Romanticism: The Cultural Period

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The cultural period known as “Romanticism” arose at the end of the eighteenth and was characterized by radical changes in intellectual, artistic, and social patterns. It is generally understood as concluding in the early nineteenth century. It reflected revolutions in America and France, but also England in the form of the Industrial revolution. These dramatic changes in the world were mirrored, in turn, by significant developments in poetry, prose, and fiction. Although it may be said that "[t]here were as many Romanticisms as there were Romanticists, and any attempt to reduce this period to a few slogans [...] is bound to be false," (614) especially given that some writers worked towards the changes accompanying this period of time, while …show more content…
Each may be said to have personified and contributed to the commonly associated attributes of romantic literature, as "refer[ring] to a permanent and recurrent characteristic of the human spirit, a tendency to idealism, imaginative speculation, and emotional indulgence." (612) Thus, while Burns’ realistic satires may fit familiarly to traditional eighteenth century poetry, certain qualities of his works--lyricism, use of common Scottish dialect, and rural life settings--link him strongly to the Romantic …show more content…
Again, the joint emphasis on human imagination was made clear by Shelley’s description of imagination as “the principle of synthesis”, defined in opposition to reason, as imagination affirmatively created whereas reason merely followed from the already existing. (618). A focus on spiritual beauty was a focus was shared by Keats, but who also embraced the natural beauty of nature and humanity, even while distinguishing himself from the rebellious strains present in the writings of Byron or Shelley. Keats, again, also emphasized the power of the human imagination, proclaiming that he was “certain of nothing but of . . . the truth of Imagination.”

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