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提供者:英文系 蘇文伶與墨樵、 Wen-ling Su & Joseph Murphy

Romanticism(ca. 1780-1880)


I.  The Romantic View of Nature 

A.  Birth of European Romanticism  

a.   Precursors

b.   Early 19th-Century Thought: Schopenhauer, Hegel, Darwin

B.  English Romanticism

C.  American Romanticism  

D.  Romantic landscape painting  

      a.   English: Constable, Turner 

b.   German:  Friedrich

c.    American

II.  The Romantic Hero

            A.  Nationalism  

        B.  The Romantic Hero 

       a.  Prometheus: Mary Shelley, Byron

       b.  Goethe’s Faust

III.  The Romantic Style in Art

         Heroic themes in painting: Gros, Goya, Géricault, Delacroix


I. The Romantic View of Nature

Key Concepts

A.     Nature

B.     Emotion: sentimentality // nostalgia // melancholy

C.      Imagination: exotic // ecstatic // fantastic // gothic

D.     the sublime

E.      Subjectivity

F.      Spontaneity

G.     Mysticism


A. Birth of European Romanticism


A.     Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

1.     “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.”

2.      “Take the course opposite to custom and you will almost always do well.”

3.     “I may not be better than other people, but at least I''m different.”

4.     "The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless."


B.     Sturm und Drang

1.     1760s-1780s

2.     Originally it’s the title of a 1776 play about the American Revolution.

3.     Translations: “storm and stress”, “storm and urge”, “passion and energy”, “energy and rebellion”

4.      Anti-enlightenment:

a.      Storm—the sublime

b.     Stress/urge—emotions



The Sorrows of Young Werther
by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe




The Sublime



A.  Edmund Burke, Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Beautiful and the Sublime (1757).


B.  “Burke divided all aesthetic responses into two categories, the beautiful and the sublime. The beautiful includes all that is smooth, regular, delicate, and harmonious; the sublime, all that is rough, gloomy, violent, and gigantic.”


C.  “Sublimity among objects of nature includes all that is untamed and uncivilized, such as the wilder parts of the countryside, mountains, cataracts, volcanoes, and scenes that are savage and primitive as opposed to ‘cultivated.’”





 Early 19th Century Thought

German Idealism:

“Idealists held that the world is not something objective that exists independently of individual   consciousness. Rather it is human consciousness, the knowing subject, that builds the world and determines its form”

(Perry 373).


G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831)


A.     “The mind can comprehend the truths underlying all existence and can grasp the essential meaning of human existence”

(Perry 375).     

B.     Geist = Spirit = Mind

C.      “Hegel believes that world history reveals a rational process . . . . There is a purpose and an end to history: the unfolding of Absolute Spirit.”

D.     “Spirit manifests itself in history through dialectic: thesis –anthithesis—synthesis.”

                            (Perry 375-7)




Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

A.      In complete contrast to Hegel’s ‘spirit,’ Schopenhauer’s will is irrational, blind and meaningless, deficiency.

B.       Schopenhauer begins and ends with man, whose involvement with the world is marked by suffering.





Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Theory of Natural Selection

A.     Works:

1.      Origin of Species (1859)

2.      The Descent of Man (1871)

B.     Survival of the fittest: Competition leads to adaptation and if adaptation is successful, to survival.

C.      The governing principles of the world are not order and harmony but constant and undirected struggle.

D.     Chance, not a divine plan, ruled the universe.

E.      Good and bad were defined only in terms of an ability to survive.

                                                              (Lerner, Meacham, and Burns 906)

Influence: Social Darwinism

A. The term appeared ca. 1879.

B. Definition: “natural selection operated to determine the superiority of some individuals, groups, races, and nations over others” (Fiero 212).

1.     Class: laissez faire capitalism

2.   Nation: nationalism, imperialism

Race: racial superiority

(Lerner, Meacham, and Burns 907)

B. English Romanticism

A.     Two Generations

First Generation

1.     Blake

2.     Wordsworth

3.     Coleridge


Second Generation

1.     Shelly

2.     Keats

3.     Byron


B.     Pantheism

“the belief that a divine spirit pervades all things in the universe” (Fiero 234)


William Wordsworth (1770 1850)





•For Wordsworth, poetry is “‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings,’ which takes its origin ‘from emotion recollected in tranquility’” (qtd. in Fiero 213).

•In “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,” Wordsworth describes nature as

        The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,

        The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul

        Of all my moral being. 

 (ll 109-111)

Tintern Abbey



Percy Besshe Shelly (1792-1882)




A.     Poets: “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

B.     Nature: the fountainhead of inspiration

C.      The West Wind: a symbol of creativity

(Fiero 217)


Ode to the West Wind

A.     The poem was composed in a wood near Florence, “on a day when the wind is rising and collecting the vapors that pour down the autumnal rains. The poet at sunset observes the turning of the year, the passage into fall. As the night comes on, a violent tempest of hail and rain descends”  (Bloom 297).

