The French Revolutions Impact On Romantics

The French Revolution is undoubtedly one of the most influential events in Europe during the late 18th century, with lasting concepts in politics, culture, and literature. During this period, Romantic poetry arose and introduced a generation of authors that each uniquely portrayed their own perspectives on the revolution through their works. Some poets referenced a more concrete political standpoint, while others went towards a more intangible concept of freedom and equality. The works written by authors: William Wordsworth and Mary Wollstonecraft, reflect the social uproar of not only their own feelings and worries, but also the general consensus of concerns throughout Europe during the revolution. Wordsworth’s Lines/ Tintern Abbey and Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of The Rights of Woman present how the French Revolution played a key role in producing the overall idea of universal equality.

Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman expresses her view on how the revolution must include reformation to the social and political expectations of women in both society and their at home/ personal lives. The French revolution majorly influenced how Wollstonecraft felt about the education women were given, or rather more so the lack of education received. In the time period Wollstonecraft lived in, education was meant to better befit women for their roles as wives and companions for men. In the introduction of A Vindication of Rights of Women she critiques women’s education: “I attribute [these problems] to a false system of education, gathered from the books written on this subject by men, who, considering females rather as women than human creatures, have been more anxious to make them alluring mistresses than affectionate wives and rational mothers”. (Wollstonecraft, 213) This translates to how and what is taught to females, they are taught beauty over brains, and levels of grace that are almost impossible to attain in any time period. Mary Wollstonecraft was a very educated women, her education background can be compared to that of what men received since she was taught book smarts over how to be physically appealing to others. She thought if other women were fortunate enough to have opportunities in education such as herself, women would become great members of society becoming equal to men.

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To Mary Wollstonecraft, men’s motive is to always keep women feeling weak and submissive; so beauty and seduction were given as qualities that “real” women should consist of. But in doing so this gave men like Edmund Burke an example of the “perfect” chivalric society. Instead of showing that being brilliant and taking all matters into ones hands can be qualities that a woman should feel proud to have, the opposite was what a woman should strive for. Wollstonecraft stood for all qualities of women whether it be beauty, seduction, brilliance, or any qualities outside of Burke’s appealing categories. In Vindicating Mary Wollstonecraft it is written “she had distinguished two categories: the sublime of the strong-willed, educated, struggling woman and the beautiful of the faint-hearted passive [woman]. The underlying insight of Wollstonecraft’s writings on the French Revolution is that the beautiful woman is no longer a viable aesthetic category”. (Moers, 445) Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women argues that once the idea of women just being beautiful can be left behind, the altering of a woman’s education can lead to the idea of universal equality. In her work the significance of the revolution is shown in her own portrayal of the existential woman. Wollstonecraft argues that a women’s qualities including their minds are just as capable of smarts and reasoning as a mans if only given the chance.  

William Wordsworth goes the more personal route on his position on the French Revolution in his poems written during the time period. Lines was written towards the end of the revolution, which will show the effects Wordsworth has experienced with the revolution. The poem itself was written to show the loss of innocence along with the loss of ones dreams; connecting to his actual life, he had “lost” his dreams and ideas that were born from the revolution which were lacking of his expectations. William Wordsworth prefers and even longs for the time before the uprising in France, “That time is past, And all its aching joys are now no more… for such a loss”. (Wordsworth, 83, 84, 87) He proceeds to state that when growing up, a person loses their dreams. His connection to nature is shown that in order to cope with these feelings he needs a sense of comfort from an outside source, a source that would not disappoint him as others have. Although he may not always be present at “Tintern Abbey” he always has his “safe place” in his mind. With the notion of losing one’s dreams comes the state of loneliness, which Wordsworth embodies in lines 21-22 as a hermit. He uses the tone of seclusion and isolation to solidate his point of losing everything, when it comes to a person’s hopes and dreams to even the people around them.

