Victor Hugo: France Romantic Movement, and Its Key Players sy soccertltan29 Victor Hugo: France Romantic Movement, and Its Key Players 1 Of5 Theatre has been present and effecting societies, and politics, all the way back to the Greeks, and in other forms, even before the Greeks. There is little question to Theatre being instrumental in the development of history at times. Shakespeare said it best through his character Hamlet, in his play Hamlet, “Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed … let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time.

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It is not always easy to tell what causes the one to change wither theatre effects change to societies and their politics or if the movements and styles of theatre change in response to society and its politics. A tenant from theatre’s “Romantic” movement may give the answer to this question. In the romantic theatre a principle idea is that, “Human existence is compounded of dualities. ” (Brockett, 364) The cause and effect of society and theatre through history may be itself a “duality’ where, they both effect and change the other.

Understanding the changes in the styles/movements in theatre is in fact important. I will examine the major change theatre took in France from “Neoclassic” ere to the “Romantic” era, and use the works of, Victor Hugo, exemplify the understanding of Romantic theatre. The nineteenth century brought one of the biggest social and political changes since the Renaissance. “… from 1790 to 1850 (Europe) was taken up with a struggle between those seeking to maintain the social political status quo and those working for a more democratic society. (Brockett, 363) In this time period we see a change in Theatre for its former neoclassical era into the romantic movement of theatre. Before I begin to study the change in the Romantic theatre, I need to look at what neoclassic theatre was. In Neoclassicism, man is viewed as, “an imperfect being, inherently sinful, whose potential was limited. They (Neoclassicists) replaced the Renaissance emphasis on the imagination, on invention andexperimentation, and on mysticism with an emphasis on order and reason, on restraint, on common sense, and on religious, political, economic and philosophical conservatism.

Page 2 Victor Hugo: France Romantic Movement, and Its Key Players Essay

They maintained that man himself was the most appropriate subject of art, and saw art itself as essentially ragmatic ” as valuable because it was somehowuseful ” and as something which was properly intellectual rather than emotional” (Arellano). In this style, plays and books deal with common sense over general emotions. In doing, it typically focus on the moment, time, or issues that is taking places as it is being written. Universal issues don’t appear as commonplace in them, as the issues and politics brought out with neoclassical writing doesn’t always relate with the issues or politics in present- day society.

In Neoclassical play structure there are three unities common in the plays. These unities are, the unity of time, meaning the story of the play should happen with in 24hrs. There is unity of place, which states the story of the play must take remain in a location or locations that a person can travel to with in 24hrs. so on story should fallow the only one plot and should have no subplots, also the action must finalize / come to an end at the end of the story. Neoclassical style also strived for specificity, order, and pragmatism.

The government of France during the neoclassic era was that of a monarchy. Which seems to fit the neoclassic desire for order, specificity. The romantic movement in the theatre, according to Hewitt, began in Germany with the publication of G. E. Lessings Hamburg Dramaturgy in 1768. It was an attack on the rules of Tragedies (Hewitt, 7) Romantics in France however was slow to get underway. Frances’ slow change from Neoclassism to Romantism is do in large part to Frances’ political conditions.

When romantism first emerges, France is under the leadership of Napoleon, who for a time is able to give the France neoclassic what they want, order. According to Brockett, “Napoleon sought to pattern his empire after Rome, so too he favored classical drama. ” (Brockett, 374). Napolean ooses the battle at “Waterloo” in 1814, and is exiled. Victor Hugo, in 1827, creates the first “major French romantic doctrine” in the preface to his play Cromwell. (Brockett, 375) In his preface, Victor Hugo, “called for the abandonment of the . advocated emphasizing the specific historical milieu of an unities . nsisted that art should go beyond the neoclassicist’s ‘idealized nature’ to action one that includes both sublime and grotesque. ” (Brockett, 375) Though, Victor Hugds preface is one of the first steps into finally bringing the romantic movement to France, he only mentions a few tenets of the romantic era. The romantic movement s set apart from Neoclassicism by several important themes, and although the philosophical essence of romanticism is complex there are four fundamental tenets to it. The first, there is a higher truth behind the earthly phenomena of everyday social forms and natural occurrences.

