Romanticism (or the Romantic Era) was a complex artistic, literary, and intellectual
movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained
strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution. The movement validated strong emotion
as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as
trepidation, horror and terror and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting
the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities, both new aesthetic
In literature, Romanticism found recurrent themes in the evocation or criticism of the
past, the cult of "sensibility" with its emphasis on women and children, the heroic isolation
of the artist or narrator, and respect for a new, wilder, untrammeled and "pure" nature.
Romanticism also helped in the emergence of new ideas and in the process led to the
emergence of positive voices that were beneficial for the marginalized sections of the
The European Romantic movement reached America in the early nineteenth century.
American Romanticism was just as multifaceted and individualistic as it was in Europe.
Like the Europeans, the American Romantics demonstrated a high level of moral
enthusiasm, commitment to individualism and the unfolding of the self, an emphasis on
intuitive perception, and the assumption that the natural world was inherently good, while
human society was filled with corruption.
During the Romantic period, we see a rise in female authors as well. This can also be
attributed to the fact that this period was submerged in wartime. The women were home,
without a way to express their feelings, fight for the cause, or even connect to those around
The works of the Romantic Era are a vast and unique collection of literary works.
However, they can all be said to have at least these characteristics: A love of nature, a
sense of nationalism, and a sense of exoticism/the supernatural. These simple
characteristics can be linked back to the fact that these works were being written in time of
political turmoil. For example, the nationalism that is seen in Romantic works may be
attributed to the fact that the authors of the time were proud of their country, had pride in
their people, and their “cause”. It was the writers’ own way of contributing to the
fight. An earlier definition comes from Charles Baudelaire: "Romanticism is precisely
situated neither in choice of subject nor exact truth, but in the way of feeling."