Ironic Disposition; but is that not the point of Romanticism?

Wordworth’s “Mad Mother” and Theodore Gericault’s Evening: Landscape with an Aqueduct demonstrates the semblance of a crushed vision, which correlates with gothic themes in the Romantic period.  For example, both the poem and painting reflect an “imaginative and emotional spontaneity” and “the freshness of childhood” attributed to the Romanticism movement, especially because both pieces showcase the potential the mother and the building have to recreate a significance i.e. as a mother and for the building as a landmark, and how there is still hope within these previous selves or in this case the hope for a rebirth.  Such themes can be seen from the poem’s prelude wherein the mother proclaims,
“Suck little babe, o suck again!
It cools my blood it cools my brain;
thy lips I feel them, baby! they draw the pain away
Oh! press me with thy little hand;
it loosens something at my chest; about that tight and deadly band
I feel thy little fingers press’d
the breeze I see in the tree;
it comes to cool my babe and me”
One aspect the poem and picture create in the audience is a sign of unease. From initial glance at the painting an individual perceives the scene as grotesque from the gnarled branches, and gloomy atmosphere, yet when one takes in the details, such as the light through the window, and the light imagery that encompasses the dark, the scene seems more hopeful than dreary.  The poem applies the same dreary language, yet her language forces the audience realize that that her “babe” symbolizes a restoration for her. Even through abandonment, the narrator has hope for this new life in her child, especially when she motivates it to constantly “suck” since this creates a cathartic feeling within her, which releases “the tight and deadly band”.  Her words “tight” and “deadly” pertain to the setting of the picture, but she seeks comfort in this baby even though its birth becomes the source of her pain. The painting inflicts an identical calm, based on how the darkness is not totally overbearing or harsh, and the light illuminates the atmosphere in a way that seems less eerie and more serene.  Not only that the trees remain stagnant, while the degradation of the aqueduct remains, to highlight not only its past, but its future as a historical piece.  The child becomes the mother’s past, based on its existence as a remembrance of the father, but the baby’s presence like “thy little fingers press’d” give her optimism of the future. In the painting light passes through the window, and since “light” imagery can be a sign of life, hope, and rebirth this too correlates with the aqueduct’s vitality and relevance in the landscape.
–Jessica Mijares

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10 thoughts on “Ironic Disposition; but is that not the point of Romanticism?

  1. Pingback: In-class blog comments | English Literature of the Long Eighteenth Century (1660-1837) Gone Global

  2. The most original idea in this post is where you comment on the light passing through the window as a metaphor. You describe the painting really well and it is clear what you are talking about. You can make this post better by focusing on one idea and expanding on it in many different ways. You have a lot of great ideas in here so picking one or two to stick with and explore would be easy.
    -Maya Gonzales

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  3. Hi Jessica, it’s Sara. I really enjoyed your post. I think the most original and interesting idea presented in this post was the idea that “both the poem and painting reflect an “imaginative and emotional spontaneity” and “the freshness of childhood””. I don’t know if I would improve it because it sounded good to me; but for the sake of having to say something about improvement I would (tentatively) say that maybe you could organize your argument a little more clearly? Still a very good post 🙂

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  4. The most original idea presented is the idea that the baby is a reflection of the mothers past and a source of pain. To improve this blog post it would be helpful to add a picture and discuss its relevance to your claims. Specific evidence the author uses to create a sense of unease such as figurative language, syntax, and more would help also.

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  5. To begin, I like the connection between your title and the analysis, it’s a hook you take advantage of quite well.

    It was interesting to see you chose “Mad Mother” with most of the pictures concerning nature as a major background (but is not motherhood the very condition of nature itself; ‘Mother Nature’), and made a connection regarding hope within the bleakness of life.

    My only criticism is that you are a bit blunt with your analysis, it feels like you got something very interesting but compressed it down (though this is undrstandable for a blog post). I would only suggest situating the reader more into the connection you’re making.

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  6. I like your concluding ideas here about how light signify rebirth and hope, and how the mother’s baby is her greatest pain as well as her source for joy. I can sense the irony that you are depicting. Also your ideas on how light and dark shift things, they work together to form the landscape, as they do with the mother and her child, her hope and her fear. I think you did a good job depicting not just irony but irony as a frame of perspective.

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  7. I like how you make a comparison between the mother and the emotion that is evoked from the picture, rather than just looking at the outer surface of the picture.Also how you were able to find similarities between the roughness and softness between both the picture and poem.You could also analyze the image a bit more ( focus on certain details like colors, shadowing, etc.) to enhance the comparison.

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  8. Your juxtaposition of mother and building is intriguing, and one that I did not find elsewhere. I never considered how a building could be similar to a mother, but your scrutiny of painting and poetic verse allowed me to understand to look beyond what is initially perceived. You’ve instigated a plethora of interesting thoughts, and you could definitely go further into depth with your ideas by using more detail and a connecting it further to Romanticism as a whole.

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  9. The original idea from this blog post would have to be how both the Landscape image and Mad Mother poem both illuminate the aspects of “imaginative and emotional spontaneity” as well as rebirth. I also saw the same spontaneous nature in the poem and with the way it was written should the speaker of the poem also be address? There’s cases where even the speaker of a literary work cannot be trusted and while this poem is titled “Mad Mother” is she really “Mad” or is her situation being misconstructed? Addtionally, does the image give an answer to this suggestion?
    -Kristy Frausto

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