Romantic Literature

Early American Literature
Romantic Literature
Outcomes of the lesson
 Timeline overview of American Literary Movements
 Early American Literature overview and timeline
 Emphasis on Romantic Era, beginning with the
historic context.
 Writing style, major themes, methods of
interpretation and author’s intent of Romantic works
 Notable writers of the Romantic era and their works
Prior Knowledge Inquiry
 As a reactionary movement to
the Age of Reason, infer which
concepts and characteristics the
Romantic era of literature
might emphasize over reason
and logic. Explain.
 Why do you think society may
have desired this genre and
style of literature and art in the
early 19th century? Explain.
Romantic Literature
(1800 – c. 1860)
Evaluation Inquiry
“America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant
motion and every movement seems an improvement. The idea of
novelty is there indissolubly connected with the idea of amelioration.
No natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and what is
not yet done is only what he has not yet attempted to do.”
~ Alexis de Tocqueville
This quote from Tocqueville’s Democracy in America (1835-1840)
captures the American spirit of wonder and discovery inspiring
movement westward. Judging from this quote, infer the major themes
pronounced during the Romantic literary era.
Literary Movements
Age of
Puritan Era
and PostModernism
1600 - 1750 1750 - 1800 1800 - 1840 1840 - 1855 1865 1915
1916 - 1946
1946 Present
Early American Literature
Puritan Era
Age of Reason/
Romantic Literature Timeline
Edgar Allen Poe, The
House of Usher (18091849)
Scarlet Letter
James Fenimore
Cooper, The Last of
the Mohicans (17891851)
Washington Irving,
The Legend of Sleepy
Hallow (1783-1859)
Moby Dick
Walt Whitman,
Leaves of Grass
Henry Wadsworth
Longfellow, Song of
Hiawatha (1807-1882)
American Romantic Literature Era 1800-1860
American Renaissance
Dark Romantics
Historic Context of the
Romantic Literary Era
The War of 1812
Indian Removal Act of 1830,
The Trail of Tears
Broad themes of the Romantic Era
Romantic Era Themes
 Imagination
 Individuality
 Nature as a source of inspiration
 Invoking the past for wisdom
 Seeing the common man as a hero
Romantic Era
Washington Irving
Born in New York to English immigrants,
Washington Irvine was one of the first
American authors to gain the respect of
the English and European audience with
his two literary classics, Rip Van Winkle
and The Legend of Sleepy Hallow which both
manifest a sense of individualism and
escapism mastered within Romantic work.
Irving Biography:
Washington Irving, 1783-1859
Washington Irving’s Work
 The Legend of Sleepy Hallow:
 Rip Van Winkle:
 The Devil and Tom Walker:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Born in Portland, Maine Longfellow
matured to be a poet and professor of
literature at Harvard University. In
addition to his famous poem, Song of
Hiawatha and, which demonstrated
sympathy, respect love for the Native
American way of life, Longfellow also
wrote of historic figures, personal
experiences of loss, academic texts (text
books) and worked on classical
translations, such as Dante Alighieri’s
Divine Comedy.
H. W. Longfellow 1807-1882
Longfellow’s poem analysis:
James Fenimore Cooper
Born in Burlington, New Jersey, Cooper was a student
at Yale (he was expelled), and a sailor on a merchant
ship, before he settled down into his family life and
writing career. He is credited with creating the first
American adventure novel, in his work, The Last of the
Mohicans (1826) which acknowledged the initial
possession and dispossession of the American Indian’s
resources and livelihood by the invading European
arrivals. He also wrote sea-tales, war romances, and
social works criticizing American values and morality.
Last of the Mohicans analysis:
J. F. Cooper, 1789-1851
The Dark Romantics
American Gothic
Negating the reach for perfection
attended to by the Transcendalists, the
Dark Romantics (a subgenre of the
Romantics) emphasized human frailty
and fallibility, by focusing on the
predisposed nature of the human mind
toward mental illness, disillusionment,
or delusion which was often known as
sin, and materialized in literature
through haunting figures and symbols.
