Romantic Literature

Table of Contents

    Romantic literature originated from the founding motifs of Romantic Movement of late 18th century. German literary figures and artists broke free from contemporary neoclassical attitudes and turned towards more natural and individualistic elements. Primary influences in early romantic literature were figures like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schelling and Heidelberg. Later, the artists were fueled by national revolutions such as American and French revolution, which emphasized on the inner wishes and abilities of the downtrodden masses and superficiality of the pragmatic world. Literature of the era reflects the numerous and rapid socio-political changes which took place in the late 18th century Europe.

    Romantic poetry and prose are one of the most researched and debated subject matters in literature. Romantic poetry gained a high pedestal in England with the works of writers known as ‘Romantics’: William Wordsworth (1770-1850), William Blake (1750-1827), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and late romantics such as John Keats (1795-1821), Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822). These artists brought a shift in the literary scene of the age by rejecting rigorous codes of order and reason followed in the age of Enlightenment and adopting a new human vision and experience. The central focus of scenery shifted from urban areas to rural countryside to explore the real issue associated with ‘back to nature’ philosophy.

    In America, Romantic Movement was known as transcendentalism and writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau propounded the exotic landscape and tumultuous emotions in poetry and prose. Novels such as Hawthorne’s ‘Scarlet Letter’ and Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ are revered as the primary milestones of the American Romantic literature. Similarly, novels such as ‘Frankenstein’ (Mary Shelley), ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (Jane Austen) and ‘Jane Eyre’ illustrated the supernatural and contemporary issues related to the proletariat and creative desire. Other characteristics of romantic literature included interest in innocence and childhood, transformation power of nature and the role imagination plays in the overall development of intellect and personal attributes.