American Romanticism Essay Questions

CP English III

Literature Exam – Fall 2012

Answer the following prompt on a separate sheet of paper. YOU MUST ASWER THIS PROMPT! You may use the white space provided on these pages to make notes or sketch an outline of your essay before you begin writing.


This semester we have spent some time studying authors and texts of the Romantic and Dark Romantic periods in American literature. The purpose of this essay is to show me what you know about these two periods in American history and the literature that was created. In a carefully constructed, thoughtful essay of 3-4 paragraphs, please explain the differences between Romanticism and the Dark Romantics. What are the main themes and ideas of Romanticism? What are the main themes and ideas of the Dark Romantics? Then, I would like you to choose a Romantic text (Rip Van Winkle) and give three examples of how Rip Van Winkle embodies the tenets of Romanticism. Last, I would like you to choose a Dark Romantic text (The Masque of the Red Death, Young Goodman Brown, Ethan Brand) and give three examples of how that text embodies the tenets of Dark Romanticism. You paper may abide by the following structure:

Paragraph 1: An explanation of the major themes of Romanticism

Paragraph 2: An explanation of the major themes of the Dark Romantics and how they differ from the American Romantics

Paragraph 3: An analysis of Rip Van Winkle and how it embodies the tenets of American Romanticism

Paragraph 4: An analysis of your chosen Dark Romantic text and how it embodies the tenets of the Dark Romantics

I will grade your essay on the following:



Thoroughness (did you answer all parts of the prompt?)

Detail (did you cite examples from the text to the best of your ability?)

Thought (is it clear from your writing that you learned something from these units?)


In his essay Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is the devil or of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end of man here to ‘glorify God and enjoy him forever’.”

mean: (adj.) inferior in quality, value, or importance

sublime: (adj.) of high spiritual, moral, or intellectual worth; noble

Directions: Please write a carefully constructed essay of about 3 paragraphs in which you explain, in your own words, the major tenets of Transcendentalism, the meaning of the above paragraph, and two clear examples of how the above paragraph relates to the tenets of Transcendentalism. Please quote the text throughout your essay where necessary.

Paragraph 1: An explanation of the major tenets of Transcendentalism

Paragraph 2: Your own interpretation of the passage’s meaning (you MUST provide quotes from the passage above to support your ideas)

Paragraph 3: Provide two examples illustrating how the passage above embodies the tenets of Transcendentalism (again, you MUST provide quotes from the passage to support your ideas)

I will grade your essay on the following:



Thoroughness (did you answer all parts of the prompt?)

Detail (did you cite examples from the text to the best of your ability?)

Thought (is it clear from your writing that you learned something from these units?)

Romanticism Essay Examples

To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art- that is intimacy

Blake and Wordsworth were both Romantic poets yet their views of London are opposed to each other. What are these conflicting visions of the same city and how do they differ from one another? “To say the word Romanticism is to say modern art- that is intimacy, spirituality, colour, aspiration towards the infinite, expressed by… View Article

Variants in the Romantic Movement

Romanticism began shortly after the French Revolution bringing together both libertarian and egalitarian ideas.  The birth of the romantic movement was in Germany but quickly emerged and incorporated itself into the public conscience of France, England, and eventually the United States in 1820.  Romanticism was a revolt against rationalism and classicism.  The basic tenants of… View Article

Romantic Poets And Vincent Van Gogh

Nature is a formidable presence in the work of Romantic poets, who considered it a force for renewal, inspiration, destruction, and transcendence.  William Wordsworth considered nature a vehicle for inspiration.  “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” demonstrates his ability to derive deep thought from nature, and in “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey,”… View Article


The age of man is rife with varying motivations and personal reasoning. Over millions of years, life shifted from mere survival, with our minds drawn to food and shelter, into times of political intrigue and welfare reform. Buried in the layers, the Age of Enlightenment and the (difficult to define) Age of Romanticism are found…. View Article

Enlightement And Romantic Thinkers

Despite sharing some similarities, the Enlightenment and Romantic movements differed sharply in terms of their character and values. While the former movement embraced a balanced, sober mindset oriented toward harmony and productivity, the latter reacted by espousing the dramatic, exotic, unconventional, and uncultivated. The Enlightenment, which dominated the eighteenth century, embraced a logical, rational world… View Article

Ten Paintings of Romanticism

Romanticism has flourished in the years 1800’s to 1900’s. Romanticism in the arts particularly in the visual arts is characterized by a revolt against rationalism and classicism movement. The usual approach of the artist in their artwork is about imagination and subjectivity. Intense emotion and elusiveness is attributed to romanticism. Also, paintings in the romantic… View Article

Analyzing Theodore Roethke

Drawing together separate but sympathetic poetic traditions from the Elizabethan Romantics as well as American transcendentalists, Theodore Roethke is concerned by many critics to be an exemplary poet in the Romantic tradition, one who retained a self-identity while treading perilously close to the role of a poetic imitator. In some ways it is Roethke’s uncanny… View Article

An Interpretation of John Keats’ To Autumn

Introduction Poems by John Keats are a source of inspiration. He plays with his readers and takes them to places and times with his words. What inspiration does Keats bring? He inspire his readers to go beyond his words and discover a new world he creates. He makes his words so colorful and alive it… View Article


Professor Ann Woodlief describes American Romanticism by saying, it “developed its own character, especially as these writers tried self-consciously to be new and original. ” In this statement, Woodlief argues that the American romantic authors strove to distinguish some differences between American and British Romanticism. The two forms of writing were already very similar, so… View Article

Romanticism, Its Influence on French Revolution

Romanticism evolved in response to the French Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment that followed. Rather than focus on reason and rationality to explain man, romanticism focused more on emotions and feelings to explain nature and portray them. Inspired by the ideas of Jean Jacques Rousseau romanticism emerged as a reaction to 18th-century values, asserting… View Article

Poetry Appreciation

In this essay I am going to compare and contrast ‘When we two parted’ a poem of George Gordon, Lord Byron’s written in 1815 and Letitia Elizabeth Landon’s ‘Love’s last lesson’ written in c1838, both poets are British and of the romantic period. ‘When we two parted’ is an elegy of the loss of love,… View Article

Romantic Poetry Characteristics

Romantic poetry gives more importance to passionate display of emotions. The study of the romantic poetry characteristics, throws light on the different features being incorporated. Have a look… Romanticism in poetry arose in response to the enlightenment ideals that prevailed in the 18th century. This form of poetry emphasizes on emotions rather than reason. William… View Article

Short history of literature

The purpose of this course is to encourage you to gain an insight into, and broad awareness of, the development of English literature from its perceived origins in the ninth century until the end of the nineteenth century. Attention will be paid not only to influential writers and movements, but to themes such as the… View Article

Rip Van Winkle

Freedom brings happiness. This is a major message shown in the story Rip Van Winkle. Rip Van Winkle is about a man who slept through the American Revolution for twenty years. During those twenty years he slept, his village and the whole country underwent a major change that affected the future of America. Written during… View Article

Causes and Effects of the Romantic Period

Romanticism has very little to do with things popularly thought of as “romantic,” although love may occasionally be the subject of romantic art. Rather, it is an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world (Melani). In the early seventeenth and eighteenth centuries… View Article

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