The Age of Romanticism in American Literature

Essay by jonocketHigh School, 11th gradeA+, March 2006

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The Age of Romanticism was a short yet meaningful period in American literature. American literature developed in dramatic ways during this age. Moving away from their European roots American writers started composing more and more articles unique to American culture. For the next two decades, American writers such as Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walt Whitman, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, produced scores of essays, nonfiction narratives, poems, short stories, and novels that formed a distinctive American literature.

During the Age of Reason journalism was greatly influenced and largely followed British models. There was no exclusively American writing style. Because of this, American authors wrote on the same subjects as Europeans. The style of writing at that time was very dry and factual. Everything written during this time had to be "proved" or it was not accepted by society. This lead to very factual and science based writing without any feeling whatsoever.

For example Thomas Paine's Age of Reason was based on science because that is how Paine "proved" his theories.

When America started to reject this type of writing they started to write "American". Unfortunately, when they refused to follow the European example they swung the pendulum to the other extreme. Now everything that was being written in America was overflowing with feeling, thought, and mystery. If the Age of Reason accepted all that was rational, the Age of Romanticism rejected rationalism. Where the Age of Reason produced no imaginative literature, the Age of Romanticism produced oodles of fiction and lighthearted stories. The writing in America had undergone a complete transformation.

By rejecting European literature America had created its own style. America fashioned a style unique to America that she could be proud of. Instead of starting from scratch, America had the chance to interweave and...