Romanticism in America



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Romanticism in America
The European Romantic movement reached America during the early 19th century. Like the Europeans, the American Romantics demonstrated a high level of moral enthusiasm, commitment to individualism and the unfolding of the self, an emphasis on intuitive perception, and the assumption that the natural world was inherently good while human society was filled with corruption.
Romanticism became popular in American politics, philosophy and art. The movement appealed to the revolutionary spirit of America as well as to those longing to break free of the strict religious traditions of the early settlement period. The Romantics rejected rationalism and religious intellect. It appealed especially to opponents of Calvinism, a Protestant sect that believes that the destiny of each individual is preordained by God.
American Romanticism was an off-shoot of this broader intellectual or literary outlook. It was a very optimistic attitude that emphasized feeling and emotion and sentiment as opposed to reason. It was a reaction to the Age of Enlightenment that had gone before. The universe was not a static mechanism as people during the Age of Enlightenment thought, but rather an organic entity that was constantly changing. Change was a fact of life. It was based on the idea of progress and betterment. Perfection was one of the words that represented a common romantic notion.

America's preoccupation with freedom became a great source of motivation for Romantic writers as many were delighted in free expression and emotion without so fear of ridicule and controversy. They also put more effort into the psychological development of their characters, and the main characters typically displayed extremes of sensitivity and excitement. The works of the Romantic Era also differed from preceding works in that they spoke to a wider audience, partly reflecting the greater distribution of books as costs came down and literacy rose during the period. The Romantic period saw an increase in female authors and readers.






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