HS-102 Readings

Romanticism

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR CHARACTERISTICS OF ROMANTICISM?

WHAT IS ITS RELATIONSHIP TO POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS?

Romanticism is the name of the intellectual era which followed the Enlightenment.

    It is almost exactly opposite in its characteristics to the Enlightenment. The emphasis is upon emotion rather than reason; history and tradition rather than objective planning; admiration of nature rather than control of nature. The emphasis on nature in its untouched state is expressed in the poetry of William Wordsworth. It is also expressed in paintings which focus on peaceful rural scenes. There is a reaction to the dirt and pollution, which accompanied industrialization, expressed in paintings which depict factories creating a kind of hell on earth with smoke and flames belching forth from the chimneys.

    Romanticism becomes the predominant intellectual movement after the disillusionment with the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars has set in. It remains predominant until the Revolutions of 1848 and the counter revolutions of 1849 had dispelled some of the illusions of that time.

     As with the Enlightenment and all other intellectual eras, the movement goes beyond politics into all aspects of intellectual life: art, literature, history and metaphysics.