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The Romantic Movement began as a response to the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. It, like every other pervasive cultural movement, had its own way of explaining the way the world works. In order to understand the roots of the Romantic period it is necessary to go back to the writings of Jean Jacques Rousseau, who disagreed with the Enlightenment’s emphasis on civilization as the solution to all society’s problems. Instead, Mr. Rousseau believed nature contains a ‘betterment’ element that benefits every member of society. Nature is preferable to the ills and evils of civilization. This gave rise to Mr. Rousseau’s idea of the Noble Savage, a romanticized version of prelapsarian man. A man who lives outside the burdens of society, Mr. Rousseau believed, will prosper and flourish more fully than those living under the burdens placed upon them by civilized living.

The essential spirit of the Romantic Movement was one of revolt against established laws, traditions, dogmas, and formulas. It praised creativity over reason, emotions over logic, nature over society, and intuition over science. This idealistic focus cleared the way for a vast body of literature of great sensibility and passion. In their choice of heroes, the Romantic writers replaced the protagonists of classical, eighteenth-century literature with a more complex being: the Romantic hero. This hero is portrayed as a master of his own fate: a man who storms the heavens and lives to tell the tale. This exceptional figure wanders, unburdened by society, making his own path through the world. The Romantic writer focused on his character’s passions and inner struggles, emphasizing the examination of human personality, its moods, and mental possibilities.

Though Romanticism rejects traditional religion, it turns to nature as a type of religion in itself—to shape, guide, and inspire the Romantic…...

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