By Andrew M. Stauffer
Andrew M. Stauffer explores the altering position of anger within the literature and tradition of the Romantic interval, rather within the poetry and prose of Blake, Coleridge, Godwin, Shelley, and Byron. This leading edge publication has a lot to give a contribution to the knowledge of Romantic literature and the cultural heritage of emotions.
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Not so for anger, a more threatening and potentially explosive emotion. 1), Senecan anger ultimately resists the fellowship of Aristotelian fear and pity because of its unique relationship to observers. 5) he ﬁnds no sympathetic feeling for those who are angry, ergo out of control. Unlike Horatian grief and Aristotelian fear and pity, Senecan anger rarely inspires sympathetic feeling in an audience, because sympathy is not its goal. 12 The angry orator can either be angry at his particular audience, in which case he wants to evoke feelings of remorse and fear, or he can be angry before them, so that they will come to share his feelings of anger and be moved to action against a common enemy.
The contest evoked two traditions of anger, traceable to Juvenal on the one hand and Seneca on the other. In Juvenalian satire, anger is intense indignation: just, necessary, continuous with the self, required of the rational man confronted by corruption and evil. Like Juvenal’s portraits of the Roman citizens, Burke’s depictions of the revolutionaries tend towards extremity. For example, Juvenal in Satire i asks rhetorically, “When was Vice more rampant? ”8 In the Reﬂections, Burke calls the leading of the royal family from Versailles to Paris “the most horrid, atrocious, and afﬂicting spectacle, that perhaps ever was exhibited to the pity and indignation of mankind” (117), and describes the procession as one in which “the royal captives who followed in the train were slowly moved along, amidst the horrid yells, and shrilling screams, and frantic dances, and infamous contumelies, and all the unutterable abominations of the furies of hell, in the abused shape of the vilest of women” (122).
28 And Donald Davie, after observing that, “Anger is beautiful; and the art that anger feeds is crisp and clear and bright, not the hulking and nebulous immensities of ‘the sublime’”, turns to Pope as his great example: “In . . Pope, the anger is more than half contempt. ”29 Davie follows Seneca, in the sense that he sees the loss of control of one’s anger as aesthetically and personally destructive. A fear of “indistinct and murky” rage (Trying to Explain, 61) and the absence of self-control it implies leads him to the high and dry ground of the Popean satiric couplet, with its focused, biting, and ironic contempt – an emotion quite different from the “unbridled, ungovernable” anger of Seneca and the sublime.