The imaginary world of the Dark
Romantics was realized through stories
and poetry of self-examination within
the fog of the sea, and often closed
with self-destruction.
Dark Romantic Literature
 Writers and their works:
 Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter
 Edgar Allen Poe, The Fall of the House of Usher,
The Black Cat, Tell Tale Heart
 Herman Melville, Moby Dick
Hester Prynne and Pearl
before the stocks (1878), by
A.V.S. Anthony
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Born in Salem, Massachusetts to a family with
deep New England Puritan roots, Hawthorne’s
personal history was bound to seek perfection
and feel shame all at once. His great
grandfather officiated the Salem Witch Trials,
providing Hawthorne with a unique ethos into
which to many of his works were inspired,
particularly The Scarlet Letter and The House of
Seven Gables. After attending college at Bowdoin
in Maine, Hawthorne pursued his career as a
writer in a Transcendental community of artists
and there he married painter Sophia Peabody,
with whom he had three children. His works
twisted upon the Christian virtues driven to
error through arrogance, egoism and elitism.
This unquestioned righteousness led to a
blindness, lost of virtue and humility.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne’s Work
 Hawthorne’s pristine marks among the Dark Romantics
include the subgenre’s classic investigation of the mind –
the personal psycho-analysis – in its most pure frailty, flaw
and fallenness. In his creative examination of man’s
relationship to the natural world he falls into unknown and
disturbed waters.
In the depths of every heart there is a tomb and a dungeon, though
the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their
existence, and the buried ones, or prisoners whom they hide. But
sometimes, and oftenest at midnight, these dark receptacles are flung
wide open. In an hour like his....pray that your griefs may slumber. “
~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Haunted Mind
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Biography:
The Scarlet Letter Analysis:
Edgar Allen Poe
Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Poe is the
most renowned writer of the American Dark
Romantics, both beloved and mourned for
his contributions to psychological drama,
horror, science fiction and poetry. Poe’s
imagination was nocturnal and delicately
wrought with tension. His perfected poetry
holds the frailty of love and imagination as a
gentle, cold and passing wind before a
deathly storm. It is tense from the loss of
balance, yet permanent and stone solid in the
certainty of its end.
Edgar Allen Poe
Edgar Allen Poe
 Both parents died before he
was three years old.
 Struggled with relationships
during adult life (his first
wife died very young)
 He died alone and unhappy
 His grave was unmarked for
26 years (Baltimore, MD)
 Poe’s writing placed
emphasis on “the priority of
music and sound” over sense.
With me, poetry has not been
a purpose, but a passion.
~Edgar Allen Poe
Poe’s Work:
The Tell Tale Heart
The Black Cat
The Fall of the House
of Usher
The Raven
Annabel Lee
The Black Cat and Tell Tale Heart
• Both stories involve men talking about why
they have committed murder
• “A Poe Character is never more insane than
at the moment he begins to reason with us.”
~ Larzer Ziff, American Literary Critic.
Edgar Allen Poe
 Edgar Allen Poe’s Biography:
 Poe’s The Cask of Amontillado Analysis:
 Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher Analysis:
 Poe’s The Raven Analysis:
Herman Melville
Melville was born into an wealthy
family of merchants in New York City.
After receiving his college education,
Melville worked on his uncle’s farm,
and then as a cabin boy on a ships to
Liverpool, England. This led to a job
as a whaler. These experiences
provided him with the content of his
future novels, many of which were
sea-faring adventures and life in
foreign lands. He married Elizabeth
Shaw in 1847, settled into family life,
and began his career as a writer.
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Melville’s Moby Dick
Melville reached his peak as a writer with
Moby Dick which demonstrated his keen
perception of human nature. His writing was
steeped in metaphor, allegory and satire.
Herman Melville
 Herman Melville’s Biography:
 Melville’s Moby Dick Analysis:

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