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Romanticism Essay, Research Paper


The definition of romanticism is noted as a romantic spirit, outlook, tendency, etc. or the spirit, styles, and attitudes of, or adherence to the Romantic Movement or a similar movement contrasted with classicism and realism. Now, to complete this definition we must define the Romantic Movement. The Romantic Movement was the revolt in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries against the artistic, political, and philosophical principles that had become

associated with neoclassicism: characterized in literature, music, paintings, etc. by freedom of form, emphasis on feeling, originality, and creative imagination. Also on the artists own personality and sympathetic interests in nature, medevilism, the common man and so forth. This basically explains the content of this essay. The

essay will be a deeper explanation of these things related to four of the main themes in romanticism. Specific examples of revolution, individuality, nature, and love will be included. The leading item in romanticism was passion. Almost everything, whether it be art, music, or literature, was shown with extreme passion. This could very well be the reason for calling it the Romantic Period. Love has a somewhat difficult definition, due to the fact that it is a feeling. Love had an immense role in romanticism. Love in art was mainly shown in ballet. It gave great importance to women not only as artists but mythical figures as well. The ballet showed men and women in an equality of roles, but also gave men a chance to show that they too could accomplish extravagant dance steps. Ballet also stressed exoticism, fantasy, nature and most importantly love. An example of

a common love theme in ballet would be the unrealizable love for an fleeting lady or fatal love for a temptress. Paris was the center of romantic ballet. A poet by the name of Theophile Gautier wrote the story for twhat is considered the greatest ballet of all time called “Giselle”. This ballet is still popular with modern audiences. This particular ballet was based upon a German legend of a girl who loves to dance and falls in love with a shepherd boy. Her mother warns her of her fate by saying “Unhappy child! You will dance forever, you will kill yourself, and when you are dead, you will become a Wili (dancing spirit).” Her prophecy eventually becomes truth when Giselle kills herself after finding that her beloved is a duke in disguise and is already engaged to a noble lady. The woman who danced the lead (Carlotta Grisi), as told by Gautier himself, danced the role “With

perfection, lightness, boldness, and a chaste refinement and refined seductiveness, which placed her in first rank . . .she was nature and artlessness personified.” In literature Madame de Stael’s novel “Corinne” is about a poetic genius who suffers and eventually dies of unrequited love, a very passionate and common theme in the Romantic Era. Madame de Stael’s statement on poetic inspiration is chiefly known for its portrayal of women and for its romantic glorification of inspired genius. Here is a portion of that statement: “Sometimes my impassioned excitement carries me beyond myself; teaches me to find in nature and in my own heart such daring truths and forcible expressions as solitary mediation could never have engendered.” This is a excellent example of so many of the themes in romanticism. It tells of passion, nature, love, and also individualism. These are all necessary components of romanticism. The roles of women in the Romantic Period were quite contradictory. They were liberated and independent, predatory and dangerous, domestic and subservient, and even ethereal and mystical. These are all ways that women were portrayed at this time, mostly the oppinions of men. Women, as

writers, often went under male pen names due to the controversy of women writing. Some archetypes of women writers in romanticism were: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelly (the woman who married the poet Shelly and wrote the story of “Frankenstien”). There were the Bronte sisters and Mary Ann Evans (under the name George Elliot) in England, Germaine Necker (Madame de Stael)and Aurore Dupin (George Sand) in France, and in the United States the extraordinary writers Margaret Fuller and Emily Dickenson. These are only a few of the many female writers in romanticism. These women were courageous and as passionate, if not more so than men, in their writing. They faced restrictions and struggled to be recognized as respectable writers in their time, they eventually did, but did not live to see this happen. The revolutions of both Europe and the United States greatly impacted romanticism. Romanticism is occasionally known as a revolutionary movement due to the extreme changes in politics, taste, feeling, behavior, thought and social and domestic relations. There are many examples of revolutionary and romantic ideas mixed. In Spaniard Francisco de Goya’s painting “The Third of May” (1808) there are obvious romantic qualities. The eloquent way that the figures are

posed in motion and with the intensely contrasting and dramatic colors. All of these elements were typical in romanticism. This painting was also a political statement of the injustices and the slaughter of innocent citizens after an uprising against a French invasion. This painting was painted in 1814 after king Ferdinand

