World Literature II
April 3, 2011
Illusions of distrust
Romanticism evolved from the end of the French Revolution, bringing a whole new concept to the artists of the time. The ideals of individualism were now becoming a very predominant concept in the writings of the eighteenth century. As Emma Goldman says, “The individual is the true reality of life. A cosmos in himself, he does not exist for the state, nor for that abstraction called “society” or the “nation,” which is only a collection of individuals.” Goldman’s ideals ideas on individualism and its role in society came from the evolving concepts first represented in the Romanticism era. All over the world people began to realize and express this theme in all aspects of their cultures. Documents such as Thomas Jefferson’s “The Declaration of Independence,” which has the underlying Romantic theme of independence in the beginning creation of United States of America.
What is Romanticism? Is it the art that sprang up in the late seventeen or eighteen century? Or maybe the political rebellion of the individual vs. the government? Is it about love and compassion? How about the emotion of love against all odds of reason? The answer to these questions is yes; all of these are but a few aspects of the wonderful era of Romanticism. Romantics emphasized the importance of imagination, claiming the individual imagination as a vital power of our lives. However, the illusions our emotions create over the logical rational answers is one of the strongest most predominant recurring elements of the Romanticism writings. Romantics understood that awareness is gained through perception rather than reasoning. This is best summed up by William Wordsworth who stated that “all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings” (Wordsworth Preface 19). Romanticism is a representation of our true selves as individuals and the choices we make. The theme of emotion over reason is strong.