By the existence ofa higher truth there is a creator, and truth is now defined in connection with the infinity of existence. Truth is no long defined in the terms of Just observable norms, held by neoclassicist. (Brockett, 364) Second, ” since all creation has a common origin, through a careful observation of any part may give insights into the whole. (Brockett, 364) Third, man has a duel nature, the body and soul, and therefor is divided against himself. As we live in this physical world, our spirit remains in a constant struggle to move beyond our limitations. (Brockett, 364).

Forth, “To perceive the final unity behind the apparently endless diversity of existence requires an exceptional imagination, one found fully active only in the artist-genius. ” (Brockett, 364-365) Many romantic writers, including Victor Hugo, looked to the works of Shakespeare. His use of nature and man’s rebellion and struggle to transcend his limitations, holds very close with the enets of romanticism. Romantic writers use subjects of either, nature, the unspoiled natural man, or a man in rebellion with the unnatural structure and restraints found with bureaucratic societies. Brockett, 364-365). In the examination of France’s change from Neoclassic theatre to the Romantic theatre, the actual turning point and culmination of Frances switch takes place in 1830, with the production of Hernani by Victor Hugo. (Brockett, 376) Up until this point France society had been torn on the debate of sticking to the status quo and holding to the ideas of Neoclassicism or dopting the change in ideas brought in through Romatism. “In Hernan’, Hugo deliberately violated many of the rules which the advocates of neoclassicism sought tragedy, Victor made innovations.

He broke the three unities of time, place, and action, and he used dialogue that neoclassical form was considered beneath the dignity of tragedy. Before the show opened Victor gave admission tickets to his (romantic) friends had them positioned through out the audience. During the show, they argued and fought, the romantics vs. traditionalists (neoclassic). Hugds play, makes the triumph of French romanticism. Although Brockett, and Hewitt, claims Victor Hugo was a French Romantic playwright, theyre some who claim he isn’t. as found in The North American Review , Vol. 3. To address this issue I will look at his several of his plays and evaluate them on what tenets of Romanticism are. Romantics believed no person’s potential is truly limited. Once a person see’s an aspect of truth, their potential as a human is only expanded. If a person of lower standing watches a play that reveals some truth to them, then made aware a I little more of their ultimate capabilities. In Marion de Lorme, by Victor Hugo. The tow haracters Marion and Didier become a part of an acting troupe in order to escape, sense the police are after Didier.

The police end up, showing up as Didier is about to perform incognito, through the characters he plays in the troupe. As the policeman Laffemas, shows up he and recognizes Marion. Didier, whines up, having a change of heart and doesn’t feel it would be right to force hem both to go to Jail and die, for his mistakes. so Didier he turns him self in. Diedier having the change in heart, which is unbefitting of his character as a bandit, is a perfect example transcending limitations, major tenet of Romanticism. Romanticism also talks about, do to human’s existence of dualities: our bodies and souls.

We can never find true happiness in the physical world as out soul is in constant terminal to transcend the limitations our bodies. Victors play, Lucretia Borgia, The character Lucretia’s past is a villainess, due to the circumstances in her past of incest. Lucretia, tries to change her problems and become a better person. The other characters never allower her the chance to change. The other characters, including her servant, slander her name, ultimately driving her to kill. Lucretia ends up having a son Gennaro, by can only communicate with him through letters.

Grennaro, spends the play trying to find his mother, until the end when he meets her, and kills her. In Lucretia’s last line she screams ” Ah! You have killed me! Gennaro! I am your mother! ” (286). Lucretia’s continual struggle through the play to transcend her limitations placed on her by a bureaucratic society, but never prevails to do so. It is only shown at the end of the play through her death she is now able to transcend her limitations and become truly happy. Death is another element of romanticism hat is often seen as they believe “complete happiness and truth are to be found only in the spiritual realm”. 279) And in Hugds play, Hernani , at the end Dona Sol, and her husband Hernani, , are killed by Don Ruy Gomez, who was Dona Sol’s uncle. As Dona Sol is dying she says “Soon we shall both of us be opening our wings towards realms of bright new light. Let us fly hand in hand towards a better world,” (Schumacher, 208). , Dona Sol’s line is an acknowledgment that her and Hernani are going to transcend the physical realm and enter into a place with infinite possibilities. In another of her lines as she is dying, she also tells, “Dead! No, no. We’re sleeping. He’s asleep. This is my husband, do you see?

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