was restored to the Spanish throne. In literature Schiller’s famous poem “Ode to Joy” written on the eve of the French Revolution showed his firm beliefs in human rights to dignity and freedom plus his hopes for universal brotherhood. He is placed in the transition between the Enlightenment and The Romantic Era. His poem is eternally recognized and was the inspiration for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony written almost thirty years later. This poem and the symphony have become one of the great statements of romanticism. As for politics and society, Jean Jacques Rousseau had a very considerable impact in this area at the time. He is the single most important figure for understanding the transition between the Enlightenment and romanticism. He was revered as a forefather of the revolution due to his analysis of social injustices and beliefs in human dignity and freedom. He raised individuality to a state of “prime importance”. His thoughts on

individualism seem to be the philosophical foundation for the American republic (the largest territory having a government proclaiming people to be free and equal).

During the Enlightenment, nature meant human nature, but in the Romantic Period nature meant unspoiled natural scenery such as forests, lakes, mountains, the ocean, etc. There came a desire for these objects in romanticism. Rousseau was yet again greatly influential. He questioned the value of civilized society. His

followers believed that the natural and free life of the Natives in America were superior to that of the Europeans who settled in America. Another thought of his became a romantic view. It was that the black African was a noble and proud individual who had faced the tyranny and oppression of old Europe. In Rousseau’s “Reveries of the Solitary Walker”, he describes the beauty of the Swiss landscape and his feeling of communion with it. He relates his feelings of the joy of “pure sensation”, an abandonment of oneself. His notion of “the abandonment of thought and feeling oneself in unison with nature” shows a true romantic ideal. Romantic artists tended to depict nature as a reflection of sensations on their own souls. An example of romantic “natural” art would be John Constable’s “The White Horse”. This painting has great emphasis on nature, even in the title. It

shows a small white horse and an enormous amount of scenery. The accent on the natural world is extraordinary. His style was the forerunner of the modern approach to painting. Another very naturalistic painting would be Francisco de Goya’s “The Dog”, which shows only a dog’s head and almost no definite scenery, but very natural colors and content. The body of the dog is hidden behind

something that almost resembles sandstone. This painting is also quite modern, Goya was similarly on the brink of the Modern Era of art. In Literature Keats, Dickenson, and Wordsworth were all very naturalistic in their approaches to writing. In a poem named “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”, natural objects are used to express a feeling of loneliness. Here is an excerpt from that poem to help

prove this point. “I wandered lonely as a cloud-That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; beside the lake, beneath the tree, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” Simple, yet so lovely, a perfect example of how much nature was used in romantic literature. No matter if the writing was about life altering experiences or an ordinary day, many times the romantic poet expressed feelings through nature and with profound passion.

The significance of individualism in the Romantic Era was astonishing. There are countless songs, poems, and paintings featuring this point in romanticism. Rousseau wrote, “If I am not better than other men, at least I am different!”. This is a terrific example of the individualistic thought at this time. The painting “The Dog” by Goya (used once before in this essay) is an almost disturbing example of individualism. The dog’s head is there all alone surrounded by an almost nothingness. The significance of the individual was ever present in art, but this painting shows almost a sadness about it, a sense of loneliness in its creativity. Literature was also full of individualistic thought. Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” shows this very boldly, the title alone gives that away. The way that he talks about the fashion in which his body naturally works made many people uncomfortable and shocked many as well. Whitman writes: “Divine am I inside and out, and I make holy Whatever I touch or am touched from The scent of these armpits aroma finer than prayer

This head more than churches, bibles and all the Creeds.” This is obviously the extent of what people felt at this time, but this writing even shocks us today, probably because we have become more modest.

In conclusion then, the Romantic Era was a period filled with love, passion revolution, individualism, nature, and many more themes like these. This period of time had spawned great literary works, paintings, plays, ballet, and much, much more. Passion and feeling are the most important elements in romanticism, practically everything was done passionately and with intense feeling, much like todays soap operas, which makes the Romantic Period one of the most impressive,

most beautiful, and most extraordinary eras of all time.

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