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American Romanticism

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Laura Abercrombie

on 18 September 2014

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Transcript of American Romanticism

American Romanticism
The American Renaissance

Emphasis on Improvement & Reform (Change)
The 5 I's of Romanticism
renewal; rebirth; revival
"God gave humankind the gift of intuition, the gift of inspiration."

"Nature is a doorway to truth."
intellectual improvement
social reform
improvements in public education
improvements in medicine
abolitionists struggled to end slavery
feminists campaigned for women's rights
"I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was life and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.
--Henry David Thoreau
to go BEYOND . . .
"I sound my barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world."
--Walt Whitman
Characteristics of Romanticism
Transcendentalists believed in:
the power of thought and free will
openness and perfectibility of the human mind
the divinity of humanity and nature
"To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time"
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today,
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a-getting;
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best, which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

--Robert Herrick
"Nothing Gold Can Stay"
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower,
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leave,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day,
Nothing gold can stay.
--Robert Frost
What THEME do these two poems share?
Which characteristics of ROMANTICISM are reflected in these poems?
"The Road Not Taken"
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had troden black.
Oh! I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

--Robert Frost
What THEME do Thoreau and Frost share?

How is ROMANTICISM and/or TRANSCENDENTALISM reflected in Thoreau's writing and in Frost's poem?
What does Whitman mean by "barbaric YAWP"?

How does this idea reflect characteristics of ROMANTICISM and/or TRANSCENDENTALISM?
Oh Me! Oh Life! . . . of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless--of cities fill'd with the foolish . . .
What good amid these, O me, O life? . . .
That YOU are HERE--that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and YOU may CONTRIBUTE a verse.
--Walt Whitman
How does the THEME presented here reflect characteristics of Romanticism &/or Transcendentalism?
Movie Themes:
Dead Poets Society
Two Approaches to Education:
1. a strict, TRADITIONAL, structured approach
2. a freer, STUDENT-CENTERED approach
1. PEER relationships
2. STUDENT-TEACHER relationships
3. PARENT-CHILD relationships
And . . .
Seize the Day!

school of thought that values and
over reason.
The Romantic Hero Archetype
innocent; pure of purpose
virtuous, simple morality; has a sense of honor based on on society's rules, but on some higher principle
intuitive; emotionally intelligent; has a knowledge of people and of life based on deep, intuitive understanding, not formal education
folksy & down-to-earth
The First Romantic Hero
Modern Examples
What similarities do
you see between the
characteristics of
American Romanticism
and American culture today?
Nathaniel (Natty) Bumppo
is the protagonist of James Fenimore Cooper's pentalogy of novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales.
1. Imagination and Escapism
2. Individuality
3. Nature as a source of spirituality
4. Looking to the past for wisdom
5. Seeing the common man as a hero

Imagination and Escapism
Industrial Revolution --> progress ---> optimism
People wanted to escape from the vile and overcrowded cities.

personal identity and identity as a country
distance ourselves from Europe; characters that live on the outskirts of society
Nature as a source of spirituality
Getting back to the spiritual ideals of the Puritans but in a new way
Where the Puritans saw nature as savage, with the Devil hiding behind every tree, the Romantics really are finding God in nature
Looking to the past for wisdom
Using old legends
poetic forms and techniques are the same; content is different (love, patriotism, nature, family, God, and religion
"Fireside Poets" because their work was read aloud at the fireside as family entertainment
Common man as hero
love of nature; distrust of "town life"--has broken from social restraint
skillful frontiersman; almost superhuman resourcefulness
is a representation of the poet, prophet, or visionary
adventurous & danger-seeking
sentimental about the past
He's young, he's innocent and awkward with the ladies, but he has a solid moral code, even if he doesn't always follow society's rules. He has intuition about people, he loves nature, and he's questing for a higher truth.
immigration --> melting pot
Two sub-groups of Romanticism
Dark Romanticism
Transcendentalists thought:
nature was a doorway to a mystical world holding important truths
optimistically; the glass was half full
The Dark Romantics
emerged from the transcendental philosophical movement ; influenced by Transcendentalism, but did not entirely embrace the ideas of Transcendentalism
While both groups believe nature is a deeply spiritual force, Dark Romanticism views it in a much more sinister light than does Transcendentalism, which sees nature as a divine and universal organic mediator.
Some, including Poe, Hawthorne and Melville, found Transcendental beliefs far too optimistic and egotistical and reacted by modifying them in their prose and poetry
Dark Romantics present individuals as prone to sin and self destruction, not as inherently possessing divinity and wisdom.
The natural world is dark, decaying, and mysterious; when it does reveal truth to man, its revelations are evil and hellish.
Dark Romanticism frequently show individuals failing in their attempts to make changes for the better.
The darker side of human existence:
horror, tragedy, the macabre and the supernatural.
Psychological effects of guilt and sin
Dark tales of obsession, revenge, shame, madness, and derangement
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Changed his name from Hathorne to separate himself from his Puritan ancestors; ashamed
Explored the guilt/shame of the Puritan lifestyle
reclusive tendencies

The Minister's Black Veil
p. 299
How do these images exemplify romantic ideals?
a castle, preferably haunted
ruined buildings
dungeons, underground passages, crypts, and catacombs
labyrinths, dark corridors, and winding stairs,
shadows, a beam of moonlight in the blackness, a flickering candle
extreme landscapes, rugged mountains, thick forests
omens and ancestral curses,
magic, supernatural, or the suggestion of the supernatural,
a passion-driven, wilful villain-hero or villain,
a curious heroine with a tendency to faint
a hero whose true identity is revealed by the end of the novel,
horrifying (or terrifying) events or the threat of such happenings.

The Gothic creates feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense and tends to the dramatic and the sensational, like incest, diabolism, and nameless terrors.
feeling of dread, anticipation which
is the feeling of revulsion that usually occurs
something frightening is seen, heard, or otherwise experienced
Gothic Motifs
Thanatopsis" by William Cullen Bryant
Dictionary definition of a word
Summer: The season between spring and fall
Words, images, feelings associated with the word
Summer: Vacation, beach, parties,
friends, sleeping in
a poem of serious reflection, typically a lament for the dead.
a recurrent symbol or motif in literature, art, or mythology; a very typical example of a certain person or thing.
A symbol is a person, place, thing, or event that has meaning in itself and also stands for something more than itself
An archetype is a supersymbol
Read excerpts from Thoreau's Walden
Read excerpt from Emerson's
Self Reliance
"Where I Lived, What I Lived For
Write an essay comparing/contrasting Emerson and Thoreau.
Paragraph 1: Intro
Paragraph 2: Compare/Contrast Theme
Paragraph 3: Compare/Contrast how they relate to Transcendentalist theme
Paragraph 4: Conclusion
The Fall of the House of Usher
Frailties of the human mind; madness
the occult
Setting = mood/atmosphere
Grandfather of American Horror
Pathetic Fallacy
a technique for creating atmosphere in a story.
Emotions are given to setting, objects and / or weather. This often reflects the main character(s)' mood, or the mood of the book
e.g. stormy emotions are externalized in a physical storm.
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