B.      “In this autumnal advent the poet reads the signs of a creative destruction” (Bloom 297).

C.      Structure

1.     5 terza-rima sonnets: aba bcb cdc dd

2.     The first 3 stanzas: the effect of autumn on the land, the sky, and the sea.

3.     The 4th stanza: the poet’s situation vs. natural elements

4.     The 5th stanza: a prayer or request to the West Wind, as mover of the seasonal cycle, to assist the poet’s aims by spreading his message and, thereby, helping him to contribute to a moral or political revolution paralleling the seasonal change.

(Reiman and Powers, 221)


John Keats (1795-1821)




For Keats, “Art is more than a response to the human experience of love and nature; it is the transmuted product of the imagination, a higher form of nature that triumphantly outreaches the mortal lifespan” (Fiero 217).




Ode to the Grecian Urn

A.     John Keats''s sketch of the Sosibios Vase

B.     Structure:

1.     Stanzas 1-3: a scene of “wild ecstasy”

2.     Stanza 4: a religious sacrifice

3.     Stanza 5: the theme that “Beauty is truth, truth beauty”





C. American Romanticism

A.  Transcendentalism

1.  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

2.  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

3.  Walt Whitman (1818-1892)

B.  New England Transcendentalism

1.  Time: 1830-1860, three decades before the Civil War

2.  People: Emerson and his associates

3. Affirmed

a. Validity of a mode of knowledge grounded in feeling and intuition

b. An ethics of individualism that stressed self-trust, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency

c.  A turn away from modern society to the scenes and objects of the natural world

d.  A faith in a divine “Principle,” or “Spirit,” or “Soul” (Emerson’s “Over-Soul”) in which both humanity and the cosmos participate.

(Abrams 326-7)



Emerson’s pantheistic credo:  

   “In the woods is perpetual youth. Within these plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign . . . . In the woods, we return to reason and faith” (from “Nature”; qtd. in Fiero 225).


David Henry Thoreau (1817-1862)

and Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854)

(left) http://positiveblatherings.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/henry-david-thoreau-close.jpg

(middle) http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51qj3hvv95L.jpg

(right) http://www.trackerkeepers.com/wpcontent/uploads/2010/02/thoreau.gif

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)


I celebrate myself, and sing myself

And what I assume you shall assume

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you

I loaf and invite my soul,

I learn and loaf at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. 

                     (Song of Myself 1. ll 1-5)


I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love,

If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.  

                        (Song of Myself 52. ll 9-10)

  D. Romantic Landscape Painting

John Constable (1776-1837)

John Constable, “The Hay –Wain.” 1821.
Web. 28 July 2011.


John Constable, “Wivenhoe Park, Essex.” 1816. NGA. Web. 28 July 2011. http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/2006/constable/fullscreen/121-022.shtm



•“For the most part, Constable''s paintings depict scenes of everyday life in the Stour valley area of the English countryside where he lived most of his life. Constable''s records of this country have often been considered the visual counterpart of Wordsworth''s poetry.”


•“Constable''s art evokes a benevolent, natural universe where man, animal, and landscape are joined in the most element harmony. “




J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851)

J. M. W. Turner. “The Slave Ship.” 1840.
Web. 28 July 2011. http://history.hanover.edu/courses/art/turnss.html


J.M.W. Turner. “Snow Storm.” 1842. J-M-W-Turner.
Web. 28 July 2011.


J.M.W. Turner, "Rain, Steam, and Speed“, 1844.
Web. 28 July 2011.


A.  the painter of light

B.  Romantic Visionary

C.  “In Turner''s paintings light does not heighten reality but rather diminishes it. Light dissolves the solid form and renders it mysterious and remote. As a result, nature is transformed and made mysterious.“

D.  “He takes the trend towards looking at the sublime aspects of landscape and turns it into a universal metaphor of man vs. destiny. Nature is presented as an elusive and intangible force, a bodiless energy that will ultimately conquer and destroy.”






Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)


(left) Caspar David Friedrich, “Wanderer above the Mists.” c. 1818. Oneonta. Web.28 July 2011.

(right) Caspar David Friedrich, “Two Men Contemplating the Moon.” 1825-1830. Wikipedia. Web. 28 July 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Caspar_David_Friedrich_Two_men_contemplating_the_Moon.jpg


American Romanticist Painting

Thomas Cole (1801-1848)

A.     The Hudson River School (1830s-1840s)

B.     “Thomas Cole was the leader of the Hudson River School, named after the Hudson River region of New York State, which we recognize as creating the first American style of painting. Cole found nature awe inspiring: he interpreted it as reflecting the hand of God and was therefore reverential toward the wilderness.”


