The Symbolic Use of Nature in the Romantic Period

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LITR 211
English Literature 18th Century to the Present
Week 6
January 15, 2012
Essay #1
“The symbolic use of nature in the Romantic Period”
Olejniczak, Brian

The Romantic period has very little to do with its actual name. Rather, the authors of this period used descriptive imagery and extensively referenced nature because the use of nature is symbolic. There are many authors of the Romantic period that illustrate this point.

Instead of embracing the political lifestyle of the period like other era authors did, the Romantics turned to nature for inspiration. “Romantics turned to nature for self fulfillment. They were turning away from the values and ideas of the previous era, embracing new ways of expressing their imagination and feelings. Instead of a concentration on ‘head,’ the intellectual focus of reason, they preferred to rely on the self, in the radical idea of individual freedom. Instead of striving for perfection, the Romantics preferred ‘the glory of the imperfect.’” (Lombardi 2012.) The Romantic author’s stressed the importance of the individual and boldness over the ideals of the coming Victorian age’s ideals of loyalty and fraternity.

The onset of the Romantic period is said to have begun with the writings of William Wordsworth with such works as “Lines written in early spring” and “I wandered lonely as a cloud.” In Wordsworth’s ‘Lines Written In Early Spring’ he states

“To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.” (Wordsworth Line 5-8.)

Here you can clearly see Wordsworth’s use of nature and how it affects the human soul. In this poem the speaker is sitting in a very lush meadow that is graphically described with such words like “sweet” and “budding twigs.” Wordsworth is very elaborate in his

description of the meadow in which he is sitting in. Wordsworth looks at Nature and through his views sad thoughts...
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