Wordsworth’s perception of humanity in “Lines/Tintern Abbey” relates to the real life events happening during the French Revolution. He refers to nature yet again in stanza four, “for I have learned to look on nature… but hearing at oftentimes the still, sad music of humanity”. (Wordsworth, 88, 90-91) He views nature as an escape of all conflicts, and believes that with the love of nature can lead to the love of mankind; both in his poem and in the events unfolding before him in his own life. Lines demonstrates how the revolution influenced Wordsworth’s works and personal life, he shifted tones during the time in his writings. Just as the political and social upheaval that was rapidly developing and bringing disarray to the minds of many, in the poem “everything else has been erased-   the abbey, the beggars and displaced vagrants, all that civilized culture creates and destroys, gets and spends. We are not permitted to remember 1793 hopes nor- what is more to the point for Wordsworth- the subsequent ruin of those hopes”. (Richey,197) This displays the effects figuratively and literally of what the end result of a revolt can really do, “erase and fall apart”. Although the time period of the revolution influenced William Wordsworth negatively and positively showing his loss of hope for humanity, it also shows his gaining of hope in nature and essentially himself; which like the revolution was an emergence of ethicality.

With the essence of the French Revolution came an influence on Romanticism itself. Romanticism originated during the same time as the French Revolution, and continued to develop in response to the effects of the social transformation; the transformation became inspiring to the writes of the romantic genre, especially since they valued and composed based off of the idea of individuality. The concept of freedom was something that writers along with “normal” citizens were not used to; a new found glory. Writers of the time had a creative take on the freshly gained independence and finally had the opportunity to share what they had to say with the world. With still following the laws, authors were given more leeway to truly express themselves. Which in turn changed the way people had thought about and the standard for literature.

In the eighteenth century, writers of the romantic genre were heavily influenced by events happening socially around them such as the French revolution. The revolution was unique in the sense that it was not only national but fully intended to benefit all humanity. Yet the revolutions outcome was not equivalent to the expectations of the people; including writers. It seemed that the resulting dictatorship of the revolution exchanged the owning class aristocracy for military dictatorship (another owning class). Universal equality was the overall idea for the French Revolution and while the result didn’t live up to expectations, a republic was established, a radical social change was introduced, and romanticism continued to rise.

Asthma Pathology Profile

The symptoms of asthma include chest pain, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing. These symptoms are caused by the constriction of the airways and excess mucus production. Asthma symptoms vary in each person; some may experience symptoms only while exercising, while others experience symptoms every day (Mayo Clinic Staff). Therefore, in some people asthma is a major problem that seriously impacts their life, while in others it is just a minor problem. A physician will commonly diagnose a patient with asthma by doing a spirometry test or a peak flow test and asking about the patient’s symptoms. A spirometry test measures how much air a patient can exhale and how fast he or she breathes it out. The physician will calculate a predicted value for test scores based on age, gender, height, and other factors. If the patient’s test result is 80% or more of the predicted value it is “normal” and if results are below that, it indicates lung disease or that damage has occurred to the patient’s lungs. A peak flow test measures how fast a patient can breathe out. If this number is low, it indicates that the patient’s lungs are not functioning normally (Mayo Clinic Staff).

Physiological basis of the Pathology

In the lungs, inhaled allergens get checked by immune cells when antigen presenting cells present allergens to immune cells. In people without asthma, immune cells check the allergen and then disregard it in many cases. In people with asthma, the immune system has a reaction to this allergen. The immune cells of the lungs create inflammation in response and that makes the airways narrower and more difficult to breathe through: this is an asthma attack (“Pathophysiology of Asthma). Eosinophils are abundant in the tissues of the lungs and release their granules when they are presented with an environmental trigger. These granules contain things like histamine and platelet activating factor which cause inflammation. The release of granules also causes the smooth muscle around the bronchioles to spasm and secrete mucus which narrows the airways even more. Substances that trigger these attacks can be air pollution, smoke, dust, mold, and pet dander (Morris). Patients with asthma have inflamed airways that are hypersensitive to allergens or triggers. Patients without asthma do not have hypersensitive airways, which is why they can inhale these allergens and have no reaction to it.

