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English Romanticism
1798-1832
How poets such as Blake,
Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Keats
shaped literature during the most
revolutionary time in English
history.
What is Romanticism?
“I felt before I thought”
--Jean Jacques Rousseau
Romantic poets believed that one should
write from their emotions and initial
feelings on certain topics, rather than
THINK about the topic and its impact
and/or consequences.
Romantic Style


First Appearance: German songs and
Ballads in the late 18th century.
Throwback to traditional literature of
Medieval Times
 Unrequited Love (murder and suicide)
 Chivalry (Was chivalry dead?)
Romanticism


Revolved around one’s personal life and
personal experiences.
Involved themes such as:





Frenzy
Melancholy
World-Weariness
Fear
Self-Destruction
WHY??
What was everyone so
depressed about?
Romantic Style
Romantic poets emphasized content
over form!!







Less rhyming & meter (Chaucer/Shakespeare)
More plot-driven (narrative)
More action
More emotion & feeling
Complex characters
Less/Absence of God
Alternatives to organized religion
Themes of Romanticism
Libertarianism/Individualism
 Nature
 Lure of the Exotic
 Supernatural

Libertarianism/Individualism


Born out of “Age of Enlightenment”
Desire to be free from tyranny and
oppression



Monarchies
Feudal System
Overthrow/Change the government

American & French Revolution
Libertarianism/Individualism

Focus on the influence of the Industrial
Revolution and the “Urban Sprawl”



Criticism of Urban Society




Filth from pollution from factories/human waste
Moving into “nature” and away from cities
Filth in the streets and factories
Influence of poverty and the poor
Poor living/working conditions & child labor
“A Modest Proposal”—Jonathan Swift (1732)
brought up idea originally (rich vs. poor)
Nature


Natural and picturesque surroundings in the
country (away from urban misery)
Emphasis to move away from the cities to the
country.




Healthier
Less stress
Melancholy, sometimes laid-back themes
Life needs to be changed for the better—make
it better for the individual
Lure of the Exotic

Introductions of other societies







Oriental culture (Chinese, Japanese, etc.)
East Indian culture
Native Caribbean culture
How does the aristocracy live in other
cultures? Corrupt? Dishonest?
Disconnected? (to its people).
Creation of locations with ornate descriptions
Recall from the Gothic past (Medieval Times)
Leads to the expanse of the “supernatural”
The Supernatural


Irrational states of being (states of mind)
Based on old folk tales and ballads from
medieval and post-medieval literature




Hans Christian Andersen (Dutch)
Brothers Grimm (German)
Fascinated with self-identity (analysis of self
within the self—philosophy?)
Beginning of the creation of monsters (ex:
Frankenstein monster)

Symbolism for the corruption of the
mind/humanity or states of mind/humanity
Review





Romanticism has to do with feelings not
thoughts
Emphasis on medieval literature
Melancholy and laid back themes
Less form: rhyming, meters; more plot-driven,
more developed characters, more actions,
emotions, feelings, etc.
Main themes:




Libertarianism/Individualism
Nature
Lure of the Exotic
Supernatural