What is the significance of imagination to the Romantics? Why is imagination important to the Romantics?

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mwestwood's profile pic

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The soul is the center of a person for the Romantics, not the mind as it is for scientists of the previous movement, the Enlightenment.  Romantics sought to tap into this soul through intuition and imagination.  They felt that doing so was more natural and, as such, better than the contrivances of scientific pursuit in man placed himself in a position beyond his nature and often his ken.

booboosmoosh's profile pic

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The imagination is of particular importance to the Romantics because they can see a world that has started to disappear with the arrival of the Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason. People had begun to turn toward the answers science was beginning to reveal to the world. However, the Romantics believed that there were many truths to be found in the natural world. Coleridge, for instance, grew up in a town where the only nature he saw was the sky and stars between buildings at night.

Later he promises that his child will know nature intimately. It is not only his imagination to see the world as a better place, but it is a quality that adds to the effectiveness of his writing. For instance, Coleridge uses his imagination to personify frost in his poem, "Frost at Midnight." He also is able to make his poetry come alive with the use of his imagination in providing moving and descriptive images, especially of nature:

But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze

By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags

Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,

Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores

And mountain crags...

How wonderful for us to hear a father's words as he imagines his child's experience with nature so close, personal and free, as a breeze moves freely about, intimately knowing every surface it touches: mountains or sandy shores. The imagination of the Romantics not only allowed them to envision a better world, but provided them with the tools to make their poetry come alive to the reader, even so many years later.

 

timbrady's profile pic

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Part of the reaction was to the position(s) of philosophers like John Locke.  Locke argued that all knowledge comes through the senses; this clearly limits our ability to know things that are perceived, but not known through the senses (God, the spiritual life, etc).  The Romantics found the sensory/rationalistic/scientific approach to knowledge insufficient for explaining human experiences.  Their position is similar to Kant's who notes that we are not just a "tabula rases," that we must act on the sensory information we receive to order it, to make "sense" of it.  In Emerson's language, it is the difference between the things that we "learn" (tuition) and the truths that we perceive (intuition).  

Thus, the Romantics shared their personal perceptions of truth, their intuitions, as valid and interesting to all of us ... as valid as "the facts."

kwoo1213's profile pic

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Imagination was extremely important during this time period!  Along with imagination came a true connection between an appreciation for aesthetic beauty and nature.  Emphasis was placed on feelings and emotions instead of logic and reason.  It is my belief that the Romantic Period was superior because of the beliefs that were popular during this time.  Without feelings and emotions and imagination, writing would be empty!

ladyvols1's profile pic

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Imagination was the cornerstone of the Romantic poets and novelist.  The movement of the Romantic writer was at it's strongest during the years of 1789 until around 1832.  Science and discovery were held in high esteem by the movers and shakers of that era.  The Romantic writers felt that this was too restrictive on their creativity and instead of writing about the experiences one had in the world, they were more interested in why the experience happened, and what affect it would have.  The Romantics wrote through their imaginations, dreams, and thoughts of what might be or what were the causes of life experiences.

Without imagination it would be very difficult to do any type of creative writing.  The imagination is what lets people out of the reality of what is into the world of what might be.

kheenandavies's profile pic

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Imagination was extremely important during this time period!  Along with imagination came a true connection between an appreciation for aesthetic beauty and nature.  Emphasis was placed on feelings and emotions instead of logic and reason.  It is my belief that the Romantic Period was superior because of the beliefs that were popular during this time.  Without feelings and emotions and imagination, writing would be empty!

the focus on the imagination is a reaction against the Enlightenment with its emphasis on rationalism. The Romantics placed more emphasis on feelings and emotion than on logic and scientific argument.

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