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Classical Period

The classical period took place in the second portion of the eighteenth century, and it evolved as a rejoinder of the ancient style of life. The term classical is used to describe the period because in literature as well as art, there was particular intrigue in admiring and emulating the classical artistry and literal custom of Rome and Greece (Burstein & Shek, 2012). In terms of intellect, this period is labeled the Enlightenment Age. Some philosophers such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau wrote about the value of the normal individual and the power of the reasoning of human beings in solving the worldly problems. The revolution in thinking inescapably caused a clash between the previous order and fresh ideas. Revolutions in both the French and America were inspired by this fresh attitude in the last quarter of 18th century (Burstein & Shek, 2012).

Neoclassical Period

The neoclassical period can be stratified into three parts namely the Age of Restoration, Augustan Age, and Johnson Age. During the Age of Restoration, the influences of Dryden, Bunyan, and Milton were dominant. During the Augustan Age, the Pope was the key lyrical figure while Smollett, Fielding, Defoe, and Richardson controlled over the novel sophistication. Johnson’s Age marked the beginning of a newly-fangled understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s works, the growth of sensibility novel, and the appearance of the Gothic school (Burstein & Shek, 2012). This period marked a revolution in both French and America. Essays, letters, satire, and parody became the favorite literary forms with poetry reaching its sophistication in heroic poems of the Pope. The arts of the neoclassical period were unemotional, sternly heroic, and very serious. Neoclassical works also depicted some subjects from the classical period as used in early Greek and Roman arts especially when conveying moral narratives of self-sacrifice and self-denial in living within the ethical dictates (Canfield, 2003).

The Stylistic and Historic Conditions That May Have Contributed to the Two Styles

The first stylistic and historical condition that contributed to the classical period style of life is the objections against the ancient styles attributed to their shallow nature and inadequate depth. The second stylistic and historical condition is that the ancient styles that limited the use of ornamentation as well as decoration. The third stylistic and historical condition that contributed to the evolution of classical style is the admiration of Greece and Rome literary heritage and artistry. The first stylistic and historical condition that contributed to neoclassical style is the flourishing of conservatism in politics as well as literature. The second stylistic and historical condition is the urge to get rid of the belief that man is good and assert the belief that he is inherently flawed.  As such, man changed the Renaissance attitudes and emphasized on common sense, restraint and self-control to express ethical narratives of self-sacrifice and denial to keep in line with the hypothetical moral superiority of antiquity. Relationship between Classical and Neoclassical Literature

The relationship between classical and neoclassical literature is that neoclassical literature heavily relied on the classical literature. The neoclassical writers developed the ideas synthesized by the ancient writers and also tried to analyze them critically to facilitate a deep understand. In other instances, neoclassical writers imitated the works of classical writers. During this period the prose developed, and writers applied reason in their works as opposed to emotions.


One of the significant differences between the works of literature of the two periods is that classical literature was original and reflected the imaginations of the then writers. On the other hand, neoclassical writers did not emphasize on imagination but instead, they tried to understand the works of the classical writers. As such, they were in most cases supporting or criticizing the works of classical writers. The other difference is that the literature works of neoclassical writers such as Pope, Dryden, and John Gay exhibited quality, clarity, order, simplicity and good décor more than classical literature (Facos, 2011). The third difference is that the neoclassical works of literature were written in an overly ironic style that was highly refined as was not the case in classical works of literature.

Reason for Deviation

The reason why the neoclassical literature deviated from classical literature is to suit the change in time. The famous writers of the period were determined to make people understand their works of literature with simplicity. As such, they refrained from using complicated philosophical prose as was the case of classical writers such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. They thus applied satire and irony to appeal to their readers.

Similarities and Differences between Plato’s and Pope’s Literature

The first similarity of Pope’s The Essay on Man and Plato’s The Republic is that both works are written in a philosophical approach. Pope develops a system of ethics, which all members of the community should conform to while Plato writes about the operation of a republic using the body, the soul, and the mind as the center of reference. The second similarity is that both works of literature are geared towards informing the ethical ways of life in the society. The first difference between Pope’s poem and Plato’s essay is that Pope’s writing is in the form of a poem whereas Plato’s writing is in the form of a dialog. Most of Pope’s writings were in the form of poems while most of Plato’s writings were in the form of dialogues. The other difference is that Pope’s poem is satirical and humorous while Plato’s dialogue is purely philosophical in tone.

A Specific Influence of Neoclassical Literature on the Future Art World

The neoclassical literature directly influenced the future art world in that they lead to the view that man is not perfect. As such, they opened up the way for the reason, order, and use of common sense. The literature of this period insisted on the suitability of man as the subject matter of art. For this reason, literature was highly regarded because of its usefulness in man’s life. Additionally, literature was upheld for intellectual purposes as opposed to emotional purposes. These insights enabled the employment of proportion, harmony and unity to ease the process of correcting, delighting, educating, and instructing human beings.



Burstein, S., & Shek, R. (2012). World history. Orlando, Fla.: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Canfield, J. (2003). The baroque in English neoclassical literature. Newark: University of Delaware Press.

Facos, M. (2011). An introduction to nineteenth century art. New York: Routledge.









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