Romanticism vs. Transcendentalism


ERAS OF AMERICAN LITERATURE I. Pre-Columbian: II. Colonial: III. Revolutionary: IV. Romantic: V. Transcendental: VI. Realist: VII. Modern: ? to 1607 1607-1770 1770-1800 1800-1860 1840-1860 1860-1900 1900 - present

ORIGINS OF ROMANTICISM “AGE OF REVOLUTIONS” England:  1790s  William Wordsworth  Samuel Taylor Coleridge  “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”

ELEMENTS OF ROMANTICISM  Love of nature  Strong sense of the beauty of the world, especially in nature and human emotion  Search for the ideal world where one can be in communion with nature  Strong conflict between science and nature

ELEMENTS (CONT)  Vivid imagination  Strong sense of supernatural and mystery  Strong passionate emotion, often not accepted by society  Non-conformity to society

ELEMENTS (CONT)  Subjectivity-feelings and opinions are more important/effective than fact/reason  Freedom from restraint and rebellion against limitations-especially those imposed by society



 Thoreau (


)  Fuller (

The Dial)

TRANSCENDENTALIST MOVEMENT  Truths that go beyond, or transcend, proof  Truths that are known to the heart and not necessarily to the mind  Truths that are felt emotionally, but cannot be proven logically  Values lie in the realm of instinct and intuition Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world

ELEMENTS OF TRANSCENDENTALISM  Mankind is naturally good with the ability to achieve higher levels of thinking and understanding.

 Strong sense of morality and ethical seriousness (from Puritans), but reject rigid religious structure

T. ELEMENTS (C0NT)  Believe in man’s path to individual enlightenment rather than man’s ability to receive divine light from God

T. ELEMENTS (CONT)  Appalled by coldness of the church  Humans are “God-bullied”  Christianity is impractical

HAWTHORNE’S BELIEFS  Believes in man’s inclination toward sin and evil, like his Puritan ancestors(but redemption can be found)  Finds Puritan history and his own ancestors to be hypocritical and severe  Writing exposes this hypocrisy and suggests compassion towards sinners