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Romanticism, in a way, was a reaction against rigid Classicism, Rationalism, and Deism of the eighteenth century. Strongest in application between 1800 and 1850, the Romantic Movement differed from country to country and from romanticist to romanticist. Because it emphasized change it was an atmosphere in which events occurred and came to affect not only the way humans thought and expressed them, but also the way they lived socially and politically (Abrams, M.H. Pg. 13). “Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental,” (Thompson, E.P. Pg. 108-109). Among the characteristic attitudes of Romanticism were the following: a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature; a general exaltation of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect; a turning in upon the self and heightened examination of human personality and its moods and mental potentialities; a preoccupation with genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his passions and inner struggles; a new view of the artist as a supremely individual creator, whose creative spirit is more important that strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures; an obsessive interest in folk culture, national and ethnic cultural origins, and the medieval era; and a fondness for the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the weird, the monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic.(Barzun, Jaques. Pg 157-159) Romanticism was preceded by several related developments from the mid-18th century that can be called Pre-Romanticism. Among such trends was a new appreciation of the medieval romance, from which the Romantic Movement derives its name. (Abrams,M.H. Pg. 261) The romance was a tale or ballad of chivalric adventure whose emphasis on individual heroism and on the exotic and mysterious was in clear contrast to the elegant formality and artificiality of widespread Classical forms of literature, such as French Neoclassical tragedy. This new interest in relatively unsophisticated but emotional literary expressions of the past was to be a dominant note in Romanticism. (Frenz, Horst and Stallknecht, Newton P. pgs 70-73) Romanticism in English literature began in the 1790’s was the publication of Lyrical Ballads written by William Wordsworth an...

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...nse de Lamartine, Alfred de Musset, Stendhal, Prosper Mérimée, Alexandre Dumas (Dumas Père), and Théophile Gautier in France. Alessandro Manzoni and Giacomo Leopardi in Italy; Aleksandr Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov in Russia; José de Espronceda and Ángel de Saavedra in Spain; Adam Mickiewicz in Poland; and almost all of the important writers in pre-Civil War America.(Frenz, Horst and Stallknecht, Newton P.) Romanticism destroyed the clear simplicity and unity of thought which characterized the eighteenth century. There was no longer one philosophy, which expressed all the aims and ideals of Western Civilization. Romanticism provided a more complex, but truer, view of the real world.


Abrams, M.H. Natural Supernaturalism. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1971.

Barzun, Jaques. Classic Romantic and Modern. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1943.

Frenz, Horst & Stallknecht, Newton P. Comparative Literature. London: Feffer & Simons, Inc, 1971

Thompson, E.P. The Romantics: England in a Revolutionary Age. New York: The New Press, 1997.

Walling, William, Kroeber, Karl. Images of Romanticism: Verbal and Visual. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1978.