Critical Lens Essay on the quote "Classicism is health, Romanticism is disease" using Walden and The Indian Burying Ground

Essay by MagicMan32High School, 11th gradeA, June 2007

download word file, 3 pages 5.0

The German author J.W. Goethe stated that “Classicism is health, Romanticism is disease.” I disagree with this statement; I don’t think that Romanticism should be classified as a disease at all. In fact, many Romantic authors and poets wrote about nature in their works, which is inextricably linked to health and vitality. Romanticism is not a disease because Romantic authors emphasized the restorative qualities of nature in their works.

A prime example of this is Henry Thoreau’s “Walden.” In Walden, Thoreau escapes from the city and goes out into the woods, forsaking the modern. Nature was his only companion during this time period, and he absorbs it and becomes one with it. This is evidently shown in this quote "Yet I experienced sometimes that the most sweet and tender, the most innocent and encouraging society may be found in any natural object, even for the poor misanthrope and most melancholy man.

There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature and has his senses still… nothing can rightly compel a simple and brave man to a vulgar sadness”.(Solitude p. 1704). Here, Thoreau proves the vitality of Romantic writing, by representing sadness as a disease. He speaks about how this “disease” can be cured by turning to nature and its solitude; he says that even the poorest man can find solace in nature and become happy. He shows that nature is the ultimate driving force behind people and their emotions.

Another good example is Philip Freneau. Freneau refers to nature frequently in his poem The Indian Burying Ground. In this poem, he talks about another form of disease—death. Most people see death in a negative light, but Freneau portrays it in a good way. He says that after death, you still stay active...