Old Men And Mice: Political Agency And Social Reform

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No Country for Old Men and Mice: Political Agency & Social Reform in the Romantic Poetry of Barbauld and Wordsworth Anna Barbauld and Williams Wordsworth knew how to wield the radical power of poetry. Both were aware of their audience yet still felt moral obligations to address the social climate of their respective time. Barbauld, writing on the cusp of the French Revolution, catered to an audience of a freshly urbanized English middle class of the late eighteenth century who had developed a new concern for the welfare of animals. While many Romantic poets chose to idealize animals on sympathy ridden pedestal, in the poem “The Mouse’s Petition” Barbauld employs reason, humor, and philosophical materialism to educate her audience on social reform. Wordsworth, disappointed that the revolution did not catch on in England, wrote for…show more content…
Hoping to incite an audience who were more concerned with morality than entertainment, in the poem “Simon Lee, The Old Huntsman,” Wordsworth employs themes similar to those found in “The Mouse’s Petition.” Both poems lure the audience with the promise of amusement or a temporary tug on their heartstrings, yet with an unexpected change in tone, the audience certainly receive more than what they bargain for. Wordworth’s Simon Lee and Barbauld’s “pensive” and imprisoned mouse, who are at the lowest of every discernable hierarchy of the time, become more than targets of noblesse oblige, both poets wield their subjects as political agents . These subjects become teaching mechanisms for social reform and justice. Instead of rendering a satisfying

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