Some of the main characteristics of Romantic literature are a focus on the writer or narrator’s emotions and inner world, a celebration of nature, beauty, and imagination, a rejection of industrialization and organized religion, and the inclusion of supernatural or mythological elements.

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The Romantic movement lasted from about the 1770s to the 1850s. While the Romantic sensibility permeated multiple artistic mediums, in literature, it often manifested in passionate poetry and stories of individualism, the sublime, and heightened emotion.

Here are some key characteristics of the movement.

A love of the natural world: ...


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The Romantic movement lasted from about the 1770s to the 1850s. While the Romantic sensibility permeated multiple artistic mediums, in literature, it often manifested in passionate poetry and stories of individualism, the sublime, and heightened emotion.

Here are some key characteristics of the movement.

A love of the natural world: Nature was often lionized in Romantic verse. The Prelude by William Wordsworth is perhaps the most famous example of the Romantic appreciation of the spiritual renewal to be found by spending time in the countryside.

An emphasis on the supernatural: Gothic literature came into vogue during the early years of the Romantic movement with Horace Walpole"s The Castle of Otranto. Later gothic novels such as Matthew Gregory Lewis"s The Monk would refine Walpole"s formula, emphasizing the presence of demons, angels, ghosts, and other beings beyond the corporeal world.

A celebration of one"s inner world, emotions, and individuality: For the Romantics, the individual"s feelings and experiences were of the utmost importance. A novel like Goethe"s The Sorrows of Young Werther focused on the intense emotional pain felt by a young man experiencing unrequited love. The mystical poems of William Blake emphasized an inner world totally freed from worries about convention.

Critical attitudes toward organized religion: Many Romantic writers were critical of organized religion, often finding it oppressive and inconducive to true transcendence or experience with the divine. Some such as Percy Shelley were open atheists, but others like William Blake were unconventional in their spiritual beliefs.

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Fascination with the past: For the Romantics, the past was seen as free of the corrupting influence of modern industrialization. As a result, Romantic novels and poetry were often set in antiquity or the middle ages.

Critical attitudes toward industrialization and the city: Hand in hand with their love of nature, the Romantics abhorred industrialization"s effects on the natural world as well as its effects on the health of the human psyche. After all, if nature is a spiritual restorative, then an industrial world is its antithesis, as seen in the nightmarish urban cityscape of William Blake"s poem "London."