How is the Romantic notion of the sublime power of Nature transformed or altered by the Industrial Revolution and how is this transformation from the celebration of the powers of nature to the powers of industry evident in the culture of the Industrial Age?
Transformation of the Romantic notion of the sublime power of Nature
The Romantic notion of the sublime power of Nature was transformed by the Industrial Revolution when the latter enforced a new direction of depicting contemporary events. It focused on a sense of urgency which impacted the events. In most cases, the events are both realistic and idealistic. However, rather than depicting nature as an aspect of beauty as is with the notion of the sublime power of Nature, the Industrial Revolution turns it into a cold and pathetic component of life. Hence, it ruins the large tracts of woods, the fields, and even the associated creativity.
The natural views image has also been altered with the modern life which focused on the working class, the wealthy, and many other industrial views (Keegan 544). For most of the nineteenth century, industrialization created many opportunities for wealth for some people, but left many others leading poor lifestyles. Thus, the working-class life reality is that they had to work for many hours with unfavourable wages and in poor working conditions.
The Industrial Revolution was directly linked to the horrible living conditions that were experienced at the time (Leech 205). The wages were much lower than what was needed to enable the workers to live decent lives. In addition, children were also extorted as they were subjected to child labour with much lower payment. Rather than lead lives as children and be expected to get an education and play with friends, the industrial revolution saw to it that children as young as four years old were hired as employees (Taylor 193). Therefore, their childhood was taken away from them as a result of the Industrial Revolution.
Another factor relates to how the Industrial Revolution led to the destruction of the rural areas. These areas were replaced with big factories which were needed when demand for production increased (Keegan 545). Basically, this major destruction of nature is the focus of the romantic notion. The high rates of child abuse, urbanization, and destruction of nature led to many authors and artists’ criticisms of the Industrial Revolution. They try to call the people to remember the period before Industrialism and urbanization destroyed nature.
During the romantic era, a new genre of literary works was created. It sparked the imagination of its audience and further triggered the passionate emotions they have towards nature. That is because rather than rely solely on nature’s beauty, many other works focused on how it was and will always be a powerful entity. This inflicts fear and respect in the audience since they get to understand how important nature is to them (Leech 206). Hence, the Industrial Revolution is perceived as a time when human beings stopped respecting the powerful nature.
The mass migration of workers seeking employment triggered a drastic change in living conditions. Where people lived with sufficient space previously, the industrial revolution saw to it that even though they were employed, they could not afford proper housing. Many had to live in crowded, dirty homes located in filthy cities (Taylor 194). What was initially enjoyed, included healthy farm produce and fresh air were no longer available. That is because the revolution did not respect the sublime power of nature.
In conclusion, the sublime power of nature was altered by Industrial Revolution which lead people to stop paying attention to their environment as they attempted to better their lives. Unfortunately, the outcome was far much worse since the environment was destroyed, children were abused, and adults could not even make a decent living from the employment positions they got.
Keegan, Bridget M. “Madness And The Romantic Poet: A Critical History / John Clare: Nature, Criticism And History”. European Romantic Review, vol 29, no. 4, 2018, pp. 540-545. Informa UK Limited, doi:10.1080/10509585.2018.1487628.
Leech, Patrick. “Franca Dellarosa, Talking Revolution: Edward Rushton’s Rebellious Poetics, 1782–1814”. Romanticism, vol 25, no. 2, 2019, pp. 205-206. Edinburgh University Press, doi:10.3366/rom.2019.0420.
Taylor, David Francis. “Frederick Burwick, British Drama Of The Industrial Revolution”. Romanticism, vol 23, no. 2, 2017, pp. 192-195. Edinburgh University Press, doi:10.3366/rom.2017.0326.