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It is thought that children exposed to bacteria early in life will have less risk of developing hypersensitive airways. This is because early exposure to a lot of bacteria keeps the immune cells in regulation and keeps them from becoming hyperactive. The exposure to bacteria also prevents immune cells from becoming dominate in allergic responses. The humoral immune system is in the lungs and protects them from inhaled pathogens. It is what contributes to reoccurring asthma attacks. The humoral immune system defends the body against inhaled pathogens by creating antibodies to fight against them. Once an inhaled pathogen causes an immune response, it will continue to cause successive immune responses. The humoral immune system antibodies remember these pathogens and attack them when they are inhaled again. These inhaled pathogens become triggers for the patient, meaning they will cause an asthma attack when the patient inhales them, making it important that the patient avoids their known triggers (“Pathophysiology of Asthma).

Risk Factors of the Pathology

Risk factors for asthma can be a genetic predisposition or from environmental factors. If a patient has a family history of asthma, it increases his or her chances of developing asthma. This is an intrinsic factor that is out of the patient’s control. Environmental factors are extrinsic and can be somewhat controlled by the patient avoiding triggers. Patients that are not exposed to bacteria, and viruses early in life have an increased susceptibility to develop asthma. This reduced exposure varies the proportion of immune cells so they are more reactive in protective responses. Early onset asthma is usually a result of genetic factors, while later onset asthma is due to environmental factors (Morris). Both of these factors increase the hypersensitivity of the airways, making asthma attacks more common.


Treatment for asthma is preventative along with medication that is taken long term. Preventatively, patients must monitor their breathing and avoid triggers that may lead to an asthma attack. Patients can monitor their breathing daily at home using handheld meters that measure their airflow, such as a peak flow meter. Along with preventative care, long-term medications are taken to control a patient’s asthma, and quick relief inhalers are taken during an asthma attack. Long-term medications are usually inhaled corticosteroids which decrease the chance of having an asthma attack. They control asthma symptoms by decreasing the reactivity of the airways, so when a pathogen is inhaled, the steroid reduces the inflammation and mucus production. Since these symptoms are reduced, the patient can breathe while they inhale the pathogen that might normally have caused an asthma attack. Corticosteroids are considered a long-term drug for asthma patients because it takes a while for them to work. Therefore, they are preventative to help reduce asthma attacks, but if a patient has an asthma attack, he or she will take a quick relief inhaler (“Asthma TreatmentDrugs). Quick relief inhalers are usually albuterol or Xopenex, which relieve symptoms quickly when inhaled. They are bronchodilators which allow the patient to breathe better (Mayo Clinic Staff). These bronchodilators widen the patients’ airways which allows them to breathe easier and relieves the constriction caused by their attack. There is no cure for asthma, but medication and preventative measures can usually can control asthma.

Long-Term Prognosis

The prognosis of a patient with asthma is good if the patient treats their asthma. Even with treated asthma, a patient may miss work or school occasionally due to an attack. When children receive treatment for their asthma, it usually improves by late adolescence. Long-term with no treatment, patients can develop changes to their airways which could lead to chronic symptoms and more difficulty controlling the disease with treatment options. Over time, the airway begins to scar, and the membrane begins to thicken, which is irreversible. Patients who do not receive treatment are at a greater risk of mortality than those who receive treatment and control their asthma, although the mortality rate of asthma is low (Morris).

Significance of the Pathology

Asthma affects 16.4 million adults and seven million children in the United States, which is approximately ten percent of the population. In the United States, the mortality rate of asthma is higher in African Americans than in Caucasians. This difference in mortality is not only due to genetics but also due to affordability of treatment. It is suspected that minorities have a higher mortality rate because they struggle more to afford treatment (Morris). Preadolescence asthma occurs more often in boys than girls. In both cases, boys and girls are likely to experience a decrease or even disappearance of symptoms by age eighteen. Therefore, most patients with asthma are diagnosed at a young age. Asthma is more commonly diagnosed in industrialized nations where there is air pollution, smoking, and environmental allergens.

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