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Enlightenment and Swift, Keats, and Von Droste-Hulshoff?? So we are reading Modest Proposal, Ode on a Grecian Urn, To Autumn, Last Day of the Year,...


When discussing values of the Enlightenment Period, I think that one has to start with a discussion of how human beings were perceived.  There was an overwhelming sense of absolute faith in human actions, in reason and rationality, and in the belief that human perfectibility can overcome any potential solution.  Art in the time period strove for perfection and technique and form was valued over all else.  The thinkers of the period stressed the ability to solve problems, the notion that all can be overcome through science and rational thought.  These values are of critical importance to the Enlightenment period.  I think that some of the works you mention above might comment in the opposite way to the values of the Enlightenment period.  For instance, Keats' conclusion in "Ode on a Grecian Urn" helps to establish the premise of negative capability, that there is a certain beauty in that which is unknown and lying beyond the grasp of human beings.  This would be a principle antithetical to the Enlightenment Values.

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