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Title: By: Lindsey Pavlovick

Romanticism in American Literature
  • By Lindsey Pavlovick

Now that we have studied Puritanism and the Age
of Reason, we will look at Romanticism, its
characteristics, and how it differs from other
literary periods in American Literature. Pay
close attention! There will be a short quiz at
the end of the presentation!
Age of Reason
Care for each other
Improve group
Here We Go!
Where Should We Begin?
What is Romanticism?
  • Early 19th century movement in American
  • Reaction to the Neoclassic period
  • Artistic, intellectual movement in the history of
    ideas that stressed strong EMOTION
  • Based on the philosophy of German thinker
    Immanuelle Kant
  • Transcendentalism extreme Romantics

When did Romanticism take place?
  • Early 19th century 1800s
  • 1840s - Transcendentalism

What brought about Romanticism?
  • Opposite reaction to Neoclassicism
  • Revolutionary War brought about new ideas

Logic and Reason influenced freedom
Life, feeling, and emotion stressed independence
philosophy of democracy
Where did Romanticism begin in America?
  • East Coast New England states (Connecticut,
    Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode
    Island, Vermont)

Who was involved in American Romanticism?
  • Famous authors
  • of the 19th
  • century
  • movement
  • Bryant
  • Longfellow
  • Thoreau
  • Whitman
  • Emerson
  • Dickinson
  • Click on the following links to see more
    information online about these authors.
  • http//
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Wikipedia, the free
  • Henry David Thoreau - Wikipedia, the free
  • Walt Whitman - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson - Wikipedia, the free
  • Emily Dickinson - Wikipedia, the free

Introduction to Authors
Introduction to the Authors
Bryant, William Cullen 1794-1878
  • Father of American Poetry
  • Wrote the first American poem in blank verse
  • Outspoken about slavery, freedom of speech and
    religion, and labor unions
  • Wrote Thanatopsis at age 17
  • Thanatopsis view of death

Thou shalt lie down with patriarchs of the
infant world, with kings, the powerful of the
earth, the wise, the good, fair forms, and hoary
seers of ages past, all in one mighty sepulchre.
Introduction to Authors
Next author
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth 1807-1877
  • Fireside poet
  • Attended Bowdoin College at 14
  • Became a professor of languages (French, Spanish,
    Italian, German) at Bowdoin and Harvard
  • Translated Dante into English

Let us, then, be up and doing with a heart for
any fate, still achieving, still pursuing. Learn
to labor and to wait.
Introduction to Authors
Next Author
Thoreau, Henry David 1817-1862
  • Attended Harvard (interested in Greek and Latin
  • Interested in social reform and nature
  • Supported anti-slavery, child labor, anti-war
  • Writings influenced Dr. Martin Luther King and
    Mahatma Ghandi
  • Wrote Walden, his most famous work, while living
    in the woods for two years

If one advances confidently in the direction of
his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has
imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in
common hours.
Introduction to Authors
Next Author
Whitman, Walt 1819-1892
  • Known as the bridge poet between Romanticism
    and Realism
  • Well read in Greek and Roman classics
  • Interested in science
  • Wrote in free verse
  • His book, Leaves of Grass, is considered the
    greatest single most book of poetry in American

… all these all the meanness and agony without
end, I sitting look out upon, see, hear, and am
Introduction to Authors
Next Author
Emerson, Ralph Waldo 1813-1882
  • Considered one of the greatest philosophers and
    thinkers of the 19th century and the single most
    influential writer in shaping American
  • Had a hard life dad died when he was 11, 2
    brothers died, first wife died when he was 29,
    son died at 6
  • However, he remained optimistic about life

To be great is to be misunderstood.
Introduction to Authors
Next Author
Dickinson, Emily 1830-1886
  • Normal childhood but in late 30s, she withdrew
    herself from society
  • After she died, at 56, her sister found all of
    her poetry in a drawer over 1,700 poems total
  • Reputation rose after death
  • Writing known for punctuation of dashes and
    capitalizations for emphasis

Yesterday is history. Tis so far away.
Yesterday is poetry. Tis philosophy.
Introduction to Authors
Beliefs of Romanticism
  • Deep love of nature religious reverence
  • Individualism focus on individual, not society
  • Intuition trust feelings, emotions
  • Nationalism love of country
  • Gothic explore the mysterious, supernatural
  • Exotic yearn for excitement
  • Idealism ideal, perfect (utopia)
  • Optimism mans freedom from social restraint

