The Classical World vs. The Eighteenth Century vs. The Modern World: The Dramatic Shifts and the Influences

Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wordsworth, Caspar David Friedrich, Edgar Allan Poe and Jean­Jacques Rousseau are only a few names of the many artists and writers from the 1700s and 1800s who gave their share of revolutionary ideas and depictions that helped construct the modern world.

Whether it was the emphasis on exaggerating intuition and emotion within Edgar Allan Poe’s eccentric writings or Jean­Jacques Rousseau’s attempt to start turbulence in his book Emile when he writes “I shall say very little about the value of good education, nor shall I stop to prove that the customary method of education is bad”, these names represent only a few of the ideas pushed forward by the eighteenth and nineteenth century Romantics and Enlightenment thinkers that deviated from those of the Classical world (Rousseau 1).

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That being said, the Romantic and Enlightenment movements from the eighteenth century did not just demonstrate a dramatic shift from the Classical aesthetic, they also served as the foundation for today’s world of art. In the Classical world, aestheticians and people of all social classes believed that when it came to the creation of successful works of art, the gods must have had something to do with them.

Plato, for example, believed that all “works… were imitations thrice removed from the truth” and that the only “truth” was located in nature, art created by the gods (Plato 4). In the late­nineteenth century, however, Romantic artists began to focus on themselves and put the gods aside, something expressed in Brooklyn C

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