This essay examines two poems depicting human anguish in order to explore a current in Romantic thought that implicitly yields some original and compelling insights regarding the problematic relationship between art and suffering. The focus is primarily on Wordsworth's narrative of Margaret's suffering in The Excursion, then more briefly on Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. In both cases Kant's ideas about the sublime provide us with a useful perspective from which to understand the issues these poems raise.
Copyright © 1998, University Press of America. This chapter first appeared in Romanticism Across the Disciplines.
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Givens, Terryl, and Anthony P. Russell. "Romantic Agonies: Human Suffering and the Ethical Sublime." In Romanticism Across the Disciplines, edited by Larry H. Peer, 231-53. Lanham: University Press of America, 1998.