Reflection of Social Reality in Romantic Literature: The Case of Chimney-sweepers

Abhishek Chowdhury | Assistant Professor, Department of English, Chakdaha College

Whatever the Aesthetes say in favour of the autonomy of art, by flaunting the slogan ‘Art for Art’s Sake’, no amount of abstraction can sever art and literature from their roots in real life – life lived as a throbbing interweave of joy and sorrow, dream and actuality, hope and despair. Any form of art is cradled in and nurtured by the actualities of human experience, social and private. Therefore, it would be no travesty to say that literature and society are co-extensive and symbiotic. The symbiosis between literature and society is an abiding principle of human history. It is a commonplace of criticism to dissociate the Romantic from the real. But it appears to be a fallacy in the logic of criticism. The most sensitive Romantic is paradoxically most keenly aware of the pinpricks of real life. A revolution is a co-ordinate of socio-political and economic history. But it creeps into the vision of a poet. So a poet and society or an artist and morals are not apart, not irrespective of each other. William Blake was very much aware of the socio-political scenario of industrial London, and he did not escape from urban society. Rather he dealt with problems like child labour, chimney sweeping (which were vicious outcome of industrial revolution) in his poems and his poems were actually a protest against these socio-political evils. This paper tries to throw light on this aspect of Romantic literature taking cognizance of the fact that art and literature are not lying but merely a fine excess of the essence of life.
Key words: romantic, society, child labour, chimney sweeping

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