Beliefs of Transcendentalism
  • Extreme Romantics
  • Intuition 6th sense
  • Love of nature reflects spiritual part of man
  • Nonconformity dont follow the rules- be true
    to self
  • Simplistic lifestyle stressed humanity,
    simplicity oppose material goods

Influence of Romanticism
  • Stressed emotion
  • Influenced way of thinking
  • New attitude in American Literature and America
  • Shift towards the good of the common man

Click on the following links to read short essays
by famous Romantics.
While reading, try to identify any Romantic
beliefs or characteristics in each essay.
  • Thanatopsis
  • The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls
  • Psalm of Life
  • Where I Lived and What I Lived For
  • O Me! O Life!
  • Self-Reliance
  • This is My Letter to the World

Excerpts from Thanatopsis by Bryant
TO HIM who in the love of Nature holds Communion
with her visible forms, she speaks a various
language for his gayer hours She has a voice of
gladness, and a smile and eloquence of beauty,
and She glides into his darker musings, with a
mild and healing sympathy, that steals away Their
sharpness, ere he is aware. …The all-beholding
sun shall see no more in all his course nor yet
in the cold ground, where they pale form was
laid. Thou shalt lie down with patriarchs of the
infant world, with kings, the powerful of the
earth, the wise, the good, the fair forms, and
hoary seers of ages past, all in one mighty
…In majesty, and the complaining brooks that make
the meadows green and poured round all, old
Oceans gray and melancholy waste, are but the
solemn decorations all of the great tomb of
man! … All that tread the globe are but a handful
to the tribes that slumber in its bosom. …So
live, that when thy summons comes to join the
innumerable caravan which moves to that
mysterious realm, where each shall take his
chamber in the silent halls of death, thou go
not, like the quarry-slave at night, scourged to
his dungeon, but sustained and soothed by an
unfaltering trust, approach they grave like one
who wraps the drapery of his couch about him, and
lies down to pleasant dreams.
The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls by Longfellow
The tide rises, the tide falls, The twilight
darkens, the curlew calls Along the sea-sands
damp and brown The traveler hastens toward the
town, And the tide rises, the tide
falls. Darkness settles on roofs and walls, But
the sea, the sea in the darkness calls The
little waves, with their soft, white
hands, Efface the footprints in the sands, And
the tide rises, the tide falls. The morning
breaks the steeds in their stalls Stamp and
neigh, as the hostler calls The day returns, but
nevermore Returns the traveler to the shore, And
the tide rises, the tide falls.
Psalm of Life by Longfellow
Trust no future, howeer pleasant! Let the dead
Past bury its dead! Act act in the living
Present! Heart within, and God oerhead! Lives
of great mean all remind us We can make our lives
sublime, And, departing, leave behind
us Footprints on the sands of time. Footprints
that perhaps another Sailing oer lifes solemn
main. A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing,
shall take heart again. Let us, then, be up and
doing With a heart for any fate, Still achieving,
still pursuing. Learn to labor and to wait.
Tell me not, in mournful numbers Life is but an
empty dream For the soul is dead that
slumbers And things are not what they seem. Life
is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not
its goal Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was
not spoken of the soul. Now enjoyment, and not
sorrow, Is our destined end or way But to act
that each tomorrow Find us farther than
today. Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And
our hearts, though stout and brave Still, like
muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the
grave. In the worlds broad field of battle, In
the bivouac of life Be not like dumb, driven
cattle! Be a hero in the strife!
Excerpts From Walden - Where I Lived and What I
Lived For by Thoreau
When I first took up my abode in the woods, that
is, began to spend my nights as well as days
there, which, by accident, was on Independence
Day, or the Fourth of July, 1845, my house was
not finished for winter… I went to the woods
because I wished to live deliberately, to front
only the essential facts of life, and see if I
could not learn what it had to teach, and not,
when I came to die, discover that I had not
lived… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the
marrow of life… to drive life into a corner, and
reduce it to its lowest terms, and if it proved
to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine
meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the
world or if it were sublime, to know it by
experience, and be able to give a true account of
it in my next excursion. … Our life is frittered
away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to
count more than his ten fingers… Simplicity,
simplicity, simplicity! … I left the woods for as
good a reason as I went there. Perhaps it seemed
to me that I had several more lives to live, and
could not spare any more time for that one. It is
remarkable how easily and insensibly we fall into
a particular route, and make a beaten track for
… The surface of the earth is soft and
impressible by the feet of men and so with the
paths which the mind travels. How worn and
dusty, then, must be the highways of the world,
how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity! I
did not wish to take cabin passage, but rather to
go before the mast and on the deck of the world,
for there I could best see the moonlight amid the
mountains. I do not wish to go below now. I
learned this, at least, by my experience that if
one advances confidently in the direction of his
dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he
has imagined, he will meet with success
unexpected in common hours. … If you have built
castles in the air, your work need not be lost
that is where they should be. Now put the
foundations under them. Why should we be in such
desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate
enterprises? If a man does not keep paste with
his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a
different drummer. Let him step to the music
which he hears, however measured or far
away. …However mean your life is, meet it and
live it do not shun it and call it hard names.
O Me! O Life! By Whitman
O Me! O Life!... of the questions of these
recurring Of the endless trains of the faithless
of cities filld with the foolish Of myself
forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish
than I, and who more faithless?) Of eyes that
vainly crave the light of the objects means
of the struggle ever renewd Of the poor results
of all of the plodding and sordid crowds I see
around me Of the empty and useless years of the
rest with the rest me intertwined The
question, O me! so sad, recurring What good
amid these, O me, O life? Answer. That you are
here that life exists, and identity That the
powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a
Excerpts from Self-Reliance by Emerson
There is a time in every mans education when he
arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance
that imitation is suicide… the power which
resides in him is new in nature, and none but he
knows what that is which he can do, nor does he
know until he has tried. … Trust thyself every
heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the
place the divine Providence has found for you. …
Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the
manhood of every one of its members. Society is
a joint-stock company in which the members agree,
for the better securing his bread to each
shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture
of the eater. The virtue in most request is
conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It
loves not realities and creators, but names and
customs. Whoso would be a man must be a
… A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of
little minds, adored by little statesmen and
philosophers and divines. With consistency, a
great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as
well concern himself with his shadows on the
wall. Speak what you think now in hard words,
and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard
words again, though it contradict everything you
said today. -Ah, so you shall be sure to be
misunderstood. Is it so bad then to be
misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and
Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus,
and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise
spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to
be misunderstood.
This is My Letter to the World by Dickinson
This is my letter to the world, That never wrote
to me, The simple news that Nature told, With
tender majesty. Her message is committed To
hands I cannot see For love of her, sweet
countrymen, Judge tenderly of me!
Lets Compare American Literature Periods
Ready for the quiz?
Read the following questions and respond by
choosing the BEST answer to each question. By
clicking on the answer, you choose your
response. Are you a Romantic?! Lets find out!
Begin the Quiz
What major historical event brought about
  • 1. Industrial Revolution
  • 2. Revolutionary War
  • 3. Impressionism
  • 4. World War II

