Poetry is the greatest way to express your imagination. It is the best type of writing.
The people loved folklore, legends, and mythological stories.
Another category of Romantics were the Dark Romantics. They shared many of the same beliefs as the Transcendentalists (see below), but additionally they also:
Used symbolism very often in their writing.
Liked to explore the conflict between good and evil and the psychological effects of guilt and sin in their writing.
They were interested in the ability of the human mind (psyche) when it is mad (crazy) and deranged. (Topics about torture, revenge, obsessive thoughts, etc.)
Literature we read from this time period is “Rip Van Winkle” (short story) by Washington Irving and “The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls” (poem) by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Characteristics of the American Renaissance:
A Literary Coming of Age
(This overlaps with Romanticism!!! It is part of the same overall time period!) The American Renaissance is the time period from about 1840-1860. It overlaps with American Romanticism. Common beliefs for this time were:
Renaissance means “rebirth.” This time is called the Renaissance because it is the rebirth of American Literature. This is when American literary writer’s exploded into styles of their own, breaking away from England/ European styles and traditions. American Literature was “reborn.”
A sub-group of writer’s during this time called themselves transcendentalists.Transcendentalism is the belief that the idea of something is more perfect than the thing itself. For example, if you think about a perfect rainbow in your mind, it is more perfect then one you could draw with crayons. Therefore, the thought of a rainbow is what a rainbow really is. The one you draw with crayons is just an imperfect representation. (This was way before computers existed!)
Transcendentalists believed that humans can be perfect if they work hard enough at it.
People can use their emotions and feelings to feel God’s presence in nature. (If I go sit in the woods in a beautiful spot, and I let my thoughts wandering and focus on how I feel and my emotions, then I will be able to sense God’s presence.)
What an individual person wants in life and the ability of the individual person to take care of him/herself is more important than following the rules and traditions in society.
It is better to suddenly feel strong emotions about something and act on them rather than using your logic skills to think through a situation. (If you were angry at your best friend, it is better to speak from the heart right away about how you feel rather than stop to think things through and plan your words carefully.)
Literature we read from this time period: “The Fall of the House of Usher” (short story) by Edgar Allen Poe