The Romantic Period in American Literature

Topics for Discussion
in The Scarlet Letter
► Topic
1: tropes/figurative language
(metaphors, similes, personification,
imagery, sentence structure, inverted
sentence structure)
Topic 2
► Group
(a) biblical
(b) historic allusions
Topic 3
► Thematic
development of Sin and Guilt as
develop through characterization, setting,
and conflict (internal and external)
Topic 4
► The
theme of Individuality as developed
through the characters, setting and
Topic 5
► Symbolism
(scaffold, rosebush, the letter)
Topic 6
► Gothic
and Romantic elements
Topic 7
► Who
is the Romantic Hero?
The Romantic Period in
American Literature
In the words of Ralph Waldo
“For all men live by truth, and stand in need
of expression. In love, in art, in avarice, in
politics, in labor, in games, we study to
utter our painful secret. The man is only
half himself, the other half is his
After the Bill of Rights
Before the Civil War
City vs. Country
► To
the Romantic, the city is corrupt and
► To
the Romantic, the country represents
independence, moral clarity, and healthy
The Scarlet Letter
► Nathaniel
► Published in 1850
► “The Custom House Essay”
“The Custom House” was added by
Hawthorne because the original text
of the novel was too short for
Imagination over Reason
► Romanticism
is a reaction against
rationalism which brought about the sooty,
squalid cities of the Industrial Revolution.
► Imagination
was able to apprehend truth
the rational mind could not reach.
Romantics vs.
Rationalists (Age of
►Wild nature
The Age of Reason in the United
States is best exemplified
through the revolutionary
writings of Thomas Paine and
Patrick Henry.
Gothic Novels
► Allowed
Romantics to explore the exotic
nature of the supernatural realm and the
psychological exploration of the human
Robert Louis Stevenson's
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and
Mr Hyde (1886)
Oscar Wilde's The Picture of
Dorian Gray (1891)
Edgar Allan Poe published
“The Raven” in 1845.
The American Journey
► Takes
reader to the literal countryside and
the countryside of the imagination.
► A journey away from corruption of
civilization and rational thought.
► A journey toward the integrity of nature and
the freedom of the imagination.
Romantic Poets
► Believed
poetry was the greatest witness to
the power of imagination.
► Still modeled themselves after the European
► Fireside poets known for their comfortable
subjects appealing to families—love,
patriotism, nature, family, God and religion.
► Their literary conservationism kept them
from being truly innovative.
Romantic Hero
► Is
innocent and pure of purpose
► Has a sense of honor based not on society’s rules
but on some higher principle
► Has a knowledge of people and of life based on
deep, intuitive understanding, not on formal
► Loves nature
► Avoids town life
Romantic Heroes Portrayed in
Film and Television
Television series Sleepy Hollow
inspired by a Romantic short
story by Washington Irving
Film The Last of Mohicans
starring Daniel Day Lewis
based on a novel by James
Fenmore Cooper
5 I’s of Romanticism
► Imagination
► Intuition
► Innocence
► Inner
► Inspiration from nature and the
When I heard the Learn’d Astronomer
When I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns
before me;
When I was shown the charts and the diagrams, to add,
divide, and measure the
When I, sitting, heard the astronomer, where he
lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon, unaccountable, I became tired and sick;
Till rising and gliding out, I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
(Walt Whitman)
Important Dates
► Thurs.
Oct. 3 quiz on Ch. 1-4
► Wed. Oct. 9 quiz through Ch. 9
► Mon. Oct. 14 quiz through Ch. 16
► Tues. Oct. 22 quiz through 22
► Discussion Days Oct. 22-24
► Test on Fri. Oct. 25
► Every week—two passages of Applied