Studying the literature and culture of the Nineteenth Century has amplified my
understanding of what it is to be human.
Being completely honest, I was nervous when I first enrolled in this unit. I thought: “writing from a different era… how on earth will I be able to relate and connect to that?” *Spoiler alert* I learnt way more than what I thought I would and as a whole, my perspective on life has changed in two ways.
Firstly, my perspective on nature had changed. I would get out of my car at night and rather than walking straight inside- I would look up at the stars instead, marvelling at how many there were, and realizing that the longer I stared the more stars appeared to me. (I also thought “OMG we’re [humans] so irrelevant and small! What the hell is out there? Why are we here? What is life?” -but that existential crisis is unimportant).
Also, when I began telling my mum how amazing spider webs were- if you really thought about it- she thought I was high. Little did she know, I was just inspired by the views of opium-addicted poets.
In all seriousness though, learning about romanticism and the beliefs and values of poets like William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge really DID shape the way I viewed nature. It was never something I had paid attention to, and yet now when I do- I become more curious and reflective, less self-centred and social-media-addicted. (Blog 1 shows this kind of reflection)
Sometimes I would mock how expressive romantic literature was, (like in Blog 2) and in a way, I still think it’s unrealistic and over the top- however, what we can learn from romanticism in terms of human reflection is the power of nature. Humans need to appreciate and protect the world we live in. Nature provides us with a free display of beauty and in return, we pollute and damage it -forgetting that nature can destroy us all in an instant.
I have to say though, while I loved the poetry side of romanticism… if you check out blog 3, you’ll find that I struggled with reading Wuthering Heights, and unfortunately even after successfully finishing the book- I still hated the story. BUT- the silver lining here is that I challenged myself, and pushed my inner boundaries in order to finish that (darn) book, and I’m proud of myself because I did it!
My second change of perspective was kind of ironic. I think it’s really funny that we explored Hard Times by Charles Dickens (another book I did not enjoy reading- sorry Michael it’s not you, it’s me) in a University environment because it made me realize how easily we conform! Then, to learn of Leo Tolstoy’s beliefs the week after, had me just about ready to revolt! I began questioning my own urban, privileged, cycled life. I noticed how industrialism had taken over nature (especially in blog 4), I realised that socio-class still exists and like Tolstoy, I began questioning my own life- am I wasting it? (Quick mention here of blog 5– my summary of Tolstoy’s beliefs)
Here’s a small snippet of my contrasting thought patterns while studying Victorianism:
One thought: “Screw University and the education system! I don’t need it! I want to travel instead- I’ll be a nomad! Up yours conformity!”
The other side of me: “Ah, yeah… but you DO need university in order to become that meaningful teacher that you want to be. If you want to help youthful minds be open and the best they can be… you’ll have to stay here to learn how. You can still travel, and move around. Quit being so irrational.”
So I’ve decided I will continue my university and working life in order to create a meaningful purpose in my life- becoming a teacher.
In conclusion, Nineteenth-Century Literature was an amazing unit! I am surprised just how much of an influence it has had on me and my views on life and the world around me. I’m not trying to get brownie points when I say this, but Michael- thank you for a great semester. I’ve really enjoyed 19th Century Literature (except for the two books we read :P)