Romanticism was a movement originating in the mid 19th century, possibly as a reaction to the age of reason brought on by the Enlightenment. Its adherents, which included such fine English poets as Keats and Shelley, tended towards a gentle sort of pantheistic paganism. The Romantics loved the natural world, felt it to be full of wonders both natural and supernatural, and were sad to see those wonders disappearing around them. Many goths consider themselves modern romantics.

Romanticism represents a movement away from earlier poetic form and a differing perspective on the nature of reality.

Primary earmarks of the Romantic movement in England can be listed: sensibility, primitivism, a love of nature, a sympathetic interest in the past, mysticism, and individualism (William Blake and Robert Burns' poetry). Among the specific characteristics embraced by these general attitudes are: the abandonment of the heroic couplet in favour of free and blank verse, the reemergence of the sonnet, the use of Spenserian stanza, and many experimental verse forms, the dropping of the conventional poetic diction in favour of fresher language, the idealization of rural life, enthusiasm for the wild (Kubla Khan), irregular (Rime of the Ancient Mariner) or grotesque (Lord Byron's poetry) in nature and art, unrestrained imagination (Frankenstein by Mary Shelley), sympathy for animal life, sentimental melancholy, interest in ancient and Celtic mythology, and renewed interest in Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney and Milton, among others.

Although the Romantic movement in English Literature had its beginnings in the early 18th century it was not until the middle of the century that its characteristics become prominent and self-conscious (Gray and Blake). The complete triumph of Romanticism was reserved for the early years of the 19th century (Wordsworth, Shelley, Byron and Coleridge).

Viewed in philosophical terms Romanticism has definite meaning. The term designates a literary and philosophical theory that tends to see the individual at the very center of all life and all experience, and it places the individual at the center of art making literature most valuable as an expression of the poet's feelings and attitudes. It places a high premium on the creative function of the imagination and sees art as speaking of the nobler truth than does fact, logic or the here and now. It sees in nature a revelation of Truth and as a portion of the deity and as a more suitable subject for art than any aspect of the world "sullied by the hand of man".

Romanticism. The big word of the day. Shall we dwell on reality, or give ourselves up to our dreams? The term "hopeless romantic" has been coined for ages. Is a hopeless romantic a good thing or a bad thing; does it mean that someone is hopless because their romantic dreams will never be realized, or does it mean they're hopelessly romantic and will never be otherwise?

Thank you for curing me of my ridiculous obsession with love! ~the penniless sitar player (Moulin Rouge)

Even hopeless romantics can lose faith. (Or have it taken from them.) And once that faith is gone, their romanticism will have dissipated. It's a sad day in the world... every day. We are all dreamers- I dream of a reality in which I can harbor dreams and not fear them, or fear having them taken away. ...as is so often the case. Who has a right to tell someone that their dream will never be realized, and that it shouldn't be dreamt?

Time wears away at these dreams, and experience taints them. Is it broken dreams that makes all of the bitter and sad people in the world? Or maybe I'm looking for a reason that's not there.

I am a hopeless romantic, yet bitter enough to question myself. My dreams, and what I liked about myself all destructed. I find myself lonely and reaching out for someone who understands, even a little. Instead, I'm followed around by a blonde-headed bat that is convinced that his money can make me happy. He doesn't fit in my dream world, you see. I sit and speak to people about reality, and to not give up something you can have for something you're not sure exists. But this is me, in my typical stubborn fashion, convinced that I'll find something better. And if not, I'd just as soon be alone.

To blatantly steal a quote I saw and really liked:

Prince Henry: Do you really think there is only one perfect mate?

Leonardo da Vinci: As a matter of fact, I do.

Prince Henry: Well then how can you be certain to find them? And if you do find them, I mean really the one for you, or do you only think they are, then what happens if the person you're supposed to be with never appears, or she does but you're too distracted to notice?

Leonardo da Vinci: You learn to pay attention.

Prince Henry: And let's say... God puts two people on earth and they are lucky enough to find one another, but one of them gets hit by lightning, well then what, is that it? Or perchance you meet someone new and marry all over again, is that the lady you're supposed to be with, or was it the first? And if so, when the two of them are walking side by side, were they both the one for you and you just happened to meet the first one first, or was the second one supposed to be first? And is everything chance? Or are some things meant to be?

Leonardo da Vinci: You cannot leave everything to fate boy. She's got a lot to do, sometimes you must give her a hand.


Give fate a hand? Does that mean to say that I must seek out this perfect person? It's very hard when I'm no longer sure what I want... I had a perfect picture of him, maybe it grew to adapt to the person I wanted it to be, but then every bit of it came crashing down. So how do you begin to redefine yourself? What you thought was meant for you... you were not meant for it.

It scares me sometimes that there's nothing for me. Everyone else was dealt a card, and I was left empty-handed. I deal with things... I love people, I love my friends... but I still have a cloud of lonliness hanging over me. Am I a hopeless romantic still? Do I believe that someday I'll achieve all my dreams, be the person I want to be, have someone who understands and cares to stand by my side? I honestly don't know. I try to believe. It's hard, being sad all the time, brought down by nothing and brought down by everything. But I still know that I can't be some completely insignificant speck on the face of the earth. Even the little people like me, who look around and see all these other people who have everything they want and desire to be, still know that there's something special about them. Even if it's only the fact that we hear each other's cries and realize that perhaps we see something those other people are oblivious to. We see shortcomings, we see sadness and pain, we even behold it. You bleed just to know you're alive.

We're holding on to a thread of faith; we've no solid foundation, but we believe that when we must take a step into the darkness, we'll either find something to stand on, or be taught to fly. And only when we take that step will we be brought through the darkness to whatever lies on the other side.

Ro*man"ti*cism (?), n. [CF. It. romanticismo, F. romantisme, romanticisme.]

A fondness for romantic characteristics or peculiarities; specifically, in modern literature, an aiming at romantic effects; -- applied to the productions of a school of writers who sought to revive certain medival forms and methods in opposition to the so-called classical style.

He [Lessing] may be said to have begun the revolt from pseudo-classicism in poetry, and to have been thus unconsciously the founder of romanticism. Lowell.

 

© Webster 1913.

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