The Romantic Period

The term “romanticism” has been used to refer to a certain artist, poets, and writers as well as political, philosophical, and social thinkers of the late eighteen and early to mid-nineteenth centuries. In literature, romanticism found recurrent themes in the evocation or criticism of the past, the cult of “sensibility” with emphasis on women and children, the heroic isolation, of the artist or narrator, and respect for a new, wilder untrammelled and pure nature.

The Romantic period was a period of great change and emancipation. While the Classical era had strict laws of balance and restraint, the Romantic period moved away from that by allowing artistic freedom, experimentation, and creativity.

Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental. Among its attitudes were a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature; a general excitement of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect; a turning in upon the self and a heightened examination of human personality. As Inglis and Spear in the Adventures On English Literature say that “Romanticism is associated with vitality, powerful emotions, limitless and dreamlike ideas. Classicism, by contrast, is associated with the order, common sense, and controlled reason“ (1958:348).

Romantic poems marked the way for allowances for free thinking to increase in age were reserved and conservative social, political, and the industrial. In this period, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whose co-authored book Lyrical Ballads (1798) sought to reject Augustan poetry in favour of more direct speech derived from folk tradition. Besides Wordsworth and Coleridge, many poets existed, William Blake (1757-1827), Robert Southey (1774-1843), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), John Keats (1795-1821) and Walter Scott (1771-1832).

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The Characteristics of The Romantic Period

In Romantic Literature, there is a tendency to represent life as it is not, that is unrealistic, as a product of the imagination rather than that of reason. Some of the aspects of English Romanticism are taken from Harun Wiyono in an Introduction to English Literature vol.1 (1976:61). Here as the following:

a. Faith in the imagination

Feeling and intuition are given a more important part in our life. Rules give way to freedom in writing. The heroic couplet abandoned in favour of new unrestrained forms in poetry. The Romantics tended to define and present the imagination as our ultimate “shaping” or creative power, the approximate human equivalent of the creative powers of nature or even deity. This period is completely good with the production of much poetry.

Many poets express their feeling situation according to what they get by their senses.

One power possessed by the Romantic, a power distinct and superior to reason, was imagination. Imagination might apprehend immediate reality and create in accordance with it. The Romantics did not merely say that there were irrational ways of intuiting reality. They rejected materialism and utilitarianism as types of personal behaviour and as philosophies.

b. Faith in the individual

Faith in the individual is one of the characteristics of the romantic period. In this period every people is more interesting in his individual feelings and ideals, thought, etc. This is in contrast with the conformity of the past. Like many poets are written in their poems in the first person with the word “I”. It means that the writer is a narrator where the speaker is the main character.

c. Interest in the past

Medieval or gothic romances became popular again. Stories from the past with their mysterious settings were taken up again with renewed interest. History and legend were blended as in the stories of Walter Scott.

d. Interest in nature and the common man

This is revealed in the poetry of the romanticists like Wordsworth, Coleridge, etc. The word nature meant many things to the Romantics. It was often presented as itself if a work of art, constructed by a divine imagination, in illustrative language. While particular perspectives about nature varied considerably, nature as a healing power, nature as a source of subject and image, nature as a refuge from the artificial from the artificial construct of civilization, including artificial language.

In the Romantic Period, there were two great moments, Revolution Industry and French Industry. Both of the events were given big effect on the common people. Because of those moments gave inspirations to the poets, so that why many poets wrote poems which described about that situation. One of the Romantic poets is William Blake. Based on Harun Wiyono expression that “William Blake was interested in the hard lot of the common people”. He also made many poems that reflected the condition of life in England society such as The Chimney Sweeper, The Garden of Love, etc. He much told about suffering, peacefulness, uprising, desire for human freedom and he also often critiqued the social condition of England society. He was interested in the hard lot of the common man.

The Romantic Age 1800-1837 was expressed almost entirely in poetry. The romantic periods can be associated with vitality, powerful emotion, limitless, and dreamlike ideas. As a historical period in English literature, the Period of Romanticism extends roughly from 1798, when Wordsworth and Coleridge published their Lyrical Ballads. According to Inglis and Spear in Adventures in English Literature, “many of the poets of that time shared there are special qualities of romanticism” (1958), including:

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a. A strong sense of the beauty of the world around them

The romantic poets such as Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey worship natural beauty. They called as Lake Poets because of them lived in close to nature among the lakes and mountains of northern England. Like Wordsworth, he observed natural scenes closely, mediated on them deeply, and from his earliest boyhood drew from nature a sense of exaltation that was almost religious.

b. A deep sympathy with obscure, humble, underprivileged people

Wordsworth believed that the real feelings of the heart flourished best in a “humble and rustic life”. Wordsworth felt that men were at their best when living a simple life close to nature. He believed the growing belief in democracy, a faith in the common man who ploughs the fields, who watches the changing seasons, who may be buried obscurely in a country churchyard. Like a flower, a little child, an old shepherd could give Wordsworth thoughts “too deep for tears”.

c. A vivid imagination capable of constructing fantastic dream worlds

Coleridge also wrote poems about nature and simple country living, but he has a special interest lay in the mysterious world of imagination. When he and Wordsworth published Lyrical Ballads, they divided their part. Wordsworth took subjects from ordinary life and made them seem unusually beautiful, full of an important wonder. And Coleridge took wondrous or supernatural happenings and made them actual.

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