The Romantic period, ah, full of kissing and flowers. If that is your interoperation of the romantic period, then you best think again. The Romantic period, which lasted from 1789-1837, was anything but romantic, it is quite the opposite. This means that is was all about romanticizing the lives of the poor and the slaves. Many writers of this time period believed that great spirits were wandering the earth; as in people that are making monumental changes in literature, art and politics.
With all the great writers, comes great pieces of writing. The hot topic was of course, you guessed it, the romance genre, the goal being to achieve wonder by frank violation of natural laws and of the ordinary cause of events and lots of use of the supernatural. Romances were writings that turned in their quest for settings conducive to supernatural happenings to, “strange fits of passion” and “strange adventures” to distant pasts, faraway places or even both. Nature still takes its course throughout this period as well, that is something that we didn’t leave in the restoration period. Writers will always find the time to takea stroll through nature and relate things, such as leeches, to their personal life.
Throughout the course, we studied some works that offer the perfect representation of the genre. William Wordsworth gave us, “Resolution and Independence.” In this poem, we stroll through the countryside in the woods with a man. He begins to feel joyous with the lively and refreshed creatures around him, comparing his happiness to theirs when he suddenly begins to hit a wall and realizes the care-free life he has been living. He stumbles upon a man starring into the mud, who he eventually finds out to be a leech gatherer. With that, he realizes that he doesn’t have it all that bad. He compares not only his life lived to the creatures, but to the leech gatherer himself.
The man thinks that the leech gatherer has everything made out for him, in this poem he is romanticizing the poor life of the leech gatherer. The man in the poem seems to believe that gatherer has endured the many hardships of his life with patience and acceptance, and he looks up to that. In this poem, we get a mix of the few aspects of the romance genre.
http://medhum.med.nyu.edu/view/286 This is a website that does a good job of simply breaking down the poem and whats going on. Also mentioned is the idea of the common man, which Wordsworth was all about. He wanted to write for the common man in the language of the common man for the common man. In this poem, the leech gatherer is the representation of that, and although he seems common at first, the man finds out that he has a lot to learn from him.
Another piece of work that we looked it that is a good representation of the romance genre and the characteristics in it is Olaudan Equino’s, “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudan Equino.” This is a novel that highly romanticized being a slave. This novel takes place during the French Revolution, meaning that many of the whites are complaining about not having rights, yet the slaves are clearly struggling more than me and aren’t even free.
In this story, Olaudan has been able to do want many slaves dream of, he was able to see his life how he wanted it to be, he was able to get out of slavery and not be treated or traded like a piece of land. This is where the romanticization comes in. Not all slaves were able to be as lucky as him, this is just a rare success story, though it could lead many to believe that this was the outcome for most of them. In this rare circumstance, he was able to escape slavery and become a free black man and he was able to decide who he wanted to marry; his own destiny. Of course he went through the rough treatment with the muzzles, the branding, the name changing, like all the others and that can not be forgotten.
“I was sensible of the invisible hand of God, which guided and protected me when in truth I knew it not: still the Lord pursued me although I slighted and disregarded it; this mercy melted me down. When I considered my poor wretched state I wept, seeing what a great debtor I was to sovereign free grace. Now the Ethiopian was willing to be saved by Jesus Christ, the sinner’s only surety, and also to rely on none other person or thing for salvation.” (Equiano). In this quote, he is realizing that he has been blessed by the invisible hand of God, he realizes that he has been gifted with a second chance in life and to live it by his own rules and judgement.
In the end, we are able to see some characteristics such as nature, supernatural happenings, strange adventures and the romanticization of poetry through these two big pieces during the time of the Romantic Period. Of course there are many more that portray many of this characteristics and we took a look at a few in class. Some of them being, “Ode to the West Wind” and “Mont Blanc” by Percy Shelley as well as, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.