Romanticism Essay

1358 words - 6 pages

American Romanticism values feeling, intuition, and individual freedom. The Romanticist Movement, which took place in the early 19th century, included literary elements that had previously never been seen in literature. Primary characteristics of romanticism are the valuing of feeling over intuition, placing faith in the inner experience and imagination, and shunning the artificiality of society for nature’s beauty. Earlier American literary works had been composed primarily of folklore, politics, and religion. Romanticism was fueled by an appeal to the emotion and passion of mankind. Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a tale of the misadventures of a schoolteacher in Sleepy ...view middle of the document...

He states, “And I!- to-night my heart is light!- no dirge will I upraise,” (Citation). The narrator possessed such a great passion for Lenore that his heart no longer carries weight, for Lenore had his heart, and now that is gone. Passion is a rightfully associated with love, as love is also a strong, uncontrollable emotion. For the narrator, his deepest passion was his love for Lenore. This is significant because love and passion were seldom spoken of in literature before the Romantic Movement. In To -- -- --. Ulalume: A Ballad, the narrator exhibits passion through his longing for a lost lover. The narrator had never been able to move past his passion for his lover, and his psyche controlled him due to that. He states, “Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her, And tempted her out of her gloom-“(Citation). The narrator is so passionate as to still imagine kissing his lost lover. He is also driven by psyche, or the human soul or spirit. The soul is associated with emotion and passion, so emotion controls the life of the narrator. This had never been encountered in works before the Romantic Era. Passion is one of the key appeals made to readers of Romantic works.
Romanticism is characterized by fear-mongering stories. These include Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum and Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow Fear in a work of prose can be aided by a vivid description of the setting, allowing the reader to imagine that they are the character. In Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum, an exceptional description of the narrator’s surroundings are given. The narrator has been imprisoned by the Inquisition and is sentenced to death by pit or pendulum in his cell. However, Poe vividly describes the sharpened pendulum, the seemingly bottomless pit, and the cell, enabling the reader’s imagination to enter the scene. The narrator states, “I longed, yet dared not, to employ my vision. I dreaded the first glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast lest there should be nothing to see. At length, with a wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. The blackness of eternal night encompassed me.” (Citation). The narrator is so fearful of opening his eyes he debates whether or not to even employ his vision. The reader is able to imagine the scene and the narrator’s fear when he describes the “blackness of eternal night.” Much like The Pit and the Pendulum, Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow uses fear to appeal to readers. In Sleepy Hollow, Ichabod Crane contends for the heart of a beautiful, affluent young girl with Brom Bones. Sleepy Hollow is a town known for the supernatural, and in the end of the novel Ichabod Crane is possibly confronted by the Headless Horseman, one of the supernatural figures in the town. Irving stirs up fear in the readers through the supernatural. As it is impossible to confirm the supernatural, its existence is always unknown. The uncharted...

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