Romantic Period of Literature in America Essay Example
The American Romanticism movement represented a struggling country in its time of need; but became embraced by many authors, producing one of the greatest philosophical movements in American History. The authors gave us insight on the attitudes and values of society during the time. With authors such as, Emerson, Holmes, and Melville, they gave the readers their personal perspective through their writings. Portraying their attitudes and feelings, rather than facts and knowledge. Their work ranged from poets, dark romantics, and transcendentalists, all showing their ideas, emotions, and attitude in their literature.
Poets like Bryant, Holmes, and Longfellow generally focused on romanticism in society along with the hardships they endured. These historical poets used their emotions to reflect upon their own truths and beliefs through their literature. In Bryant’s poem Thanatopsis, he discussed his perspective on death, but finds peace in death when he realizes death represents a part of nature. Bryant asserts near the beginning of his poem Thanatopsis “When thoughts / Of the last bitter hour come like a blight / Over thy spirit, and sad images” (Bryant). Bryant displays that when anger of death comes among this person, it hurts their soul, showing a very dramatic attitude toward the fear of death. However, near the end of the poem he states, “yet all these shall leave / Their mirth and their employments, and shall come / And make their bed with thee” (Bryant). In this quote, he expresses that even though everyone will experience death, in the end they will live together. Bryant gives a more positive outlook on death toward the end of the poem, giving the idea that he found death less intimidating than before. Holmes became another known poet of the time, writing Old Ironside as one of his most known poems. In Holmes's poem, Old Ironside, he writes about a forty-four gun American Warship which planned on being destroyed. Holmes emitted the poem to the Boston Daily Advertiser as a sentiment toward the decommissioning of the ship. In the poem, he states “Long has it waved on high / And many an eye has danced to see / That banner in the sky” (Holmes). In the text he expresses his love toward the ship and the service it has given over its many years. Wanting society to know what the ship has done for them Holmes uses poetry to express his emotions to persuade them. Holmes and Brayant used their poetry to express something that had meaning to them. When analyzing the poem in depth, the author's view becomes clear in what they want the reader to know and understand through their emotions.
Dark Romantics, another group of writers focused on irrational and demonic writings. They wrote unusual stories, usually using symbols that show deeper meaning. Nathaniel Hawthorne, a Dark Romantic author, wrote A Minister's Black Veil. Telling the story of a priest named Hooper, who begins to wear a black veil. Hawthorne writes that Hooper begins to wear the veil when a young girl dies, and never removes his veil for anyone, not even at his own death. In the Minister’s Black Veil, Hawthrone wants the reader to know the reasoning of why Hooper wears the veil and states at the end “In his case however, the symbol has a different import. In early life, he had accidentally killed a beloved friend; and from that day till the hour of his death, he hid his face from men” (Hawthorne). The quote above shows Hooper covered his face due to the death of his friend, and showed his grief through the veil of how ashamed he felt. Hawthorne reflected on how society viewed Hooper and displayed the attitudes of people and how they criticized him. A well known author Herman Melville wrote, The Quarter-Deck, becoming one of the most important chapters in the novel Moby Dick. In this chapter, Melville writes about a man named Ahab who has an incident with a pipe. He suddenly focuses on the finding of a white whale, but enlists the crew to kill Moby Dick instead. Melville states in the chapter “all ye mast headers have before now heard me give orders about a white whale. Look ye! D’ye see this Spanish ounce of gold” (Melville). This presents an important part of the story where Ahab says he will give gold to the first person who sees the whale. It gives the reader the idea of how things worked and what their journey represented. It presented the attitudes of the people, and how they reacted to certain situations. Hawthorne and Melville helped us understand what people of the time thought, and how people then, reacted to situations. When understanding the characters, and how they reflect on things, it can give insight on how they felt, and what the authors want the reader to understand.
The last group of writers called transcendentalists, accepted each other's writings as a way of understanding life, and not religious beliefs. They mostly wrote of their own experiences, or about the things they thought should change. A famous transcendentalist named Henry Thoreau wrote Walden, which gave us insight on the two years he left to rediscover himself close to nature. Throughout the writing, Thoreau informs us of his daily routine, but in the end shows the realization of his time there. He stated in the last chapter of Walden, “The light which puts our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star” (Thoreau). Walden became a reflection of what he learned and tells the audience of heightened perception of the way he views things. Through his literature, we can learn Thoreau’s perspective to understand how he feels and expresses himself in writing. Another transcendentalist named Ralph Emerson, most known for writing Self-Reliance, by arguing that having self reliance acts as the true path to peace, and that it can improve society. In his writing he stated “ Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members” (Emerson). In this passage he shows his attitude toward society, and further implies, it needs to change due to its flaws. Emerson gives his perspective by stating they have no trust within one another and it stops people from progressing. In his own reliance he progresses, while others stay in conspiracy. Emerson’s writing Self-Reliance focused on reliance,not only as an individual, but a society as a whole. With authors like Thoreau and Emerson, understanding their views can help us understand what took place. These writing’s showed what authors valued, and thought of their society and what required change for them.
Overall through literature, analyzing the text and learning what the author wants the reader to know helps us understand what the American Romanticism movement portrayed. It shows clarity in the author's attitude toward society, and how they reacted to situations or struggles in society. In the literature, understanding the author’s values and how they wanted to better society, represents an important part in this time period. By learning how literature reflects society, understanding romanticism through authors, and connecting their ideas and perspectives of society becomes easier.