What Was the Romantic Movement?

by Kimberly Kaplan

About Kimberly Kaplan

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Besides Arts & Entertainment, I am qualified to write about Culture & Society, Education, Food & Drink, Health, Humor, Parenting, Pets, Relationships & Family, and Sports & Fitness (I am a member of the University at Binghamton, New York Athletic Hall of Fame).

The Romantic Movement, also known as Romanticism, began in Western Europe in the later half of the 18th century and remained popular well into the early 19th century. It was considered a change in the thought processes of the time, from reason and science to use of imagination and respect for nature. Romantics expressed their views mainly within the arts; literature, poetry, music and painting. The ideals behind the Romantic Movement were rooted in politics and allowed artists to allow people to consider the world in a different way. The impact of the Romantic Movement allowed people to change the way they were thinking from the more or less pre-determined mindset of a person's role in the world to the consequences of exploiting nature to the expression of a person's imagination as the supreme value one can add to society.

What Started the Romantic Movement?

The Romantic Movement was a reaction to the industrial period, how people thought about themselves, and how they thought about their world in general. They wanted to inject emotions and feelings and passion and mix them within the natural world. Since reason dominated, romantics were people who began to pull away from what they perceived as the industrialization or exploitation of nature while attempting to infuse emotional responses and religious fervor into nature, beauty, fear, love and everyday life.

Where Was It Generally Located?

The Romantic Movement began in Western Europe, mostly in England and Germany. The stronghold of Romanticism was located in these two countries rather than in the countries of the so-called "Romance languages," Italy, Spain, and France. Romanticism eventually spread throughout the world and still exists, in some forms, today.

Important Influence of the Romantic Movement

Considered the most important figure during the Romantic Movement, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's first novel was "The Sorrows of Young Werther" published in 1774. Other important dates that are attributed to the Romantic Movement are 1798, the year the "Lyrical Ballads" by Wordsworth and Coleridge was published and 1832, the year of "Hymns of the Night" by Novalis was published. Other influential artists included poets William Blake, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. Also considered Romantics were Mary Shelley, and Emily and Charlotte Bronte.

The Romantic Movement and Revolutions

The Romantic Movement is partially credited with assisting with the thoughts behind the American and French revolutions. It was these revolutions that coordinated national pride with newfound feelings of liberty, expression of oneself, and freedom.

Imagination and Nature

Reason was out, and imagination was in. Romantics' power of imagination was now equivalent to nature, which was considered the ultimate power. Imagination was considered active and vital to the creation of art itself. Nature was a work of art itself to Romantics, the ultimate work of art. The imagination that created nature was the divine imagination. Nature was organic, not scientific. The universe, by Romantics, was no longer seen as a machine, the popular industrialized viewpoint of the time.

Coming Together of Opposites

Romantics did not necessarily want to completely disregard reason. They wanted to merge reason with feeling through imagination. Art being the byproduct of the imagination. They wanted to bypass appearances, steer people away from what looks reasonable to what feels reasonable.

What to Look for in Art from the Romantics

Romantics tried to replace language with symbols. They believed symbols were more important than language because the interpretations were greater. Symbols were therefore allowed to create myth, because there was always more than one suggestion given within any symbol.

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