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ROMANTICISM: 1800-1865

THE HEART OVER THE HEAD

ROMANTIC BELIEFS: INTUITION

 Reason, logic, and rationality have shortcomings  They have their place, but they are limited  Imagination, intuition, and emotion can discover deeper, abstract, more significant spiritual truths than reason can discover  Intuition: gut feeling; instinct  i.e.: Heaven; God; Beauty

ROMANTIC VIEW OF GOD

      Not anthropomorphic: didn’t see God as a person God is good, loving, merciful and created the universe and us as good God is a spirit, a presence, a being that pervades all As such, God can be discovered by anyone at any time through intuitive insight, usually in Nature away from the noise and distractions of society Greatest good is to become one with God; to lose the self and merge with the Divine.

 Very Eastern Idea: Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism Didn’t care much for organized religion; no need for the Bible, for a minister, for a Church to discover and worship God

ROMANTIC BELIEFS: NATURE

 Nature is good, pure, and innocent  Civilization is bad and the source of evil  Civilization takes man out of his natural, good state and corrupts him   The more sophisticated and complex our world is, the more disconnected from our natural, good state we become “Noble Savage”  God, the Divine, is found in Nature  You discover God in Nature intuitively

ROMANTIC BELIEFS: TRUTH

   Beauty is truth It is recognized intuitively, from the heart, not rationally through the brain Truth is located in a “transcendent” reality that is beyond the physical world that can only be discovered through emotion, imagination, intuition  Truth often comes in spontaneous moments of insight: epiphanies  Truth is often found through insights gained in Nature

ROMANTIC BELIEFS: THE INDIVIDUAL

 Human nature is good and we are born good and pure; society and its forces corrupt  Individual is more important than society  Society usually is in conflict with the individual, restricting his/her independence, uniqueness, and power  Trust your self; YOU are the source of truth since the Divine is found within you  No need to give authority of your life to anyone else: you know best what to do

ROMANTIC VALUES

 Imagination; NOT logic  Intuition; NOT carefully reasoned thought  Spontaneity; NOT careful prudence and  Emotion; NOT detached, dry analysis  The Individual’s power; NOT mindless allegiance to the rules of society  Exploration: of Nature, of the mind, of the far away and distant, of the exotic and extreme  Deeper spiritual truths; NOT logical ones

ROMANTIC VALUES

 Youthful exuberance and energy over conservative, prudent, thoughtful experience  A nostalgia for the past  The raw, the natural, the unsophisticated over the polished, the refined, the carefully planned

THE THREE BRANCHES OF ROMANTICISM

ROMANTICISM CLASSIC ROMANTICS TRANSCENDENTALISM DARK ROMANTICS

DARK ROMANTICS: POE, MELVILLE, AND HAWTHORNE

 How they differ from the other branches:  Not optimistic about life, human nature, or nature  The truths they discover beyond the rational are horrific, frightening, and painful  The emotions they tend to emphasize are fear, dread, disgust, etc  How they are similar to the other branches:  They do believe in deeper, irrational truths  Emphasis on imagination and emotion

GOTHIC ELEMENTS

 The bizarre: live burial; whales that carry a grudge; insanity  The exotic: castles, faraway places, the dreary and the dark  The supernatural: vampires; creating monsters  Classic Examples:  Dracula  Frankenstein  Anything by Poe

ROMANTIC LITERATURE

 Poetry: imitative of British: Bryant, Longfellow, Holmes  Essays: new unique ideas: Thoreau, Emerson  Short Stories: become a legitimate gnere: Poe, Hawthorne  Adventure Novels: idealizes Nature and frontier life: Cooper

OVERALL SIGNIFICANCE

 America’s literary, intellectual, cultural “Declaration of Independence”  Now producing unique, authoritative, timeless ideas and literature for the first time  The final escape from British influences other that the political: no more imitating British forms and ideas  We have matured and gained confidence to do our own thing as proven by the great American Romantics

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