In the nineteenth century, the foundation of American literature had a profound change. This was called from Reason to Romance or Romanticism. With many contributions of famous writers such as Irving, Cooper, Bryant, and Poe composed the stories and poems which all of them had a great value in the American literature. What is the Romanticism and how dies it effect to the American literature? By taking some compositions from these writers, there will be good answers for those questions.
According to some information in English books, the critics said the name Romantic can be misleading because the Romantics do not necessarily write about the love. The Romanticism can be viewed as an artistic movement, or state of mind, or both. This movement seemed to be reaction against the dominant attitudes and approaches of the eighteenth century. Unlike the eighteenth century, writers who interest in reaction, logic, and scientific observation, the Romantics stressed the examination of inner feelings, emotions and the use of imagination. This seemed to be the first element in Romanticism. It appeals to emotion rather than reason. Also, the Romanticism explores the mysteries of nature and supernatural. It reflects interesting in nature because the Romantics describe their story and poem about America wilderness or countryside or they depicted nature. This element that the reader can recognize clearly in the compositions of these writers above. The third element that the Romantics interest in unusual or ordinary. Furthermore, Romantics had a strong belief in democracy, a deep awareness in the past. Some writers explore the mysteries of nature, the inner self and the relationship between the nature and human imagination. Also it delved into a history of young nation or tradition of the United States.This element will explain the spirit of Nationalism. Using these elements discussed above, this essay will parallel with two representative compositions of Washington Irving, “The Devil and Tom Walker,” and The Raven poem of Edgar Allan Poe, these will be proved clearly for this thesis.
First, the representative Romantic who become the first writer American literature to achieve international reputation, as Washington Irving. He was born in a wealthy New York family. He spent much time traveling in European and reading almost European literature, he wrote the folk tale as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Devil and Tom Walker. In “The Devil and Tom Walker” Irving created this famous folktale by reshaping a German folktale that implicates the stereotype of a person who selling his soul to devil. Irving makes the tale distinctly American by setting it in New England during late 1720’s- a time that the Puritanism, especially the belief that a person life should be devoted to God, was being replaced by commercialism and the desire for personal gain. The Devil tells him about a great treasure of Kidd the pirate.Tom tells to his wife, and she tries to get the treasure by she dies because of her greed. Tom gets the treasure by selling his soul to the devil but in the end, the devil comes for his soul and takes him away. The story relates to the nature because Irving put the scenes of the swamp. He describes the swamp like a horrible and mystery place. The story also describes the feelings of each character dramatically. Especially, the feeling of greed that states clearly in main character Tom Walker. When he knows his wife doesn’t return, he just worries about the value that his wife brought with her. The story shows an interest in the unusual such as Irving describes the death of Tom’s wife. Her hair, lung and her apron were hung on the tree. This folk tale story is also an important lesson that teaches people-don’t be greedy.
Therefore, Irving succeeded in creating folktale story that is Romantic. How about the poems? Talking about the poems, the reader can recognize the poems of Edgar Allan Poe are romantic. He was born in 1809 and during his life; he lived in deep of sorrow and disappointment. “The Raven” is one of his poems that decides his soul clearly, and explains why he thought the significant of his life, has died. He tried to read the book to forget the sadness, and thought that she was still here. The mysterious bird he calls the Raven wakes his mind up and he realizes that his wife is truly gone. Analyzing Poe’s poem, the reader will see how he put all elements of Romanticism in the poem The Raven. The first thing that it relates to the nature. He describes the scene of the poem, which was in the break of December. The darkness and quiet are around his house with the cold of winter. The Raven, a black bird came suddenly with the mystery. The other element that can be in his poem is unusual of the raven. The Raven used to talk and repeat just one word “Nevermore,” but because of that word, it helped Poe recognizes the death of his special wife. Poe describes his soul through the poem with the deep of sorrow and sadness. This can be proved for the first element of Romanticism that appealed to emotion rather than reason.
Generally, with two examples above that proves and explains Romanticism. Also with the composition of those writers who helped to American literary heritage, this change can explain the differences between the writer of the eighteenth century and the writer of nineteenth century. In my opinion, Romantic stories or poems help people realize their feelings and face the problems in daily life. Good stories teach lessons help people to become better.