The Romantic Period
Historical Ambience and Influence:
1776: American Revolution
1789: French Revolution (refer to mod. Hist. notes) by Perry or Petes
1807: British slave trade outlawed
1820: Ascension of George IV
1830’s: Start of industrial revolution
Social Conditions of the 18th and 19th centuries
Women were equalling and rivalling men in literature and were actually more popular poets. Ex:
Anna Barbauld, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Robinson.
Rights movements; individualism activists.
What is Romanticism?
An artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 18th century and
characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual's expression of
emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion
against established social rules and conventions. Celebrated nature rather than civilization, and
valued emotion and imagination over reason.
Romantic Elements in Poetry
Individualism: a social theory advocating the liberty, rights, or independent action of the
individual. Ex: William Wordsworth’s Daffodils. “I lie, In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash
upon that inward eye, Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills
Nature: The elements of the natural world (forests, lakes, mountains, flowers, animals, etc.) that,
in poetry, influences and inspires the author as well as the reader. Ex: Percy Shelley’s A Bridal
Song, “In a sea of glassy weather! Night, with all thy stars look down,--”.
Sublime: impressing the mind with a sense of grandeur or power; inspiring awe, veneration. Ex:
William Blake’s The Tyger, expresses the sublime fear; “What the hammer? What the chain? In
what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? What dread grasp, Dare its deadly terrors clasp?”
Gothic: relating to a literary style characterized by gloom, the grotesque, and the supernatural,
popular especially in the late 18th century. Ex: Lord Byron’s Darkness, “Darkness had no need,
Of aid from them. She was the universe.”
Supernatural: of or relating to things that cannot be explained according to natural laws;
characteristic of or caused by or as if by a god; miraculous or of, involving, or ascribed to occult
beings. Exceeding the ordinary; abnormal. Ex: Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the
Ancient Mariner, “The many men, so beautiful! And they all dead did lie; And a thousand
thousand slimy things, Lived on; and so did I.”
Primary Poets and Instigators of the Romantic Poetry Movement.
William Wordsworth, William Blake, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Jonathon Keats, and Samuel Taylor