Does Song of Myself reflect the Romantic or Realistic worldview?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The very nature of the title as one where there is internal reflection and an emphasis on the subjective makes Whitman's work decidedly Romantic.  The notion of "myself" being so important a focal point on the narrative offered is one where Romanticism is evident.  Like so many others in the Romantic movement, Whitman was concerned that the exploration of self can provide universal meaning.  He believed that the subjective can be part of the objective experiences.  In understanding the self, one can gain insight into larger configurations.  This is a Romantic idea and something that Whitman believed as he felt that the idea of the work is to bring out the idea of how individual identity is an inevitable part of American democracy and the sensibilities in the individual are actually linked to a larger social and political fabric.  For Whitman, the recognition of this idea comes from a subjective point of reference and in this, there is much in way of Romantic leanings.  In presenting his work in this manner, Whitman is unabashedly Romantic, hoping to insert his work into the American Romanticism movement of Transcendentalism.


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