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Transcript of Romanticism
An In-Depth Look at the Periods (1800-1850)
An 18th century movement that emphasizes inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy (importance) of the individual.
Romantics idealized the subjective, irrational, imaginative, personal, spontaneous, emotional, visionary, and transcendental (a priori--meaning independent of knowledge (reliant on instinct) or spiritual/non-physical realm).
This period was a conscious movement to transform theory and practice in all art AND (more importantly) the very way the world is perceived.
Characteristics of the Romantics
- Imagination over reason and formal rules
- Primitivism (a focus on early evolution and primary stages in evolution)
- Love of nature
- An interest in the past
- Mysticism (belief that union with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or the spiritual apprehension of knowledge inaccessible to the intellect, may be attained through contemplation and self-surrender)
-Idealization of rural life
- Enthusiasm for the wild, irregular, or grotesque
- Enthusiasm for the uncivilized or "natural"
-Supreme faculty of the mind
-Ultimate shaping and creative power
-Dynamic and active
-Primary faculty for creation of all art
-Helps to perceive the world around us AND, at the same time, create parts of the world around us
-Allows us to read nature as a system of symbols
-Romantics viewed nature as a healing power
-Also viewed nature as a refuge from the artificial constructs of civilization
-Romantics viewed nature as organic (as a tree or mankind itself), not mechanical (as with the deistic (is the belief that reason and observation of the natural world are sufficient to determine the existence of a Creator) image of a clock)
-Preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional individual
-Focus lay on the individual's passions and inner struggles
-The artist is supreme--a creator whose creative spirit is more important than adherence to formal rules
-Imagination is the gateway to the transcendental (spiritual/nonphysical realm)
The Romantic Hero
-Promoted the artist as an "inspired" creator, not a "maker" or technical master
-Must possess an understanding of his inner self/inner world
-Must understand the value of experience through emotion, intuition, and feelings (not reason and logic)
-Audience must be able to relate (think the tragic hero)
The Everyday and the Exotic
-Use of "local color"
-Elevation and praise of the myth, legend, and folklore
-Used unsophisticated art forms
-Children possessed greater wisdom than adults
-Exotic on time and place
-Realms of existence that were opposed to reason
-The beautiful soul in the ugly body (paradoxical combination)
-Romantics combined the everyday with the exotic in a paradoxical combination (added to inclusion of Suspension of Disbelief)
Gothic (Dark Romanticism)
-Focus on humanity's fascination with the grotesque, the unknown, and the frightening aspects of the universe and human soul
-Creates horror by portraying human individuals in confrontation with the overwhelming, mysterious, and terrifying forces found in the cosmos AND within themselves
-Paints a picture of the human condition as an ambiguous mixture of good and evil that cannot be understood through reason
-Human condition is paradoxical, a dilemma of duality--humans divided in the conflict between opposing forces in the world around them and themselves
The Gothic Novel
-Depicts a fallen world (which refers to the idea that a once thriving world existed)
-Readers experience this fallen world through all aspects of the novel: theme, plot, setting, characterizations
-Gothic Hero: isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily (reminding us of what?)
-Villain: epitome of evil--either by his own fall from grace or by some implicit (implied) malevolence (wishing harm to others)
-The Wanderer: found in many Gothic tales--is the epitome of isolation as he wanders the earth in perpetual exile, usually a form of divine punishment
The Double or Doppelganger (German for "double-goer")
-Defined by Frederick S. Frank as "a second self or alternate identity, sometimes, but not always, a physical twin"
-CAN BE in demonic form or lower / bestial self
-Will haunt and threaten the rational psyche of the "victim" to whom they become attached
Literary Techniques and Devices
The double motif (similar to the Doppelganger) involves a conparison or contrast between two characters or set of characters who represent opposing forces in human nature. Depicts the battle between the bestial and rational self. Depicts the internally divided dual nature of mankind.
Forbidden Knowledge and Faust's Pact with the Devil
-Forbidden knowledge/ power is often the goal of the Gothic protagonist
-The Gothic "hero" questions the ambiguous nature of the universe and tries to control the supreme powers mankind cannot, and should not, understand
-God complex-tries to overcome mankind's natural limitations and make himself into a god (which leads to his fall-think Satan's fall)
-CAN evoke admiration of audience through the hero's ambition to defy fate and the cosmos to transcend the mundane and gain eternal and sublime reward
Faust is the protagonist of a classic German legend. A highly successful yet dissatisfied scholar, Faust makes a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowedge and worldly pleasures
Monster / Satanic Hero / Fallen Man
-The search for forbidden knowledge ALWAYS leads to a fall, corruption, or destruction
-Again, think Satan's fall AND Adam's fall
-Gothic hero, therefore, deemed a villain
-Isolated because of fall (forced or self-imposed)
-Either becomes monster or confronts monster (who is his double)
-Satanic hero IF courageously defied God's rules for the universe and tried to transform into a god
-Mad Scientist: tries to transcend human limitations through science (type of Satanic Hero)
Multiple Narrative / Spiral Narrative
-Frequently told through a series of manuscripts (Dracula) or multiple tales (Frankenstein)
-Each new "voice" or series reveals a deeper secret, spiraling inward toward the hidden truth
-Often first-person--compelled to tell the story to a fascinated or captive listener (Rime and Frankenstein); Representing the captivating power of forbidden knowledge
-These narrators reveal the secrets of humankind's soul
Dreams and Visions
-Dreams and visions reveal terrible truths
-When a person sleeps, reason sleeps--allowing the supernatural, unreasonable world to break through
-Dreams, for the Gothics, express the dark, unconscious depths of the psyche that are repressed by reason
-These truths are, typically, too terrible to comprehend by the conscious mind
Signs and Omens
-Reveal the intervention of cosmic forces and often represent psychological or spiritual conflict
Example: Lightening flashes or violent storms may parallel some turmoil within a character's mind
Suspension of Disbelief
-Coined by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817
-Refers to the concept/idea that "if a writer could infuse a 'human interest and a semblance of truth' into a fantastical tale, the reader will suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative
-Essentially, we CHOOSE to believe the impossible for the sake of the text
: "As if"
And now, into the Rime