Romanticism

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The Establishment and Knowledge of American Romanticism
Professor Ann Woodlief describes American Romanticism by saying, it “developed its own character, especially as these writers tried self-consciously to be new and original.” In this statement, Woodlief argues that the American romantic authors strove to distinguish some differences between American and British Romanticism. The two forms of writing were already very similar, so the authors of this time period forced themselves to find a creative way of making American Romanticism unique. Like the British, the American romantics were against the Enlightenment because of all the reason that was incorporated into it; the American romantics did not like reason. From 1820 to 1860, American Romanticism was based on aspects such as solitude, nature, individualism, nationalism, supernatural themes, imagination, and liberty. The different characteristics of Romanticism can relate to one or more of the other characteristics of American fiction. For example, the supernatural themes can tie together with the theme of imagination, and the theme of individualism can link together with the theme of solitude or liberty. Hawthorne, Irving, Cooper, and Poe were all early American authors who utilized the themes of romanticism in their literature. In Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter, he used individualism, nature, and liberty to tell his story, while Irving, Cooper, and Poe exercised the themes of supernatural effects, nature, Gothicism, and solitude to create short stories that are classified as American Romanticism instead of British Romanticism.

Nathanial Hawthorne incorporates the values of individualism, nature, and liberty into The Scarlet Letter, guaranteeing that it would be recognized as a novel of American Romanticism. Hester Prynne’s individualism surfaces. In the beginning when she is an ordinary townsperson, she has an affair that changes her life forever. Through all the humiliation and changes that come...
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