Romanticism is a historical era that began in the late 18th century. Its peak was around 1800 to 1850 when it had a massive influence in Europe. Romanticism is defined as an artistic and intellectual movement comprised of an individual's interest in nature and validation of high emotions and imaginations in expression. Romanticism was a rebellion against the established social classes and conventions. It was a movement established in search of personal freedom in terms of political and artistic elements. Romanticism in particular was a revolt against the age of enlightenment and a reaction to industrialization. Members of romanticism toiled to revive their history and liberate the oppressed people (Licht 1).
Romanticism was mostly concentrated on music, literature, and visual arts. Its influence on politics had an influence on the development of nationalism. The movement advocated for liberation of strong emotions, which were a source of inspiration in expression. It was generally against the use of intellectual control in favor of emotional expression. Romanticism had the belief that emotion was equally vital reason. They argued that emotions were a state of mind. Romanticism represented a human according to the ability of understanding something immediately and in awareness of something. Romanticism escaped the norm in pursuit of individual paths of creativity. This alienation from the population often led to frustrations among the members (Maunder & Andrew 7).
Romantics had alienated themselves from the traditional way of life and beliefs. They viewed nature as God. That is to them God and nature was a single item. Romantics viewed nature as the sole source of power and mystery that inspired awe, self-discovery, and solace. They believed that nature was a medium that united God and the human soul. Romanticism created heroics of creativity and art who were championing for equality and liberty. The romantics were fully aware of their unique destiny, and this self-consciousness was a key element of romanticism.
This paper will to look at three people who spearheaded the romanticism movement through their works of creativity. It will review William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Dorothy Wordsworth and their contribution to the movement. William Wordsworth (1770-1850) was an influential member of the English romanticism movement. As per the Romantics believes, his personality and poetry was guided by his love of nature especially around the Lake county where he lived (Schneider 19). Together with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, they launched Romanticism in English literature. Wordworth’s most notable work is considered to be the poem “The Prelude”, which he reproduced a number of times later. Wordsworth drew his inspiration of writing poems from the natural appearances around him. He believed that, through the senses, an individual had the ability to connect with the nature and its universal forces. Romanticism advocated the idea that an individual was good, but he was corrupted by the society around him. Wordsworth belonged to this school of thought because he believed nature had the ability restore someone’s good stature. In fact, he describes this pure state as a sense of wonder just like that of a child (Maunder & Andrew 23).
William Wordsworth defined poetry as an overflow of powerful feelings that came out without an external stimulus, an emotion that happens in calm. He further describes his poems as experimental. In 1795, he met with Samuel Taylor Coleridge a fellow member of the Romantic Movement. They formed a close friendship that led them to work on an exceptional piece of poetry with the help of Dorothy Wordsworth. Their work was entitled “Lyrical Ballads”, which defined English Romantic Movement. This volume also published Caloridge’s “Rime Of Ancient Mariner” and Wordworth’s, “Tintern Abbey”. The introduction to Lyrical Ballads is considered as the work of romantic literal in action. In it, they discuss an element of new poetry that they use real language of men. This poem avoided using common poem's diction used in the 18th century. This clearly shows the revolutionary nature of their work in line with the practices of the Romantics. Their volume produced four editions. That is why they are largely known as the founders of English Romanticism (Maunder & Andrew 26).
His clear rebellion against the use of existing poem's diction in favor of a more natural tone in poetry is a straight indication of his involvement in the advocacy of Romanticism practices. Wordsworth used lyrical poetry in the formulation of his poems. This style of writing poems had a musical quality of a song, and it expressed personal feelings. In “Tintern Abbey” Wordworth talks about the three elements that form the foundation of 19th century Romanticism. That is, the redemptive power of nature, idea of nature’s sympathy with humankind and the perception that one who is close to nature is close to God.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1832) whom people argue profoundly influenced the work of Wordsworth was an English poet and a literal critique. He founded Romanticism in English literature together with William Wordsworth. Their friendship had an immense influence on the development of poetry in romanticism. Wordsworth and Coleridge travelled together to Germany and later they lived together at Sockburn. This close association led them to influence each- others poetry. It is argued that Coleridge had a greater influence on the poetry pieces of Wordsworth (Somervell 29). He made up new phrases that are used in the modern world. In his adult life, he suffered from depression, which as discussed earlier was a common thing with romantics.
Coleridge most productive years of his life happened when he met William Wordsworth. Their joint volume of poetry “lyrical ballads” signified the start of English Romanticism. Wordsworth may have contributed many poems, but the main attraction in the volume was Coleridges’ poem “the Rime of Ancient Mariner.” It was the longest poem in that volume and drew widespread praise. His poems had influenced all the major poems of the 19th century. His influence revolves around him being a poet and a critic at the same time. Coleridge provided professional advice to Wordsworth and critics attribute conversational poems to him. The idea of using common language in poetry may have originated from him despite recognition falling on Wordsworth (Somervell 34).
Coleridge conversational poems were mainly centered on the landscapes, nature, and their interaction with human beings. The speaker in his poems evokes feelings that nature allows a poet to connect and feel things of life. His poems more often ended where they began and had to provoke powerful emotions, which led to a deeper understanding. It is argued that Coleridge had a greater natural ability than his peer poets did because he mixed logic analysis and emotions. His pieces of work are majorly influenced by the elements that guided the Romanticism movement.
Dorothy Wordsworth (1771-1855) sister to William Wordsworth was an English writer, poet and diarist. She was very close to her brother Wordsworth, and they travelled together. She was closely involved in Wordsworth’s development of poems, and she helped with writing with some of the poems. Her work became popular when critics were reviewing the role of women in literature. This exercise led to the study of her journal entries and poems. One of her journals gave a clear account of her daily life and a shed some light on the literal works of her brother Wordsworth and Coleridge. Her journals revealed that she played a significant role in the success of William Wordsworth’s romanticism poems. Her brother used her journals to develop poems because she gave a detailed account of nature in her journal entries. Dorothy was constantly involved in the poems that her brother and Coleridge wrote together or separately. Dorothy was affected when the health status of Coleridge had seriously deteriorated (Maunder & Andrew 59). Dorothy had little interest in becoming famous as her poet or writer.
Romanticism in literature was going against the scientific revolution and the age of enlightenment. The elements of romanticism not only influenced arts and humanities but also the whole population at large. Romanticism changed how people viewed human emotions, relationships, and institutions. It also changed how emotions were artistically expressed. Over time, the ideals that guided romanticism has not been lost over time. For example, Wordsworth believed in presentation of ordinary things in an unusual way to the mind. Romantics believed that ordinary things, emotions, and experiences could be elevated to extraordinary things. This is a phenomenal used by writers in the modern times to create a colorful piece of writing out of the ordinary occurrences in life. The contribution of Romantics remains relevant in the modern world because the human race is questers to some extent. Every individual must travel through the path of self-actualization in order for self-discovery to occur. Romanticism advocated for self-quest of individuals. Romanticism has the ability to form a creative framework for everything in life (Licht 1).
Licht, Jordan. "The Movements: Romanticism | Nouse." Nouse. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2013. http://www.nouse.co.uk/2012/12/04/the-movements-romanticism/
Maunder, Andrew, and Inc File. The Facts On File companion to the British short story. New York: Facts On File, 2007.
Schneider, Joanne. The age of romanticism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007.
Somervell, D. C. English thought in the nineteenth century. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977.
Schneider, Joanne. The age of romanticism. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2007.