Restoration age: Influences to the social condition and English literature.
The period from 1660 to 1700 is called as the Restoration Age . The Restoration of King Charles II in 1660 is known as the beginning of this era, the era of revolution and scientific invention. Which influences are reflected not only in the life of common people but in the literature of England. Three historical events – the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, the Romans Catholic controversy that raged during the later half Charles II’s reign and the Restoration of the year 1688 deeply influenced the social life and the literary movements of the age.
1. The Restoration
The reign of Charles II produced a new taste or interest to the English Literature. The Restoration Period, declines the values of Puritan periods such as gravity, moral earnestness and decorum in all things. The natural instincts and the inborn urge for enjoyment which were suppressed in the previous era came to violent exhibition. The common wealth had insisted on gravity and decorum in all things, the Restoration encouraged a levity that often became immoral and indecent. Profligacy was glorified in the Royal Court. Corruption was a rampant of livelihood, and increased day by day. The Great Fire of 1665,and the Plague were regarded as suitable sins of the profligacy. The process of social transformation began and the atmosphere of gaiety, cheerfulness, of licentiousness and moral laxity was restored.
During the Restoration Period there was a rapid development of science, astronomy, experimental chemistry, medicine, mineralogy, zoology, botany, vegetable physiology were all founded as studies and their literature began in the Restoration Period. In 1671 Isaac Newton laid his ‘Theory of Light’ before the Royal Society. His ‘Principia’ established the theory of gravitation, the true system of the universe, objectivity, rationality, scientific attitude and intellectual quality also influenced the literature of the period.
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2. Restoration age: Religious and Political Quarrels
The political atmosphere of Restoration Period was different and new to England. There were two political parties the Whigs and the Tory. The Whigs didn’t believe in decisions and status made by King. Therefore they sought to limit the powers of the Kings, the interest of the people and confuse the Parliament. On the other hand the Tory supported the Divine Right theory of the king. The ruse of this political parties gave a fresh importance to men of literary ability. And most importantly almost all the writers of this age had a direct or indirect connection with political parties. There are lots of literary giant who believed on philosophy of Troy or Whigs.
The religious controversies were even more bitter. The nation was predominantly Protestant and the Catholics were unduly harassed. Dryden’s famous poem ‘Absalom and Architophel’ reflects these religious and political conflict of the day.
3. Restoration age: The Glorious Revolution
After the death of Charles II, James II ascended the throne in 1685. He soon revealed the Catholic prejudices. He became unpopular within three years and the entire nation rose against him. The bloodless revolution of 1688 called the Protestant Williams to the throne. Henceforth religious passions diminish in intensity and the literature of the succeeding period tends to emphasize the political rather than the religious side of the public affairs.