American Romanticism

Gary Arpin’s American Romanticism describes how certain American writers, who called themselves Romantics and Transcendentalists, sought to create their own cultural identity. While Romanticism is the identity given to the schools of thought that value feeling and intuition over reason, Transcendentalism was the philosophy that refers to the idea that in establishing the absolute reality of God, the universe, and the self, one must transcend or go beyond everyday human experience in the physical world. Romanticism was partially a reaction towards rationalism. Reason and logic were not as important as imagination and individual feelings to the Romantics. They, therefore regarded poetry as the most sophisticated way to communicate their imagination.   In order for the them to go above what Edgar Allan Poe described as “dull realities” and proceed to a place of higher truth, the Romantics started by looking for a surreal atmosphere to escape the industrial present.   Focusing on the natural world, the Romantics also found intellectual and emotional meaning.   On the other hand, Transcendentalists considered true reality as spiritual and believed that everything in the human world is a reflection of the Divine Soul.   Rapgh Waldo Emerson was the most influential and best-known member of this group, and through his writings Emerson tried to declare to his readers and listeners that if you seek the God within you, then your life “will partake of the grandeur of the universe.”   Lastly, a third group of Romantic writers known as the Dark Romantics searched the conflict between good and evil as well as the effects of guilt and sins and the destructive masks of social respectability which formed from different aspects of Puritan thought.