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The Romantic Movement. France, Germany, & England. Romanticism. Defining ‘Romanticism’ is difficult because the idea of what is romantic varies. Arthur Lovejoy claimed that what had truly existed was not ‘Romanticism’ but a veritable ‘plurality of Romanticisms.’

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the romantic movement

The Romantic Movement

France, Germany, & England

romanticism
Romanticism

Defining ‘Romanticism’ is difficult because the idea of what is romantic varies. Arthur Lovejoy claimed that what had truly existed was not ‘Romanticism’ but a veritable ‘plurality of Romanticisms.’

  • Common factors which shaped Romanticism, such as the French Revolution and the British Industrial Revolution. Both of these crisis caused writers to look for explanations.
  • Myths of creation and nature [natural beauty & harmony vs. artifice] became more important, and replaced the Neoclassical ideals of rationalism, traditionalism, and formal harmony.
  • Romantics emphasized individualism [the individual spirit, mind and capabilities], imagination [thought], and emotion [bliss and agony] as their guiding principles.
french romanticism
French Romanticism
  • Reaction to the cruel realities of the French Revolution - trying to make sense of the chaos of their society.
    • A sense of loss for what might have been, part of the French post revolutionary sentiment, was reflected in its many romantic writings
  • Rousseau’s Confessions had a major influence on the French Romantic movement.
    • Focus on the past and individual remembering became one of the focuses of French Romanticism.
    • The idea of living a solitary and imaginative life away from society was another important focus.
  • Writings dealing with the emotions and the idea of the tragedy of love rather than a utopian bliss.
  • Desire for freedom and escape authority
french romantic heroes
French Romantic Heroes
  • Conscious that they are unlike others [exceptional]
  • Solitude, leading to melancholy
  • Feeling of being outside society [so not bound to its laws]
  • Often an outlaw figure with a grudge against society [more sinned against than sinning]
  • Love and fate go together
  • Mysterious in past/origin and usually die
german romanticism
German Romanticism

“In Germany, Romanticism was a combination of spirit and life, of universe and the individual.” Romanticism in Germany pertained not only to art and literature, but also to the sciences and everyday life.

  • Journeys of self-realization
  • Infusion of nature with the mysterious to make it unique and beautiful
  • Life is poetry, and that all things are connected in such a way that a beautiful harmony and peace can exist.
  • Some aspects of loss – modern society is out of touch with something important.
    • pain of unrequited love or love triangle
    • Impossible loves
  • Romanticism was seen as a diversion from present problems but the end product was a piece that acknowledged what was happening politically while providing a respite from reality.
    • Goethe’s tales included ghost stories, love stories and moral tales.
german romantic heroes
German Romantic Heroes
  • Conscious that they are unlike others [exceptional]
  • Need for individual spiritual growth
  • Suffer emotional pain [loss in love]
  • Somehow hopeful that harmony can be achieved
  • Stunned by natural beauty – find the mysterious in nature
  • Fantastical realms combined with reality [magic, gods, devils]
british romanticism
British Romanticism

The great flowering of English Romanticism occurred about the middle of the second decade of the 19th century when for some ten years England became the focus of European Romanticism. Poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Blake, Byron and Keats were the major writers of this period. These writers not only wrote poetry, but wrote about poetry itself.

  • The natural and the supernatural – an attempt to see the unique and beautiful in the simple and ordinary. The idea we are still connected to nature.
    • Poetry is often remembrances of the past, and through memories we regain our link to the natural.
    • It may take a supernatural event to make us recognize our link to the natural.
  • Imagination was another important theme of English Romanticism.
    • Imaginative mind can lead to real freedom.
    • It is within imagination and emotion that truth can be found.
  • Reason must be combined with emotion.
  • Much of the poetry of this period was lyrical in style.
    • Some of the distinguishing characteristics included “emotion, subjectivity, melodiousness, imagination, description, and (sometimes) meditation.”
    • Many poems were elegies, odes and sonnets.
british romantic hero
British Romantic Hero
  • Often rebellious in nature [doesn’t wish to follow the norms of society]
    • He is usually isolated from society as a wanderer or is in exile of some kind.
    • Because he rejects the values and moral codes of society, he is often unrepentant by society's standards.
  • Larger than life intellectual capacity, pride, and passion.
    • These heightened abilities often make the hero arrogant, extremely confident, abnormally sensitive, and extremely conscious of himself.
  • Moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue.
  • Often plagued by a guilty memory of some terrible unnamed crime.
  • With the possibility greatness, yet seriously flawed in some manner, our hero usually meets with sad a end.
    • Due to these characteristics, the hero is often a figure of repulsion, as well as fascination.