English prose:
popularity of journals, pamphlets, and travel writing
For what reasons (this means more than one) is John
Dryden is important because he is considered “founder and
first true master” of modern English prose. In poetry, he
popularized regularized meter, made diction precise
Changes in Religion
Deism: Religious belief based upon reason and observation
of nature; “watchmaker” analogy says God built complex
universe, then let it run by itself
Christianity (in its various forms) still held power over
almost all Europeans during this time period
Religion and Politics
Charles II reinstituted the Anglican Church as official church
of England
He attempted to outlaw Puritan and independent sects.
This resulted in the popularity of British colonies in
America. Also, it made the public scared to voice
opposing views on any subject
The Bloodless Revolution
When Charles II died he had no legal (legitimate) heir. The
problem was, his brother James II was a Roman Catholic
Unpopular James II eventually fled to France in 1688, his
Protestant daughter Mary took over
Since then, all English monarchs have been Anglicans (in
Restoration/18th Century Monarchs
James II (1685-1688)
Anne (1702-1714)
William and Mary (1689-1702)
George I (1714-1727)
Restoration/18th Century Monarchs
George II (1727-1760)
George IV (1820-1830)
George III (1760-1820)
William IV (1830-1837)
Addicted to Theater
When Charles II came to power, one of his first acts was to
reopen the theaters Cromwell had closed
Charles and brother James supported play companies
financially; this era saw the first real female actresses!
Plays were produced during this time period: Witty comedies,
included emphasis on sexual relationships; these plays were
another outlet for satire of the age
The Age of Satire
The most accomplished writers of the eighteenth century were
Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift
They both criticized contemporary society. They believed in
order and discipline.
Pope attacked immorality and bad taste, usually of the upper
Pope and Swift were both appalled by the squalor and
shoddiness (in art, manners, morals) that underlay the
polished surfaces of Augustan life—its violent and filthy
Both writers deplored corrupt politics, materialism, and
“For fools rush in where
angels fear to tread.”
Alexander Pope
“I never wonder to see men
wicked, but I often wonder
to see them not ashamed.”
Jonathan Swift
Daniel Defoe stood for middle class values: thrift,
prudence, industry, respectability
Journalists of the eighteenth century were reporters and
reformers of public manners and morals
Public Poetry
Poets of this time had no desire to write about the
soul/feelings; believed poetry was a public function
An Augustan poet would craft a poem by deciding in
advance the kind of poem they wanted, with its exact meter
and rhyme
Augustan elegy: celebrated the dead by recalling the best
about a person, even if it was not true
Poetic satire: says the worst thing about someone or
something to expose them/it to ridicule
Ode: Expression of public emotion, often celebratory
Poetry of this time period was highly crafted according to
proper format
The First English Novels
Early novels were long, fictional, broad stories – often
These novels had a lasting importance: fiction is a reflection of
the time in which is was written. These novels help us
understand humor and insights of human experiences. They
helped expand literacy and had a wider public audience
(written in a simpler, more common form of English to be read
and understood)
The Commanding Figure of Johnson
Samuel Johnson criticized optimism, the idea of progress
(that human society was always improving for the better)
and the idea that humans are fundamentally moral (if we
reformed society, everyone would just do the right thing)
Searching for a Simpler Life
By the end of the eighteenth century, the world was changing:
Industrial Revolution changed manufacturing, cities were
booming, pollution, the French (and American) Revolutions
New writers disgusted by pollution and mass expansion.
They turned to writing about nature and the effects of mass
industrialization on the soul