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Romanticism Essay

  • Submitted by: Tolotra10
  • on January 8, 2013
  • Category: English
  • Length: 378 words

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Below is an essay on "Romanticism" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

The Romantic movement marked a profound shift in sensibilities away from the Enlightenment. It was inspired by reaction to that period's concepts of clarity, order, and balance, and by the revolutions in America, France, Poland, and Greece. It expressed the assertion of the self, the power of the individual, a sense of the infinite, and transcendental nature of the universe. Major themes included the sublime, terror, and passion. The writing extolled the primal power of nature and the spiritual link between nature and man, and was often emotional, marked by a sense of liberty, filled with dreamy inner contemplations, exotic settings, memories of childhood, scenes of unrequited love, and exiled heroes.

In America, Romanticism coalesced into a distinctly "American" ideal: making success from failure, the immensity of the American landscape, the power of man to conquer the land, and "Yankee" individualism. The writing was also marked by a type of xenophobia. Protestant America was faced with an influx of Catholic refugees from the Napoleonic Wars, of Asian workers who constructed the railroads, and the lingering issue of Native Americans. An insular attitude developed, the "us and them" in Whitman. The major writers of the period were Irving, Cooper, Emerson, Poe, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Whitman, Dickinson, and Melville.

There are various romantic elements in The Awakening. Perhaps the most obvious and elemental are the exotic locale, use of color, and heavy emphasis on nature (click here). The overriding romantic theme in the novel is Edna's search for individuality and freedom: freedom to decide what to be, how to think, and how to live. This search amounts to her own romantic quest for a holy grail, a grail of self-definition. In the process two classic motifs of the Romantic movement occur: rebellion against society and death. Ringe points out that Edna lies between two extremes in life and is completely alone in the universe (204-05): a condition that is a...

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