Percy Shelley and His Use of Romantic Elements

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Romanticism, an intellectual and cultural movement during the late 18th to 19th century that followed the Age of Enlightenment, could be described as a rebellion against the social and political norms of the aristocratic society. Merriam-Webster defines Romanticism as “a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement originating in the 18th century, characterized chiefly by a reaction against neoclassicism and an emphasis on the imagination and emotions (Romanticism)”. Historians oftentimes have reflected upon the conscious rejection of conventional societal manners as a characteristic of young poets (Spielvogel 657). Contrary to the rationalistic approach to thought that was typical of the Age of Enlightenment, Romantic literature focused upon human emotion, freedom of thought, individualism, self-reflection and the adoration of the ordinary. Romantic poetry also served as a way to express one of the foremost “characteristics of Romanticism: love of nature” (Spielvogel 658.) Intuition, free expression of emotion and thought, a return to the sacramental connection with nature and the belief in the goodness of humankind were all critical elements within much of the literature of this time. Percy Bysshe Shelley, a classic example of a Romantic poet, contributed immensely to the legacy of Romanticism. Critical writer Tel Asiado states, “[h]is poems over flow with intense emotional and radical ideas” (Asiado).

During Shelley’s life, he composed many impressive works of poetry that were characterized by the freedom of thought, human emotion, individualism, reflection on the past, thoughts on humanity and dynamic power of nature. Although Matthew Arnold labeled him an "ineffectual angel," 20th-century critics have taken Shelley s...

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