Romanticism in American Lit

anRomanticism in American Literature brought us some of the world’s greatest writers ever to live. Writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau all wrote during the Romanticism period. Without them we would not have stories such Moby Dick, Resistance to Civil Government, The American Scholar, The Scarlet Letter, and Edgar Allan Poe’s most notorious works such as The Raven and Annabel lee. The Romanticism movement started in Europe and in the late 1820’s it worked its way into America. It was aimed as a rebellion against the enlightenment movement.
It was also referred to as the American Renaissance because it was the rebirth of literary values lost previously in the enlightenment era and Puritanism era. American Romanticism was in a broad sense a new attitude toward nature, humanity, and society that espoused individualism and freedom. Characteristics of romanticism writing included the power of imagination, impulse towards reform, admiration for nature, and the fascination with death and the supernatural. Romanticism literature had two very different sides to it, one being optimistic and the other is pessimistic.
On the optimistic side you had writers such as Walt Whitman, Margaret Fuller, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Pessimistic writers included Edgar Allen Poe, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Edgar Allan Poe was a very dark romanticist and was also a very deeply pessimistic writer, but in a philosophical kind of way. He wrote poems, novels, and essays throughout his writing career, and he even developed the style of southern gothic writing. His poems often portray a character in despair and he explores the state of the mind a lot.

Another trait of Poe is he uses a lot of symbolism and imagery for example his use of darkness and light in the poem “Annabel Lee”. Poe implies that the “kingdom by the sea” is a bright, cheerful place where the sun shines on two young lovers, the narrator and Annabel Lee. Ironically, in another realm of dazzling light–heaven–the highest order of angels, the Seraphim grow dark with envy of the young couple. Under cover of night, they send a cold wind that kills Annabel Lee: “The wind came out of the cloud by night, Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee. But the narrator says he remains in a realm of light, for his soul and the soul of Annabel Lee are one. In the last couple lines, Poe emphasizes this point with light imagery: “For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams, Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes, Of the beautiful Annabel Lee” (679). Poe’s writing goes down in history for being some of the best literary works to ever come out of this period in American literature. Poe was a pessimistic writer on the other hand was Henry David Thoreau who was a very optimistic writer.
One quote a found from Thoreau was just to “love your life”. In his essay “Resistance to Civil Government” he shows his rebellion in committing to governments values and ideas. Is very clearly stated at the beginning when Thoreau says “The Government is best which governs least” (829). Thoreau was a strong believer of take action for our own principles and to start thinking for ourselves and if you want change make it happen if you think it’s right. Ultimately he was jailed for his beliefs.
Those including not believing for paying for stuff that didn’t benefit people and also for not supporting the Mexican American war, but Thoreau said to make changes sometimes good people have to go to jail. The romanticism period came to an end in the mid 1860’s, and In conclusion the romanticism period in America was a chance for writers to break out of the cookie cutter mold of previous era’s and a chance for writers to get their views and ideas out to the world through their literature. Romanticism writing can be broken up into eight different key ideas.
Individualism is the idea that every person on earth knows God in their own way, and we will find truth for ourselves. Emerson and Melville often fall into the category of individualism. Organicism is the concept that society or the universe is comparable to a biological organism, as in development or organization, everything is connected. Unity and diversity stated that things are made up of many parts, but they all come together to make a one whole object. Dynamic change is the idea that the whole world brought us to this one moment yet the world is in a constant state of change. Imagination, originality, emotional, and finally nature.

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