What is Romanticism?
Romanticism refers to a literary or artistic movement in the 18th century which was formed as a sort of revolt against aristocratic ways in the social and political arena. It was said to have helped redefine the norms of Western culture in the past. Romanticism was widely presented in the form of literature, music, and visual arts but extended its impact on education and even natural history.
Friedrich Schlegel, a German poet, has said that romanticism in literature portrays emotions through imaginations and writing. Others also define it as “liberalism in literature”. For many, this definition more or less captures the general tone of Romanticism or the “Romantic Era”. In the mid 18th centuries up to the 19th century, imagination, freedom, and emotion were the three basic points involved in the literature of the Romantic era. It was all about promoting individualism and freedom from political and social norms. It celebrates being able to do things spontaneously without fear of persecution from others.
Romanticism also involved the belief that through imagination, one does not reason. Imagination was said to be supreme over reason and that it shapes a person’s creative power. Through imagination, one is said to be able to reconcile opposing ideas and concepts in the world of appearance. But aside from imagination, “nature” is also often used in Romantic art. Nature may be presented as source of healing power or source of subject. Nature subjects were thought of as free from judgment and restrictions from human society. And so artists and poets were able to utilize this subject in expressing their emotions. Symbols were also widely used in Romantic art. Symbols were said to represent a variety of things including those are thought to be inexpressible in nature.
Romanticism was said to blossom because the era was surrounded by several wars, including the French and Indian War of 1754-1763, the American Revolution in 1775-1783, and the French Revolution in 1789-1799. These wars and other social problems during that time served as the main background for Romantic art. But romanticism or Romantic art is a complex revolution of ideas expressed in art form. What were common then are depictions of love for nature, sense of individualism or nationality and touches of the supernatural or exoticism.