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The Destruction of Responsibility: Cromwell vs. Charles II

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  1. Introduction
  2. Andrew Marvell's 'An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return From Ireland'
  3. Characteristics of Cromwell and Charles II
  4. Conclusion

With England left as a leaderless country following the trial and beheading of King Charles I, the country was eagerly searching for a resolution to its problems. Oliver Cromwell emerged as England's leader from the Revolution and strove to have a close, relatable relationship with the English people. However, it was obvious that the Cromwell and England's newly established republic was not the transition that was needed at the time. Charles II effortlessly achieved the image and ease of leadership that Cromwell was constantly striving for. The new King was a man of the people and a true cavalier, ushering in the freedom that England needed. After attempting to create an English republic, it became apparent that in order to destroy structure and responsibility within England, it would have to restore its monarchy.

Andrew Marvell's ?An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return From Ireland? introduces Oliver Cromwell to the English stage. Like typical odes, the intention of the poem is to elevate Cromwell and praise his actions, as well as his intentions for the country following the English Revolution. Emerging at the end of the civil war, Cromwell ascended the ranks of English leadership through his military excellence. Coming from seemingly nowhere, Oliver Cromwell was chosen to lead England in its attempt to do away with the monarchy. As the new ?Instrument of Government,? Cromwell rejected the idea of a ?head? of government and wanted the people of England to be their own leaders. Though Oliver Cromwell tried to destroy the vision of monarchial responsibility throughout England, he instead molded the old conceptions of a king to fit his new role.

As one of the top generals throughout the Civil War, Oliver Cromwell was increasingly looked to for leadership and ideas to rehabilitate the war-torn country. Though he is introduced as the ?forward youth? in Marvell's poem, he is further characterized as nothing of the sort. Both in the poem and throughout England at the time, Cromwell is thought of as a paternalistic protector, a father to England's struggling people (Gillespie, 4/14/09). Scholar turned military hero, Cromwell forsakes everything, leaving his ?books in dust? to take charge of a leaderless England (Marvell 835). Throughout Marvell's poem, masculine and elevated diction is used that portrays this masculine identity. Though primarily described as a youth, he is instead further portrayed as restless and eager; he was a man ready to rise in power and create a new type of government.

[...] Though Cromwell wanted to destroy the sense of structure and responsibility in England, Charles II took this idea to extremes. In Horatian Marvell does his best to build up Cromwell as England's leader. However in Character of King Charles Savile does the exact opposite and explains the lack of mysticism surrounding the character of King Charles II. Whereas Cromwell insisted to be painted ?warts and King Charles II was already on the level of the people as was shown and defended through his life and the text. [...]

[...] Like in many other aspects, King Charles II exhibited the characteristics of what Cromwell strove to be. Though Cromwell was described as an eager youth in Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell's Return to Ireland,? it was King Charles II's youth and carefree attitude that effortlessly gained the approval of England's people. The constant association with England's leaders and the gods followed Cromwell and contrasted the characterization that he had attempted to build of himself. On the other hand, this demi-god image did not follow Charles to the thrown. [...]

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