Romanticism is a philosophical and artistic movement which helped shape the way Western culture viewed themselves and their world. For some the word Romanticism may bring about thoughts of grand gestures of love, when in reality the Romantic Period had very little to do with love, and more to do with new ideas which clashed with the political and social norms of the Age of Enlightenment.
Although England and Germany were the citadel for the romantic movement, Romanticism was an international movement in the arts. What is considered the Romantic Period varies greatly between countries and it is difficult to pinpoint the exact dates of its beginning and end, but it is thought to have begun in the 1770’s and extend well into the nineteenth century. These dates coincide closely with the Age of Revolutions, which was a period “of upheavals in political, economic, and social traditions.” This may help explain the energy at the center of Romanticism which helped transform popular thought away from the disillusionment and use of reason during the Enlightenment.
Romanticism centers around emotion and free expression. According to the preface of William Woodsworth’s Lyrical Ballads, poetry should be “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” The best way to express this emotion was to develop content through imagination, and not to be dominated by what would be considered rational. Nature was also something of great importance to artists of the Romantic Era. Nature was thought to be art within itself, a creation of “divine imagination.” The idea of nature was vastly different during this time period. It was thought of as “organic” as opposed to the scientific approach of nature which often viewed things as “mechanical.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau is often considered the father of Romanticism. His writings paved the way for Romantic thought with a high regard for nature and a style which captivated readers and sparked a high emotional interest. New...
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