Civilization Week 18 Neoclassicism and Romanticism

Question 1: Summarize the arguments either of Spencer or Molinari (whichever one you read this week)

Gustave de Molinari was a classical liberal, known mostly for his radical views about government monopolies. This week we read his 1849 work entitled “The Production of Security.” Molinari views society as a naturally evolving and changing entity, a community that is formed by people working together rather than by the state. Because society is created naturally, Molinari believed that it naturally forms laws for itself. One of the laws Molinari recounted states that when a government creates a monopoly around a product that product not only increases in price but also decreases in quality. Because of this Molinari believed security should be left up to the free market. He said the government is formed to provide people security, but he believed that with that power granted the government will continue to expand and eventually charge people extra money for said security.

What were the characteristics of neoclassicism? Give one example of neoclassicism and show how it embodies at least one of these characteristics.

Neoclassicism was an 18th-century cultural revival that reintroduced the ideas of classical simplicity, symmetry and Roman inspired visual art. It takes inspiration from the 16th-century Renaissance Classicism, which focuses’s on depicting famous and personal events through realism and simplistic detail. Johann Joachim Winckelmann was one of the major writers at the time who popularized neoclassicism, along with a new generation of young artists who finished their “Grand Tour” across Europe and returned home with many newly discovered Greco-Roman ideas and ideals. The tomb of Pope Clement XIV is a wonderful example of neoclassicism. It emphasizes a near macabre simplicity, depicting two mournful figures in melancholy lighting grieving over the loss of the Pope. In contrast Pope Alexander VII’s tomb is colorful and flowing, depicting several figures holding children and looking to the Pope with wonder rather than grief. This baroque art style reminds me of a visualization of heaven rather than the neoclassicism depiction of death and sorrow.

What were the characteristics of Romanticism? Give one example of Romanticism and show how it embodies at least one of these characteristics.

Romanticism was competing with neoclassicism during the 18th-century, and eventually overtook it as time progressed. While neoclassicism highlights the simple and daily struggles of humanity, romanticism is quite the opposite in the sense that it highlights the hopes, dreams, individuality, and bizarre nonconformity of humanity. It often looked to nature for inspiration, seeing the world through a much more spiritual outlook than its forefathers. Romanticism is focused on emotion, doing its best to depict this emotion through visuals and music rather than with words. Hector Berlioz is an example of romanticism, his Symphonie Fantastique is meant to express his relationship and the emotions hes experiencing through the chords and harmonies. It puts extreme emphasis on his humanity, and the strange fantasies, longings and emotional turmoil that his obsession with a woman is creating. The music is meant to tell a story without having to spell anything out, the tune itself is meant to endow upon the listener the same emotions that Berlioz felt as he wrote it. But, just as human emotions, the music travels out of the realm of simple romance and lets us take a dive into Berlioz’s subconscious fears and conflicts. In one point Berlioz has a dream sequence where he murders his lover and is sentenced to beheading. The music does a wonderful job at displaying this without having to say anything; it builds and builds before the ax is swung, then has a few soft trailing thunks as the head bounces across the ground. Gruesome though it may be it tells a very clear story without having to resort to lyrics, the melodies and tune changes carry the story along. This is the driving point of romanticism. It’s meant to show, not tell, the humanistic flaws and experiences of individuals.

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