romanticism in english literature

romanticism in english literature

Exploring Romanticism in English Literature

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1. Introduction to Romanticism

In Exploring English Literature, it is generally undisputed that the Romantic period experienced a significant transformation in literature, science, government, and the arts. This transformation emerged from various earlier movements such as the Enlightenment and impending mutation into the concept of Victorianism. The Romantic forces were prominently visible in literature of the time. This period’s mainstream literature was influential in fueling liberal and democratic tendencies. Popular themes hyped personal freedom, political change, and choice of self. A key factor in its popularity was the norm of government with central powers, especially the one discovered in early British parliamentarians. Uprisings, insurgencies, riots, and change were common. Romantic authors used the rapid growth of the novel format to voice their socio-political opinions.

Romantic literature portrayed an emphasis on imaginative and emotional qualities of individuals, the omnipotence of nature, and showing of rebellion and a disposition for the wild and irrational. Imagination played an essential and creative task in the Romantic artists. The creative and imaginative nature of Romanticism can be seen through the development of music, literature, visual arts, and poetry of the time period. The artistic nature of Romantic artists was focused on pushing the boundaries of the artists’ individual conventions, taste, and minds. The Romantic era in literature was initiated in the later part of the eighteenth century and extended up to the mid-nineteenth century. It emerged as a tumultuous period conditioned by socio-economic gains, burgeoning political thought, and the rapid growth of the scientific mind. Previously revered ideas lost credibility as the consequences of industrialization and urbanization altered society.

2. Key Characteristics of Romanticism in English Literature

Social concerns and explicitly political concerns are also important to the Romantic poets, and so common that the period is regarded as a generally political one, but survive mainly as concerns for the worth of the individual. In general, Romantic political statements outstrip the poetry. Other historical, social, nationalistic and personal themes are those often linked to the psychological interpretation that the solitariness of the poet brings them, such as history in the sense of interest in one’s own time and generally in one’s roots. Since part of survival literature is thought to be this continuance of a community’s memory in poetry, much of Romantic literature is grounded in an attempt to express eternal themes for one’s nation. The Romantic poets often turn to folklore as part of their attempt seek an authorial position independent of poet and any political cause, including but not limited to literary tradition.

Romanticism continued the characteristic romantic ideals of individuality and a return to nature when this tradition overcame neoclassicism by including new perspectives such as memory, historicism, and man’s typical psychological perception of sense experience (or sensibility). Nature poets like Wordsworth and Keats stay firm models. Although Romanticism grew to include a broad list of concerns, both old and new as held by Coleridge, the theory of relief playing an important role in directing expression to subtle ends also remained a constant throughout this expansion. Coleridge’s theory of relief can be used to account for those so famous, characteristic themes of Romantic poetry as the spotlighting of the solitary individual, the reduction of appearances to essential or ideal states, the frequent attempts to evoke dream states, and the emphasis on expression as such, which is claimed to contribute to the revelation of spirit.

3. Major Romantic Poets and Writers

Our attention shall focus only on the poetry of the earliest of the Romantics, hoping that they shall represent not only themselves but shall stand as the representative of the other Georgian poets as well as the subsequent romantic poets. In experimenting with themes and forms, many restrictions from the immediate past were shed away and the poet found a new status in life. As they realized this prestige and the exercise of power both in the social as well as in the literary plane, the poets discussed with great joy and bitterness regarding the responsibilities of the artist.

Being aware of the historical background, the readers of the literature of the period and also of the present times have a better appreciation of the literary achievements. As we know from the lecture notes on literature, every age produces its own best in literature. Because of that, it is inevitable that an era would present values and conduct which are essentially different from those of its predecessor. In marking one of the series, Romanticism presents the age where rules were broken, and more and more revolutionary tendencies were felt. As in music, where emotions and the expression of inner feelings found fertile soil, in literature, too, such a furore was experienced. The torrent of these feelings led to this upheaval, both in regard to form and the content of the writings appearing in all forms and styles.

4. Themes and Motifs in Romantic Literature

The artist was no longer an individual among many similarly bound to society through the common bond of universal truths. Each had a special awareness, and that set him or her apart as different. Those Romantic writers exploring the imaginative expression break free entirely from outer observation or reliance upon history, or classical results achieved through reliance upon the work of others. Herein lies the key to the enormous creative surge which is the outstanding characteristic of the Romantic era in English literature. The individual depended solely upon imagination. As a result, the value of the work is very much bound up with the value of the author’s imagination.

Characteristics of Romanticism influenced not only the visual arts but also literature. Throughout much of the 18th century, all the arts had been produced to serve society and convey natural, universal truths. The great Romantic writers broke free of society’s rules. They thereby celebrated the genuine concerns of individual human beings. They conceived of an ideal past or future society as they would like it to be, rather than simply reflecting the actual society they saw around them. Writers felt themselves from the bounds of existing conventions and sought radically new ways to express themselves. Some might hint that behind this was a seeking of an actual or subconscious release.

5. Legacy and Influence of Romanticism in Modern Literature

The dialogues between the modern and Romantic eras have never ceased. The analysis of all great Romantic art – probing its contradictions, dissecting its ideas, reassessing its affinities and influences – continues to this day. Often, in our stressed society, the Romantics’ concerns and controversies seem strikingly familiar. Their words and themes haunt our present. How many novels, poems, dramas, paintings, operas and works of philosophy explore the dialectic between interdependence and independence, city and country, logic and sensitivity, social and personal needs, self-love and sexual love, the ideal and the real, the subjective and the universal, movement and inertia, man and nature, Kindred? The various facets and frustrations of their courageous journey through the mysteries and contradictions of their own times, and our own ever-turbulent times, form the essence of this unique period in the history of mankind.

The widespread influence of the Romantic movement is matched by its almost unparalleled diversity. Whether in 18th-century England or 19th-century America, all used its literature and ideas – often in their most original, challenging and explosive forms. The Romantics also played a far more active and direct role in modern revolutionary movements, both peaceful and violent, than their predecessors. Whether in Italian unification, the French and American Revolutions, German, Polish, Portuguese and South American independences, socialism, Communism, Christian Socialism, or feminism, the Romantics’ guiding spirit and art were everywhere to be found.

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