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How 17th Century Writers Regarded The Relationship Between Reason And Emotion.

1449 words - 6 pages

The 17th century was considered the “Age of Reason”, along with the final years of the artistic

and cultural movement, the Renaissance. Writers at this time were influenced by these social

revolutions, along with other historical events. Theories about emotion and reason sprung during this

time period, which were expressed in literature by poets and authors such as Robert Herrick, William

Shakespeare, and Thomas Hobbes. Shakespeare’s play, King Lear is a great representation on the

relationship of reason and emotion.

The design of reason and emotion was being developed during the 17th century. They related the

ideas of emotion with words such as ‘passion’ and ‘affect,’ (Schmitter, Amy M.) These terms of

emotion contrast from todays definition. Philosophy was a vital part of the seventeenth century due to

the enlightenment. The relationship between reason and emotion has been expressed in different forms

of literature such as poetry and literature. In literature, it would be expressed with themes such as

sight and insight.In poetry two common themes in 16th were the relationship between men and

women, and the treachery and hypocrisy of courtly life(unknown author). Poets such as Robbert

Herrick discussed how human life has a short time span and that it must be spent with love. William

expressed his ideas through his character King Lear, who at first is controlled by his emotions, then

later finds reason by the challenges he faces.

Robbert Herrick, a 17th century english poet, wrote the poem To Daffodils, which expresses the

concept that time is too short, and that we must enjoy it through love. In many of his poems, he had a

common subject, love, with particular lines also have to do with ceremonies—special, often

sanctified, events that figure importantly in human life and are fraught with significance as well as

emotion (Williams).According to the Poetry Foundation, he sees death “with a poise that is intellectual

as well as emotional”. To accommodate for the impending future, he lived a modest life through loving

and living. In his poem To Daffodils, he compares human life to daffodils, which shows

how short the human lifespan is, with the line “We have short time to stay, as you”. Herrick also he responds to the prospect of his inevitable death by affirming life, but life lived modestly and taken as it

comes, the bad with the good (poetry foundation).


A man who stated his thoughts rather than being interpreted through poetry and novels was

Thomas Hobbes.According to Williams, Hobbes was founding father of modern political philosophy.

He was an english philosopher who was known for his political thought(Williams). He had many ideas

about human nature and wrote about them in his book Leviathan. Hobbes makes a list of thirty six

different passions in Leviathan.
Examples of his ideas were:
(Chapter 11)
Happiness is a continual progress of desires from one object to another, the...

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