romanticism essay 1

For this essay I would like you to point out the defining characteristics of Romanticism both in works from the 1800s and also their legacy in modern literature. These are notes that I’ve given you already but I have added a couple of clarifications (in italics) based on misunderstandings i saw in your Discussion Board responses.

The characteristics I would like you to look for are:

* Romantics favor emotion over reason. In literature, that means you might see some plots that are more focused on drama than on making logical sense. Do not describe characters in the story experiencing strong emotion or acting illogically. The point is that the PLOT might be illogical for the sake of the READER’s emotional experience.

* Romantics invent the “shocking twist ending” that we might know from M. Night Shamalayan movies or, if you’re old enough, the Twilight Zone.

*Romantics invent the “pathetic fallacy”, which is when they use nature to emphasize the emotions of the characters. So for example during a murder mystery you might expect it to be a dark and stormy night. When lovers break up in Romantic stories (and in modern movies that they influenced) it often rains.

* Romantics often set their stories in the past, or make references to older times like the medieval world or ancient Greece and Rome. They usually portray the past in a very positive light (forgetting its plagues and massacres) and even today you’ll hear people accused of “romanticizing the past”. Do not write about authors talking about their own younger years. They need to be referencing bygone eras.

* Romantics portray nature as a sacred, nurturing force. One group of Romantics, the Transcendentalists, thought that to get closer to God you should forget the church and dwell in nature.

* Romantics do not trust any institutions such as government and organized religion. Many of their heroes are rebels, misfits, and those who refuse to conform to society, like Hester Prynne from the Scarlet Letter (a great example of Romantic fiction for those of you who might have read it in high school).

*Romantics often hint that supernatural forces (angels, demons, fairies, magic) are at work in their stories. But it’s generally just a hint. You won’t see a dragon or a wizard pop up in a Romantic story, it’s more of a subtle or ambiguous suggestion.

Please identify each of these traits as they appear in the works of Washington Irving, Lousia May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, or Herman Melville. You only need to find one instance of each trait and they don’t all need to be found in the same story. Please provide some context as to WHY the character, plot point, or line you’ve selected is an example of one of these Romantic traits.

Next, please identify one use of each of these traits in modern (20th or 21st century) literature, along with context. Again, they need not all be found in the same story. Modern literature may include novels, short stories, movies, TV, lyrics, comic books, and even video games.

minimum of 3 double spaced pages (750 words)

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