The 18th century: Neoclassicism – The Augustan Age – The Transition/ Pre-romantic Age. The 18th century is known as The Age of Enlightenment or The Age of reason, to stress the rational trend of the period and the attitude according to which reason and judgement should be the guiding principles for human activities .
It saw the birth of a new literary movement: Neoclassicism or Rationalism. This movement was greatly influenced by the ideas of John Locke and Isaac Newton. The importance of Newton is clearly seen in the epitaph written by Alexander Pope: “Nature and Nature’s laws lay hid in night; God said,’ Let Newton be! The Enlightenment Period. According to The Oxford Guide to Philosophy, "'Enlightenment' contrasts with the darkness of irrationality and superstition that supposedly characterized the Middle Ages" (252).
The text lists several central tenets of Enlightenment thought: Reason is man's central capacity, and it enables him no only to think, but to act, correctly. Both an indivual and humanity as a whole can progress to perfection. All men (including, the view of many, women) are equal in respect of their rationality, and should thus be granted equality before the law and individual liberty. Tolerance is to be extended to other creeds and ways of life.