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Which of the following is a Romantic
  • 1. Love of Nature
  • 2. Individualism
  • 3. Intuition
  • 4. All of the above
  • 5. None of the above

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Which of the following authors contributed to the
Romantic movement?
  • 1. Lincoln
  • 2. Bradbury
  • 3. Thoreau
  • 4. Henry

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Who said the following quote? … that envy is
ignorance that imitation is suicide.
  • 1. Emerson
  • 2. Kant
  • 3. Dickinson
  • 4. Bradbury

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
When did Romanticism take place?
  • 1. 1600s
  • 2. 1700s
  • 3. 1800s
  • 4. 1900s

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Where did Romanticism in American Literature
predominately occur?
  • 1. Great Britain
  • 2. Southwestern America
  • 3. Northeastern America
  • 4. Western Europe

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
What influence did Romanticism have in America?
  • 1. Economic freedom
  • 2. Emergence of philosophy of democracy
  • 3. Religious freedom
  • 4. Emergence of science and rational government

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
What is Romanticism?
  • 1. Movement that stressed emotion
  • 2. Movement that stressed reason
  • 3. Movement that stressed religion

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Who said the following quote? Simplicity,
simplicity, simplicity!
  • 1. Emerson
  • 2. Thoreau
  • 3. Kant
  • 4. Whitman

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Who was the Father of American Poetry?
  • 1. Bryant
  • 2. Whitman
  • 3. Dickinson
  • 4. Emerson

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
Who was known as the Bridge Poet?
  • 1. Thoreau
  • 2. Emerson
  • 3. Bryant
  • 4. Whitman

Beginning of Quiz
Next Question
Incorrect. Try again!
What type of writing did Romanticism take form in?
  • 1. Short stories, dramas, poetry
  • 2. Essays, dramas, short stories
  • 3. Sermons, short stories, poetry

Beginning of Quiz
End of Quiz
Incorrect. Try again!
Congratulations on completing the quiz!
Now that you have earned the right to call
yourself a Romantic, prepare yourself for our
next literary movement Realism.
End Show