By Daniela Garofalo
From the 1790s to the 1840s, the phobia that Britain had develop into too effeminate to guard itself opposed to the anarchic forces unleashed by way of the French Revolution produced in lots of British writers of the interval a wish to painting robust leaders who may perhaps regulate the democratic and advertisement forces of modernization. whereas it's average in Romantic experiences to stress that Romantic writers have an interest within the solitary genius or hero who separates himself from the group to pursue his personal inventive visions, Daniela Garofalo argues in its place that Romantic and early Victorian writers have an interest in charismatic males—military heroes, tyrants, kings, and captains of industry—who manage glossy political and financial groups, occasionally through instance, and infrequently via direct engagement. interpreting works by means of William Godwin, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, Lord Byron, William Hazlitt, Thomas Carlyle, and Charlotte Brontë, Garofalo exhibits how those leaders, endowed with an inherent virility instead of easily inherited rank, legitimize hierarchy anew for an age being affected by a difficulty of authority.
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Extra info for Manly Leaders in Nineteenth-Century British Literature
83 The modern public has become fickle and is drawn to every new and ever-changing spectacle. If one of the writer’s “best services” is to draw the reader’s attention to the permanent forms, then that service is needed more at the present time than ever before: “For a multitude of causes, unknown to former times, are now acting with a combined force to blunt the discriminating powers of the mind, and, unfitting it for all voluntary exertion, to reduce it to a state of almost savage torpor” (128).
However, it cannot create any unity of purpose or action because consumers are addicted to change and the experience of ever new stimuli. They become disconnected from tradition; their literary culture is lost to them as they become enchanted with the latest commodity. They can have no permanent belief or view that would guide their political choices or that would convey a sense of who they are. ” The function of Wordsworth’s poetry, then, is to revive the manhood of the nation. This chivalric manhood requires that the people understand themselves as an entity with a character and a sense of itself as connected to something permanent.
The novel’s representation of power in some ways anticipates psychoanalytic accounts of modernity. Whereas most critics read the novel in Foucauldian terms, this reading misses some crucial aspects of Godwin’s representation of modern power. Psychoanalytic theory allows us to see how Godwin represents a debilitated public law rather than the Foucauldian model of pervasive power. But Godwin’s representation of power is, furthermore, responsive to the sentimental discourse about monarchy that stimulated the public’s pity for the French king in the 1790s.