Themes of Romanticism in Netflix Original Show Lucifer and in Mathilda by Mary Shelly: Critical Analysis

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Romanticism is an artistic, literary, musical and intellectual movement that changes the way people think about certain things in society. The idea of romanticism has been around for centuries but was it's peak from 1800 to 1850 during the industrial revolution. We see themes of romanticism in all kinds of literature. Even today, some of those themes are hidden in your favorite tv shows, movies, books, art, and other forms of entertainment. Furthermore, the netflix original show Lucifer is a prime example of a piece that is not in the romanticism era, but contains themes of romanticism. Lucifer is about a man named Lucifer Morningstar who is literally the devil. He abandoned hell to live in Los Angeles where he runs his own nightclub called Lux. He goes about his life partying carelessly until he meets a detective named Chloe Decker who he falls heavily for. He starts to work as her partner in the LAPD because of his special gift. The whole time he is honest with the detective about is true identity, but the detective thinks lucifer is just using it as a metaphor. The more time they spend together, the more intense their emotions get. Lucifer portrayed many prominent themes of romanticism. It includes, desire, emotionalism, and sense and sensibility. Some of these themes also appear in Mathilda by Mary Shelly. In Mathilda we also see desire, emotionalism, and sense and sensenalism. All of these themes overlap each other, but some are more exaggerated than others.

Lucifer works with the LAPD because he has a special talent. He has the ability to bring out what someone most desires. He simply gazes into a person’s eyes and soul and asks what it is they most desire. No one knows how he does it but the LAPD lets him be partners with Detective Decker because he is helpful. The entire time that Lucifer is exposing other people’s desires, he is fighting his own. He is deeply in love with Detective Decker and desires nothing more than to be with her. This feels impossible to him because he thinks because he is the devil she will never love him. This only makes him crave her love more. The power of Lucifer’s desire to be with Detective Decker drove him to blindly jeopardize multiple cases and his partnership with the detective. He is so focused on winning her over that he takes advantage of cases by asking suspects personal questions in which he is trying to get answers for his own problems such as his relationship with detective Decker. This is similar to how Mathilda desired her father in Mathilda. Mathilda spent 16 years waiting for her dad which only made her long for him even more. She expresses her emotions about finally hearing from her dad. “It was on my sixteenth birthday that my aunt received a letter from my father. I cannot describe the tumult of emotions that arose within me as I read it. It was dated from London; he had returned! I could only relieve my transports by tears, tears of unmingled joy.” (Shelly, shapter 3) It seemed as if Mathilda’s father wanted nothing to do with her when he left, and like Lucifer, this only made Mathilda’s desire increase. Unlike in Mathilda, in Lucifer, desire is used only to dramatize Lucifers character. It adds a contrasting characteristic to Lucifer that makes him distinct from the other characters. Desire can alter the victim’s judgement and make it cloudy with intense emotions. Which leads to the next theme of romanticism, emotionalism.

Emotionalism is the tender feelings of affection and deep longing. It was a lage theme within all kinds of artforms during the romanticism era. It emphasized sorrow and longing and isolated characters in alienated settings. This sentimental aspect is a romantic trait that is foreign to most modern literature. In Lucifer we see many characters express these types of intense emotions. For example, before Lucifer finally builds the courage to confess his love to Detective Decker, she gets back together with her ex husband. After he sees Detective Decker with her husband he flees to his Lux Night Club. At Lux he has a personal bar in the loft upstairs. This is the type of isolated setting that characters were placed in during the romantic era. In episode 6 of season 4 Lucifer tells himself, “ I find it impossible to drown out the cacophony of voices telling me I’m evil. I'm drowning! Why do I hate myself so much!?!” He practically falls apart while spending hours wallowing and drinking the heaviest liquor he can get his hands on. We also see this type of isolation in Mathilda. Mathilda says, “My chamber was in a retired part of the house, and looked upon the garden so that no sound of the other inhabitants could reach it; and here in perfect solitude I wept for several hours. When a servant came to ask me if I would take food I learnt from him that my father had returned, and was apparently well and this relieved me from a load of anxiety, yet I did not cease to weep bitterly. As [At] first, as the memory of former happiness contrasted to my present despair came across me, I gave relief to the oppression of heart that I felt by words, and groans, and heart rending sighs: but nature became wearied, and this more violent grief gave place to a passionate but mute flood of tears: my whole soul seemed to dissolve [in] them. I did not wring my hands, or tear my hair, or utter wild exclamations, but as Boccacio describes the intense and quiet grief [of] Sigismunda over the heart of Guiscardo, I sat with my hands folded, silently letting fall a perpetual stream from my eyes. Such was the depth of my emotion that I had no feeling of what caused my distress, my thoughts even wandered to many indifferent objects; but still neither moving limb or feature my tears fell until, as if the fountains were exhausted, they gradually subsided, and I awoke to life as from a dream.” (Shelly, chapter 6) After Mathilda’s father raped her, she spiraled into a pit of misery. She couldn't bear to see her father so she secluded herself in her “chamber”. She then goes on to narrate her depthful emotions with passionate phrases like “violent grief” and “mute flood of tears”. Occasionally, fervent emotions like the ones seen in Mathilda and Lucifer lead character to experience another theme of romanticism. This time it's sense and sensibility.