Thomas Cole, "The Oxbow," 1836. Evansville. Web. 28 July 2011. http://faculty.evansville.edu/rl29/art105/img/cole_oxbow.jpg



“Cole relies heavily on European conventions of landscape painting to convey the visual representation of the struggle between wilderness and civilization.”


•“The dramatic storm clouds over the wilderness speak of the uncontrolled power of nature, but also of the sublimity of this power.”


•“The soft greens and yellows and the gentle rolling landscape of the farms suggest that the pastoral civilization that replaces the wilderness is as beautiful in its order as nature is in its sublimity.”                         



Thomas Cole, Romantic Landscape, 1826.Ncmoa. Web. 28 July 2011. http://www.ncmoa.org/artnc/object.php?themeid=3&objectid=29

Thomas Cole, “Landscape Scene from the Last of the Mohicans.” 1827.
SmartnMore. Web.
28 July 2011.



Look closely at the upper left corner, above the mountain peak. “You may be able to see faintly painted rays of light that give the scene a spiritual feeling.”


“The people . . . are American Indians, the first inhabitants of the New York and New England wilderness . . . . Their presence confirms this is an America landscape, not European.”





Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902)

Bierstadt, “The Rocky Mountains, Landers Peak.” 1863.
Artunframed. Web.
28 July 2011. http://www.artunframed.com/images/artistsusaa/bierstadt1.gif


Albert Bierstadt, “Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite.” 1871-73.
Ncmoa. Web.
28 July 2011.


A.  the Western frontier as an American Garden of Eden


B.  On Albert Bierstadt, Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite, 1871-73

“Bierstadt’s vast panoramas of the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, their skies often turbulent and shot through with sunlight, introduced Americans to a majestic wilderness, awesome but unthreatening, and well worth possessing.”


C.  “His many paintings of Yosemite are indeed biblical in grandeur, imbued with the sense that divinity dwelled within the wilderness.”




Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1901)

Church, Heart of the Andes, 1859.  Artchive. Web. 28 July 2011.



A. invested his vistas with a heroic and quasi-religious spirit


B. “In the 1850s . . . Church traveled to South America and made sketches that were the basis of a great Andean panorama. Church painted nature with uncanny fidelity and an abiding sense of awe. His landscapes embodied America''s belief that the opening of frontiers and territorial expansion were the nation''s destiny.”






II. The Romantic Hero

“While Enlightenment writers studied the social animal, the romantics explored the depths of their own souls.”

                     (Fiero 5th ed.700)

“. . . whereas the literary hero defended the traditions and moral values of a society, the Romantic hero might challenge or seek to reform them”

(Fiero, 6th ed., 237).

A. Nationalism

Definition: “an ideology (or belief system) grounded in a people’s sense of cultural and political unity”  

(Fiero 237)

Nationalism ←→ Liberalism

After the French Revolution (1789), and thereafter, in resistance to the imperialistic expansion of Napoleonic France:


                  = love of liberty

                  = ideals of self-determination

Nationalism ←→ Conservativism

A.      An appreciation/veneration of the past

B.      Demanding the sacrifice of individual’s freedom for the common good

National Identity

Nation = narration

               = an imagined community

               = a system of cultural signification 

(Homi Bhabha, Nation and Narration)

Nation = a system of cultural signification

1.     Creation of national institutions

  1. Participation of national rituals (holidays, festivals)
  2. Identifying with a national community
  3. National imagery: heroes

Nationalism vs. Romanticism

A.     Romantic writers insisted on the uniqueness of cultures by idealizing history and community.

B.     Germany:

1.     the Volk (the common people)

2.     Volksgeist (the spirit of the people)

Extreme Nationalism

A.     German racial nationalists

B.     “Like their Nazi successors, Volkish thinkers claimed that the German race was purer than, and therefore superior to, all other races”

 (Perry 453).

B. The Romantic Hero

1.     Gifted with intellect and imagination, the hero is at odds with the ‘common herd’ of mankind.”

2.     The hero’s desires are insatiable; his is a will not satisfied with ordinary things.”

3.      “The Promethean hero:  an over-reacher who unsettles traditional moral categories.”



Types of the Promethean Hero

1.     The Faustian hero:  Goethe’s Faust; Victor Frankenstein

2.     The Byronic hero:  “aristocratic, darkly handsome, manly, brooding, brilliant, erotic, melancholy, indomitable.”

3.      The Gothic villain-hero



Goethe’s Faust


If ever I say to the passing moment

“Linger for a while! Thou art so fair!”

Then you may cast me into fetters,

I will gladly perish then and there!

Then you may set the death-bell tolling,

Then from my service you are free,

The clock may stop, its hand may fall,

And that be the end of time for me!

