For Rationalists – the city was a place of civilization and opportunity For Romantics – the city was a place of immorality and death. For these reasons, the Romantic Journey often leads into the countryside. A place of independence, morality, and healthful living
Sometimes, the journey might be into the mind. The works of Edgar Allen Poe show journeys into the imagination. The Romantic journey is both a flight from something and a flight to something.
Romantics valued feeling over reason. Romanticism – originally a European movement – began in late 1700s Spread throughout Europe into the 1800s. Came to America slightly later and took somewhat different forms
First grew in response to rationalism. Rationalism had focused on reason and science. ▪ Sparked the Industrial Revolution ▪ With Industrial Revolution came filthy cities and terrible working conditions. Romantics distrusted pure reason and instead turned to the imagination. Claimed that the imagination could see and understand truths that the rational mind could not.
Romantics valued imagination, feeling, and nature over reason, logic, and civilization. Romantics valued poetry above all other works of the imagination. They contrasted poetry with science, which they viewed as a destroyer of truth. Edgar Allen Poe once called science a “ vulture ” with wings of “ dull realities ” that preyed upon the hearts of poets.
Romantics – explored exotic settings In the more natural past or in locations far from civilization and industry. Romantics – explored supernatural worlds Explored legends and folktales
Tried to reflect on the natural world in order to see truth and beauty. This approach is found in many lyric poems ▪ In these poems, the speaker discovers in ordinary scenes or objects (flower by a stream, bird flying overhead) some important deeply felt understanding about life. ▪ Like the Puritans, Romantics found truth in nature ▪ But rather than finding moral lessons, Romantics found a more general feeling of mental and emotional health.
Values feeling over reason Places faith in the imagination Shuns civilization and seeks nature Prefers innocence to sophistication Fights for individual ’ s freedom and worth Trusts past wisdom, not progress Reflects on nature to gain spiritual wisdom Finds beauty and truth in supernatural or imaginative realms. Sees poetry at the highest work of the imagination Is inspired by myth, legend, and folklore.
Some American writers imitated English and European models of writing. Others believed that America should develop a literary style of its own. The great American frontier provided a sense of unlimited possibilities that was not available in Europe. The first truly American novels looked westward.
Wrote about unique American settings and characters. Frontier communities American Indians Backwoodsmen Created the first American hero: Natty Bumppo ▪ This character ’ s simple morality, love of nature, and almost superhuman inventiveness make him a true Romantic hero.
The typical Romantic hero is youthful and innocent. He relies on common sense rather than book learning and is close to nature. Because women represented marriage and civilization (to many writers), Romantic heroes are often uncomfortable around them.
In contrast to Romantic heroes, Ben Franklin represents the rationalist hero. He looks to the city to better himself. Today Americans still create Romantic heroes in the form of Superman, Luke Skywalker, and Indiana Jones, along with dozens of other western, detective, and fantasy heroes.
Is youthful and innocent Has a strong sense of honor Has knowledge that comes from experience Loves nature and avoids town life Seeks truth in the natural world.
Goals of American Romantic poets were different from those of Romantic novelists. Novelists looked for new subject matter Poets wanted to prove that Americans were not ignorant hicks. ▪ To do this, they wrote poems is a style much like the poems of England.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), John Greenleaf Whittier, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and James Russell Lowell were known as the Fireside Poets. Poems often read aloud by the fireside In their time period and for a long time after, they were the most popular poets America ever produced.
Because they preferred the old, established styles of poetry, the fireside poets were unable to recognize the American poetry of the future. In 1855, Whittier read the work of a young poet, Walt Whitman, and promptly threw it into the fire. After reading the same poetry, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote the young poet a letter. “ I greet you, ” Emerson wrote to Whitman, “ at the beginning of a great career.
Emerson led a group know at the Transcendentalists. These people believed that to find the truth about God, the universe, and one ’ s self, one must transcend, or go beyond, the everyday experiences of the physical world. Transcendentalism was not new ▪ It originated in the ancient Greek philosophy of idealism.
Idealists said that true reality was found in ideas, not in the imperfect physical world. They sought the pure reality – the “ ideal ” that was beneath physical appearances. American Transcendentalists were idealists in a more practical sense. They believed that humanity could be perfected, and they worked to make this idea a reality.
Through his books and lectures, Emerson became the best-known member of the Transcendentalists. His transcendentalism added ideas from Europe and Asia to a distinctly American base. Emerson drew much of his thought from Puritanism. God revealed himself through the Bible and the physical world. This mystical view of the world was passed on to American Romantics and to Emerson.
He wrote, “ Every natural fact is a symbol of some spiritual fact. ” His view of the world came from his intuition, not from logic. Intuition is our ability to know things through feeling rather reason. In contrast, Franklin saw nature as something to be examined scientifically.
Positive thinking (optimism) guided Emerson. Strongly believed that God is good and works through nature. If we trust in our own power to know God directly, we will see that we, too, are a part of the Divine Soul. Emerson ’ s optimism appealed to many people who lived in a time full of worries – about money, slavery, and future of our nation. Emerson gave them a comforting message. If the world depresses you, look within yourself. The God within will connect you to the peace and beauty of the universe.
Everything, including people, is a reflection of the divine. The physical world is a doorway to the spiritual world. People can use intuition to sense God in nature or in their own souls. A person is his or her own best authority. Feeling and intuition are superior to reason and intellect.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, and Edgar Allen Poe are known as the Dark Romantics. Because of their gloomy view of the world, some people see these writers as anti-Transcendentalists. Dark Romantics had much in common with Emerson and his followers. Both groups valued feeling over reason. Both groups saw the events of the world as a signs or symbols that pointed beyond.
Did not agree with the optimism of the Transcendentalists. Thought that Emerson took only the bright side of Puritanism and ignored the belief in the wickedness of humanity. To create a greater balance, the Dark Romantics explored both good and evil. Looked at the effects of guilt and sin on the mind, body and soul, including madness. Behind the pasteboard masks of polite society, they saw the horror of evil. From this vision, the Dark Romantics shaped a new, truly American literature.