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Romantic Era Literature Essay Introduction

The Romantic Period Essay

1055 Words5 Pages

The Romantic Period

The Romantic Period began in the mid-eighteenth century and extended into the

nineteenth century. Romanticism was about creative thinking, “thinking outside the box”,

completely contradicting Neoclassicism, which was about straight forward thinking,

“thinking inside the box”. It was a philosophical movement that redefined the

fundamental ways of what people thought about themselves and the world around them.

The Romantic period overlapped with the “age of revolution”, which included the

American (1776) and the French (1789) revolutions. This was a time of change, where

new skeptical ideas were “in” and old traditional ones were “out”. In romanticism poetry

came new concepts, like the…show more content…

In the first stanza he

uses a wide range of imagery to create a visual image of an autumn

landscape:

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, / Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; / Conspiring with him how to load and bless / With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run; / To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, / And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; / To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells / With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, / And still more, later flowers for the bees, / Until they think warm days will never cease, / For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells,”(line 1-11).

William Blake’s writing style in the poem, “The Lamb”, creates a mood that allows the

reader when reading poem to picture a little fluffy white lamb playing in a green

meadow. In the lines, “Give thee such a tender voice, / Making all the vales rejoice?”(line

7-8), Blake puts the reader in a sort of melancholy mood as if they could actually hear the

lamb’s beautiful voice. The poem, “Daffodils”, by William Wordsworth creates mental

images for the reader through his use of similes and personification. In the first line, “I

wandered lonely as a cloud”, Wordsworth presents a simile comparing himself to a cloud.

This gives the

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Introduction

The Romantic movement, which originated in Germany but quickly spread to England, France, and beyond, reached America around the year 1820, some 20 years after William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge had revolutionized English poetry by publishing Lyrical Ballads. In America as in Europe, fresh new vision electrified artistic and intellectual circles. Yet there was an important difference: Romanticism in America coincided with the period of national expansion and the discovery of a distinctive American voice. The solidification of a national identity and the surging idealism and passion of Romanticism nurtured the masterpieces of "the American Renaissance."

Romantic ideas centered around art as inspiration, the spiritual and aesthetic dimension of nature, and metaphors of organic growth. Art, rather than science, Romantics argued, could best express universal truth. The Romantics underscored the importance of expressive art for the individual and society. In his essay "The Poet" (1844), Ralph Waldo Emerson, perhaps the most influential writer of the Romantic era, asserts:

For all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in politics, in labor, in games, we study to utter our painful secret. The man is only half himself, the other half is his expression.

The development of the self became a major theme; self- awareness a primary method. If, according to Romantic theory, self and nature were one, self-awareness was not a selfish dead end but a mode of knowledge opening up the universe. If one's self were one with all humanity, then the individual had a moral duty to reform social inequalities and relieve human suffering. The idea of "self" -- which suggested selfishness to earlier generations -- was redefined. New compound words with positive meanings emerged: "self-realization," "self-expression," "self- reliance."

As the unique, subjective self became important, so did the realm of psychology. Exceptional artistic effects and techniques were developed to evoke heightened psychological states. The "sublime" -- an effect of beauty in grandeur (for example, a view from a mountaintop) -- produced feelings of awe, reverence, vastness, and a power beyond human comprehension.

Romanticism was affirmative and appropriate for most American poets and creative essayists. America's vast mountains, deserts, and tropics embodied the sublime. The Romantic spirit seemed particularly suited to American democracy: It stressed individualism, affirmed the value of the common person, and looked to the inspired imagination for its aesthetic and ethical values. Certainly the New England Transcendentalists -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and their associates -- were inspired to a new optimistic affirmation by the Romantic movement. In New England, Romanticism fell upon fertile soil.

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