Romanticism in America

Essay by aircaptain9High School, 11th gradeA, March 2009

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The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Romanticism as “a literary, artistic, and philosophical movement originating in the 18th century, characterized chiefly by a reaction against neoclassicism and an emphasis on the imagination and emotions, and marked especially in English literature by sensibility and the use of autobiographical material, an exaltation of the primitive and the common man, an appreciation of external nature, an interest in the remote, a predilection for melancholy, and the use in poetry of older verse forms.” Although originating in Europe, specifically England and Germany, the Romantic Movement was adopted in the west at around 1830 and paved the way for a new, American style of writing (

The Romantic Movement, a time when new authors like Hawthorne, Simms, and Melville and new poets such as Poe, Longfellow, and Dickenson first appeared, is considered to be one of America’s greatest creative eras. One of the main reasons American Romanticism is so distinct is that the movement took place as America was expanding westward.

As America was growing and “making a name for herself,” so too were the writers and their styles during this time period ( Some of the major characteristics of the romantic style include the love of nature, sympathetic interest in the past, mysticism, strong reaction against anything that could be called “neo-classicism”, and individualism. The writers tended to abandon the use of poetic verse and used “fresher” language ( The Romantic Movement led to a “liberalism of the arts” (

As stated before, there were several characteristics that defined romanticism. Individualism started playing a major role in the literature. As people began seeing the individual as the center of life, more emotion and personal feeling was put into an author’s writings ( The relation with nature became a new aspect of literature during the Romantic Period.