Section I: (Suggested Time: 30 Minutes): Choose three of the following four quotations. Identify the excerpt (author and text), then state the significance of the quotation (5 points each; 3 X 5 = 15 points).
Sometimes it suits me better to invent
A tale from my own heart, more near akin
To my own passions and habitual thoughts.
This excerpt is taken from Wordsworth's Prelude. The passage is a significant representation of Wordsworth's Prelude and Romantic writing because of its personal focus. Romanticism represented a shift from Neo-Classicism's vanity and decorum toward more introspective thoughts and ideals. The excerpt also represents a shift in scope of the epic form from the grand scales of Homer's massive journey in the Odyssey to a more common, everyday scale. Wordsworth thought the scale of common life was significant due to the technological and political revolutions of the 18th century, and composed his prose in blank verse to appeal to the mass market of the common readers. Also, the personal nature of this passage leads to the beginning of autobiography as a form of literature. (Grade: 5+)
Section II (Suggested Time: 30 minutes): Choose three of the following four terms and explain the significance of each (5 points each; 3 X 5 = 15 points).
Sublime is significant because it is a recurring theme in most Romantic poetry. In the 18th century, beauty, order, symmetry/balance, and social acceptance were valued but the Romantics valued the uncertainty of nature, with its fierce, illogical forces. This was no longer the Age of Reason. People began to see that man did not dominate nature, as nature was far more powerful than man. Thus, most of the cultural outlets at the time portrayed the sublime: mountains, Northern wasteland, waterfalls, and the like. Man's fear of these forces made them awe-inspiring. A good example of the sublime is Percy Shelley's "Mont Blanc." He describes a mountain in the Alps, something poets in the 18th century would have considered a social faux pas. Romantic poets began to consider the power of nature and realized that every human lives every moment on the brink of death. They found this to be quite exciting, as they desired to live exciting lives and never to lose their passion and become living corpses. The portrayal of the sublime in Romantic poetry underscores this notion. They wrote of the somewhat frightening power of nature but described it as something beautiful [you should make clear that the sublime was understood by Kant and Burke as the opposite of the beautiful], but without the passive appreciation that the beautiful evokes. The sublime has power, perhaps the kind of power the poets want their poetry to have. (Grade: 5+)
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