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Sense refers to how a person perceives the physical world meaning the five senses. Sensibility is the ability to perceive and feel. The notion of love can overpower a person's sensibility. Which is what happens in both Lucifer and Mathilda. Lucifer was so in love with Detective Decker that he was willing to reveal his darkest secret. Reminder that humans were not supposed to know about

higher powers. This shows just how much love can contradict a person’s senses and make them vulnerable to making risky decisions. This happens in Mathilda. Mathilda’s father is so blinded by his love and urge for Mathilda that he rapes her. Mathilda confronts her father for distancing himself from her to which he replied 'He snatched his hand from me, and rose in violent disorder: 'but your words I cannot bear; soon they will make me mad, quite mad, and then I shall utter strange words, and you will believe them, and we shall be both lost forever. I tell you I am on the very verge of insanity; why, cruel girl, do you drive me on: you will repent and I shall die.” (Shelly, chapter 7). After this he rapes Mathilda and follows with 'The danger is over; she is alive! Oh, Mathilda, lift up those dear eyes in the light of which I live. Let me hear the sweet tones of your beloved voice in peace and calm. Monster as I am, you are still, as you ever were, lovely, beautiful beyond expression. What I have become since this last moment I know not; perhaps I am changed in mien as the fallen archangel. I do believe I am for I have surely a new soul within me, and my blood riots through my veins: I am burnt up with fever. But these are precious moments; devil as I am become, yet that is my Mathilda before me whom I love as one was never before loved: and she knows it now.” (Shelly, chapter 7). Mathilda’s Father is not the only one who’s sensibility is affected by love. She herself experiences odd feelings due to the tragic event. Despite the fact that her father raped her, she never ceases to love him. She devotes the rest of her life to mourning for his loss. Once he died she lost sense of the world around her. She felt as if her only purpose in life was to mourn. Eventually so much constant pain drove Mathilda to suicidal thoughts. Mathilda says to Woodville “I wept and said, 'Oh, pardon me! You are good and kind but I am not fit for life. Why am I obliged to live? To drag hour after hour, to see the trees wave their branches restlessly, to feel the air, & to suffer in all I feel keenest agony. My frame is strong, but my soul sinks beneath this endurance of living anguish. Death is the goal that I would attain.” (Shelly, chapter 10)This is an example of how love overpowered Mathilda’s sensibility.

Although Mathilda and Lucifer share similar romanticism ideals, Lucifer was not written during the romantic era. Therefore it is not considered a romantic artifact. Unlike in Mathilda where romantic themes are intentionally included, the themes of romanticism in Lucifer are simply used to dramatize Lucifer’s character. For example, Lucifer’s power of desire is used as dramatic irony. The audience knows that Lucifer is literally the devil while characters around him believe he is using his true identity as a metaphor for his life. Lucifer and Mathilda have many similar themes that can be classified as themes of romanticism, but ultimately only Mathilda can be considered a romantic novel. This is because the themes in Lucifer are not meant to be romantic. They are simply included to add an element of depth to the series.

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Themes of Romanticism in Netflix Original Show Lucifer and in Mathilda by Mary Shelly: Critical Analysis. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 26, 2024, from
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