Romanticism Review - St. John Vianney High School

Romanticism Review
Dark Romanticism
Romanticism is a cultural and literary philosophy
that was popular in the United States from
roughly 1800-1865.
The Romantic movement began as a sort of
rebellion against stringent Rationalism. We are
no longer colonial and we are self-reliant.
Uniquely American scenes, characters and
This is the first time America has its own literary
movement—short stories, novels, poetry that
have an American sense.
The Romantic movement includes the other
philosophies of Transcendentalism and Dark
Elements of Romantic Literature
• It values feelings and intuition over logic and reason
• It shuns the artificiality of civilization for the unspoiled
• It looks back to the wisdom of the past and distrusts
• It champions individual freedom and the worth of the
• It places faith in the power of imagination—poetic sense
• It contemplates nature’s beauty as a path to spiritual
• It finds beauty and truth in the natural and supernatural
• It seeks Truth—attainable through seeing the Divine
Spirit/God in nature
• It usually includes some type of journey from the
civilized, urban world to the idealized, natural world
Characteristics of the Romantic Hero
He is innocent and pure of purpose
He has a sense of honor based on
higher principles than those of
Has knowledge of people based on
intuitive understanding
He loves nature and avoids urban life
He quests for some higher truth and
is of higher moral character
This movement is an offshoot from
It is as much a social, cultural movement as
it is literary. Most of the persons of note
were social and cultural activists.
This philosophy saw the potential in
mankind but that he is somewhat blinded
by the modern world.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
Tenets of Transcendentalism
The simplicity of nature is a pathway to the Divine
Commercialism, materialism and industrialism are
dehumanizing and corrupting
Man is perfectible—spiritual journey
Truths are attained through intuition and experience
Idealistic and optimistic, leaders sought
improvement through social change: abolition of
slavery, improvements in public education, equal
rights for all, including the poor, indigent,
mentally ill.
Emerson and Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson was the leading speaker
and thinker in the transcendentalist movement.
He was the leader of the Lyceum Movement.
Henry David Thoreau was a follower of Emerson
but chose to live the life of a transcendentalist.
Removed himself from society and showed that
living the simple life was possible.
He was a strict believer in Human Rights and that
man had the right to seek his own path in the
world without the constrains of government. His
time at Walden Pond was an experiment in
simple living.
Dark Romantics
Although the authors followed the literary
styles of the Romantics, many of their
themes focused on the dark side of
human nature
Emphasis on how sin and guilt are
strong influences
Also saw the influences of supernatural,
spiritual and superstition. Nature can
also be cruel and immutable force.
Edgar Allan Poe
Poe was born in Boston in 1809. Mother separated from his father and
then died in 1811. (Edgar did not know his father.) He was adopted by
John Allan, wealthy and influential.
He struggled with family (father) and school by the time he went to
college, and was forced to eventually join the army, where he was also
He was not an initial success and although his writing became more and
more popular his drinking and lifestyle limited his financial gain.
He married his 13 year old cousin. She died in 1847 which continued his
downward mental spiral.
He began drinking at a young age and heavy drinking continued
throughout his life. After his wife died in 1847, he lost touch with
reality, failed at most of his professional endeavors and fell into an
alcoholic stupor. He died in 1849, being found alone and delirious in a
public house.
Edgar Allan Poe
Although he was a prolific writer of short
stories and poetry, during his life he was
more successful as an editor and critic,
being put in charge of two very
successful and influential periodicals.
His style falls under and almost defines the
“Dark Romantic” era, being one of its
most prolific writers (eventually).
The darker images of his poetry are often
lost in his lyrical, poetic qualities.
His poems and short stories often follow a
pattern and include images of loss,
loneliness, death, sorrow, mental
anguish, and sin and guilt. Many people
equate this with his own “disordered
The Short Stories of Poe
“The Masque of the Red Death”
An Allegory about the
inevitability of death
Seems to draw from Poe’s
life experiences with the
“Red Death”—tuberculosis.
All guests move slowly
toward the last room where
the Red Death resides
despite Prospero’s
“The Black Cat”
A story that is evidently a
commentary on the evils of
alcohol, something Poe dealt
with his adult life.
The main character, the
narrator, like many of Poe’s
narrators/character, harbors
some disturbing psychosis
which eventually leads to his
By the story’s end he is
preparing for his own ultimate
The Fireside poets
The Fireside Poets were socalled because they
incorporated simple language
and ideas into lyrical easy-todigest poems.
They were the rock stars of
their day.
William Cullen Bryant
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
were just a few of the poets of
the time who also included
many natural elements into
their poetry
Imagery and Metaphor were
commonly used poetic
Walt Whitman’s career spans
the entire Romantic era and
beyond from the 1840s to
almost 1900.
He is the Everyman and the
voice of the lower classes (for
almost the first time?)
His quintessential work,
Leaves of Grass, was revised
many times before his death.
His emphasis is on Man’s
relationship to the Natural
world but also on Man’s
relationship to one another.
Washington Irving
Irving is considered by many experts to be the first
great American author of fiction.
His short stories and novellas capture the Romantic
ideals of capturing the innocence of the past, their
rural settings, their reference to the natural and
supernatural world and their general reference to a
moral or lesson.
“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” contains many of
these same elements including the moral of greed.
Nathanial Hawthorne
A significant writer of the Dark Romantic movement, Hawthorne may be best
known for his novel The Scarlet Letter.
Most of his writing deals with the repercussions of hidden sin, especially that of
lust or greed, and the sin people keep within themselves, while holding
themselves up as paragons of the community.
“Young Goodman Brown” deals with many of these same ideas. The main
character believes himself virtuous, he revels about a “satanic” ritual that
includes most of the people he knows or loves. He is forever changed because
he cannot see beyond his vision and only sees the evil in his community.