(Faust, ll. 462-470; Fiero 252)

Mary Shelley

Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus

“I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself, or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man” (from Frankenstein,  Fiero 241).

“No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to be ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs” (from Frankenstein,  Fiero 241).


The Byronic Hero

George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)

A.     Works:

1.     Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage  (1813-1814)

2.     Manfred (1816-1817)

3.     Don Juan (1819-1824)

B.     the Byronic hero:

1.     A rebel

2.     Isolated from society

3.     Moody by nature or passionate about a particular issue

4.     Arrogant, confident, abnormally sensitive and extremely conscious of   himself

5.     Rejects the values and moral codes of society

6.     Characterized by a guilty memory of some unknown sexual sin

7.      A figure of repulsion as well as fascination


III. The Romantic Style in Art

Major Themes

A.     Individualism

B.     Patriotism

C.      Nationalism

Heroic Themes in Painting

Antoine-Jean Gros (1775-1835)

Antoine-Jean Gros, “Napleon Bonaparte on Arcole Bridge .” 1797.
Ibiblio. Web
28 July 2011. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/gros/

Antoine-Jean Gros, “Napoleon Bonaparte Visiting the Plague-stricken at Jaffa.” 1799. A1Reproductions. Web. 28 July 2011. http://a1reproductions.com/napoleon-bonaparte-visiting-the-plague-stricken-at-jaffa-1799-by-antoine-jean-gros-oil-painting.html


Antoine-Jean Gros, “Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau.” 1808.
28 July 2011. http://www.artclon.com/artist/antoine+jean-gros/

Francisco Goya  (1746-1828)

Francisco Goya. “The Third of May.”1808. Gvsu. Web. 28 July 2011. http://www4.gvsu.edu/pozzig/european_civ2/images/goya.jpg


Francisco Goya, “Colossus.”1808-1812. Ibiblio. Web. 28 July 2011. http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/goya/goya.colossus.jpg


Francisco Goya, “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.” 1796-1797.
Artlex. Web.
28 July 2011. http://www.artlex.com/ArtLex/e/images/etching_goya.sleepr.lg.jpg


Francisco Goya, “Saturn Devouring one of his Sons.” 1819.
Artlex. Web.
28 July 2011.


Théodore Géricault (1791-1824)

Théodore Géricault, “An Officer of the Chasseurs Commanding a Charge,” 1812.
WGA. Web.
28 July 2011.” http://www.wga.hu/art/g/gericaul/1/101geric.jpg



Théodore Géricault, “The Raft of the Medusa.” 1819. UWC. Web. 28 July 2011. http://rock.uwc.edu/facultypages/pkudrna/New%20Folder%20(2)/nff0055.jpg

The Raft of the Medusa marks the first appearance in painting of ''the ugly'' and thereby proclaims its scrupulous respect for the truth, however repulsive the truth might be. This concern for truth is integral to the Romantic temperament.”

“Géricault chose a dramatic episode — the wreck of the frigate Meduse, which had set off with a French fleet on an expedition to Senegal, and had been lost in July 1816.”

“The most horrifying part of the shipwreck had been the drama of 149 wretches abandoned on a raft with only some casks of wine to live on, and the ensuing drunkenness and abominations. When the frigate Argus found the raft, after many days, she was only able to rescue fifteen survivors, of whom five died after being brought ashore.”



Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)

Eugène Delacroix, “Liberty Leading the People.” 1830. Griseldaonline. Web. 28 July 2011. http://www.griseldaonline.it/percorsi/5allegro_foto10.htm


Eugène Delacroix,  “The Death of Sardanapalus.” 1827. Egloos. Web. 28 July 2011. http://pds.egloos.com/pds/1/200411/30/95/b0043795_4534354.jpg


“In the Death of Sardanapalus . . . Delacroix painted an apotheosis of cruelty. The composition, all reds and golds, portrays the holocaust of the legendary Assyrian king, destroying his possessions before committing suicide. The insurgents are attacking his castle; all is lost . . . Sardanapalus orders eunuchs and palace officers to cut the throats of his women, his pages, and even his favourite dogs and horses; none of the objects that have served his pleasure are to survive him. His women are placed on a level with his horses and dogs.”


Works Cited

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms. 7th ed. Fort Worth, Harcourt Brace, 1999.

Bhabha, Homi, ed. Nation and Narration. London: Routledge, 1990.

Bloom, Harold. The Visionary Company. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1971.

Fiero, Gloria. The Humanistic Tradition. Vol. 2. 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2011.

Lerner, Robert E., Standish Meacham, and Edward McNall Burns. Western Civilizations. 13th ed. New York: Norton, 1998.

Perry, Marvin. Western Civilization: A Brief History. 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2001.

Reiman, Donald H. and Sharon B. Powers. Shelley’s Poetry and Prose. New York: W. W. Norton,  1977.  

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