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The Gradual Shift as Literary Works Moved towards Romanticism

Romanticism began in the latter part of the 18th century and lasted up to the first half of the 19th century. It was a literary and artistic movement that was influenced by periods such as the Classical, the Enlightenment, and the Sturm und Drang and works of various people like Jean Jacques Rousseau, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The Classical period from 8th century BC up to 600 AD was centered on the foundations of art, literature, architecture, and music.

Romanticism, on the contrary, appealed less to the structure and rigidity of the analysis on life and more to the emotion and freedom in nature (Brian, 1998). Classicism paved the way to the emergence of the Renaissance which was, then, followed by the Enlightenment Period. Enlightenment was a period also called as the Age of Reason by Thomas Paine. Nature, then, was explained through rationality than through individual feelings. In this period, the Jean Jacques Rousseau’s writings such as Julie, or the New Heloise, provided a new look towards the social conditions of his time (Gascoigne, 2009).

Seeing the effects of modernization during his time, he believed how detrimental it was to human development and, therefore, advised man to return to his natural state to achieve happiness. Tagging along the Age of Enlightenment, the German literary movement called Sturm und Drang gave rise to freedom of expression and subjectivity in literature and music which was opposite to the rationality and restriction of articulation during the Period of Enlightenment (Knapp, 2003).

German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther was known for presenting views regarding optimism for joy, resistance towards governance, and subjectivity which, undoubtedly, inspired the advent of the Romantic literary movement. Goethe’s novel ends terribly when the protagonist committed suicide because of unreciprocated love. Voltaire’s tragedies driven by his philosophical beliefs are also accounted for the development of the Romanticism. George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, as a representative of the German Idealism, declared that a man’s spirit and soul enables his subsistence.

Another literary work that is said to have instigated Romanticism was the Lyrical Ballads of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge published in 1798. In this collection of poems, the authors emphasized the importance of life, emotions and nature. Man, initially, depended on nature in describing every phenomenon around him. This was when man’s life was free from the results of modernization. Through time, he seeks new ways of explaining the why’s and how’s of the known and even that of the unknown.

He, then, discovered that elements in his life and in the world he is living in can be clarified through rationality and subjectivity. The Middle Ages, lasting for about a millennium, promoted individuality and allowed much creativity in terms of understanding the nature. When Renaissance came into view, there was a totally new approach into explaining things. In contrast to subjectivity and creativity, man began to look into things rationally. Science was viewed as a constricted and heartless method. In trying to explain things, man learned to find practical solutions to life’s complexities.

Life is, then, explained and happiness is truly achieved using and following one’s soul. The period was termed Romanticism. References: Brians, Paul. “Romanticism”. 1998. (October 1, 2004). April 12 2009. <http://www. wsu. edu/~brians/hum_303/romanticism. html>. Gascoigne, Bamber. “History of the Romantic Movement”. 2009. History World. April 12 2009. <http://www. historyworld. net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories. asp? historyid=aa73#pagetop>. Knapp, Gerhard P. “Sturm Und Drang [Storm and Stress]”. 2003. The Literary Encyclopedia. April 12 2009. <http://www. litencyc. com/php/stopics. php? rec=true&UID=1266>.

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