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Romanticism was a movement that encompassed all of the arts during the first half of the 19th century. In many ways, Romanticism was a reaction against the scientific development that occurred during the Enlightenment. Artists, writers, and poets all desired to express more emotion, especially in the characterization of nature within their art. Emotional expression was at the heart of authentic experience during the Romantic era.


Romanticism largely rejected rules, so it becomes difficult to specifically define its beginning and end points. In many ways, Romanticism emerged with the French Revolution (1789), although some earlier examples exist in literature. Certainly Romanticism was in full force by 1800, and can be clearly heard in the music of Ludwig von Beethoven, whose artistic triumph in such pieces as his 5th or 9th Symphonies represent high points of the movement.

In literature, Romanticism first emerged in Germany, represented in the works of Goethe. His works were highly influential in England, where Romanticism was best represented in poetry. William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats and William Blake are all English Romantic Poets. In America, the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Washington Irving and James Fenimore Cooper can be classified as Romantic.

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