American romanticism literature essays

Basic characteristics[ edit ] The nature of Romanticism may be approached from the primary importance of the free expression of the feelings of the artist. The importance the Romantics placed on emotion is summed up in the remark of the German painter Caspar David Friedrich"the artist's feeling is his law". Samuel Taylor Coleridge and others believed there were natural laws the imagination—at least of a good creative artist—would unconsciously follow through artistic inspiration if left alone.

American romanticism literature essays

Works in the dark romantic spirit were influenced by Transcendentalism, but did not entirely embrace the ideas of Transcendentalism. Such works are notably less optimistic than Transcendental texts about mankind, nature, and divinity. Origin The term dark romanticism comes from both the pessimistic nature of the subgenre's literature and the influence it derives from the earlier Romantic literary movement.

Dark Romanticism's birth, however, was a mid-nineteenth-century reaction to the American Transcendental movement. Transcendentalism originated in New England among intellectuals like Ralph Waldo EmersonHenry David Thoreauand Margaret Fuller and found wide popularity from through the late s.

Firstly, Dark Romantics are much less confident about the notion perfection is an innate quality of mankind, as believed by Transcendentalists. Subsequently, Dark Romantics present individuals as prone to sin and self-destruction, not as inherently possessing divinity and wisdom.

Thompson describes this disagreement, stating while Transcendental thought conceived of a world in which divinity was immanent, "the Dark Romantics adapted images of anthropomorphized evil in the form of Satandevilsghosts … vampiresand ghouls.

For these Dark Romantics, the natural world is dark, decaying, and mysterious; when it does reveal truth to man, its revelations are evil and hellish. Finally, whereas Transcendentalists advocate social reform when appropriate, works of Dark Romanticism frequently show individuals failing in their attempts to make changes for the better.

Thompson sums up the characteristics of the subgenre, writing: Fallen man's inability fully to comprehend haunting reminders of another, supernatural realm that yet seemed not to exist, the constant perplexity of inexplicable and vastly metaphysical phenomena, a propensity for seemingly perverse or evil moral choices that had no firm or fixed measure or rule, and a sense of nameless guilt combined with a suspicion the external world was a delusive projection of the mind—these were major elements in the vision of man the Dark Romantics opposed to the mainstream of Romantic thought.

Still, the genre came to influence later Dark Romantic works, particularly some of those produced by Poe. Their tales and poems commonly feature outcasts from society, personal torment, and uncertainty as to whether the nature of man will bring him salvation or destruction.

Many of his works are generally considered part of the genre. Also known for writing of man's blind ambition, cruelty, and defiance of God, his themes of madness, mystery, and the triumph of evil over good in these two works make them notable examples of the dark romanticism sub-genre. As Melville matured he began to use the fictional form to probe metaphysical and psychological questions, culminating in his masterpiece, Moby-Dick.

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This long, thematically innovative novel had no precedent and can fairly be said to stand alone in its trenchant use of symbols and archetypes.

The novel follows the monomaniacal quest of the sea captain Ahab for the white whale Moby-Dick, and is a figurative exploration of the author's tortured quest to come to terms with God. According to his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne, Melville "can neither believe nor be comfortable in his unbelief.

Nathaniel Hawthorne is the dark romantic writer with the closest ties to the American Transcendental movement. He was associated with the community in New England and even lived at the Brook Farm Transcendentalist Utopian commune for a time before he became troubled by the movement; his literature later became anti-transcendental in nature.

For Melville, religious doubt was an unspoken subtext to much of his fiction, while Hawthorne brooded over the Puritan experience in his novels and short stories.

American romanticism literature essays

The direct descendant of John Hawthorne, a presiding judge at the Salem witch trials inHawthorne struggled to come to terms with Puritanism within his own sensibility and as the nation expanded geographically and intellectually. Prominent examples Elements contained within the following literary works by Dark Romantic authors make each representative of the subgenre: While Transcendentalism focused on the individual, eschewing reason for spiritual intuition and asserting that God already exists in the individual, the Dark romantics took a somewhat dimmer view of the essential goodness of human nature.

They focused on the dark side of the soul, the reality of evil and sin in the human heart, undercutting the optimistic worldview of the Transcendentalists. The legacy of the Dark romantics can be found in a variety of media. From early in its inception, the film industry created the vampire and horror film genres in such works as Nosferatu and "The Cabinet of Dr.

These have spawned an entire genre. Another genre that was deeply influenced by Dark romanticism was the graphic novelsoriginating with the Batman comics in the s.

Thompson Gale, Reynolds, Beneath the American Renaissance: Harvard University Press, Romanticism and the Gothic Tradition. Essays in Dark Romanticism. Washington State University Press,6.

Washington State University Press,5.

Romanticism - Wikipedia

Retrieved February 19, Gale Research Company,William E. Cain is Mary Jewett Gaiser Professor of English at Wellesley urbanagricultureinitiative.com his many publications is a monograph on American literary and cultural criticism, , in The Cambridge History of American Literature, Vol.

5 (). American literature, the body of written works produced in the English language in the United urbanagricultureinitiative.com other national literatures, American literature was shaped by the history of the country that produced it.

For almost a century and a half, America was merely a . English Literature Essays, literary criticism on many authors, links to internet resources and bookshop.

American romanticism literature essays

These are some of the many databases available to you as a member of Middletown Thrall Library: Artemis (now Gale Literary Sources) Searches the following databases (described below): Literature Criticism Online, Literature for Students, Literature Resource Center, and Something about the Author.

Course Summary English American Literature has been evaluated and recommended for 3 semester hours and may be transferred to over 2, colleges and universities. Dark romanticism is a literary subgenre that emerged from the Transcendental philosophical movement popular in nineteenth-century urbanagricultureinitiative.comendentalism began as a protest against the general state of culture and society at the time, and in particular, the state of intellectualism at Harvard and the doctrine of the Unitarian church, which was taught at Harvard Divinity School.

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