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Compare and contrast Enlightenment ideals with the ideals of Romanticism.

Enlightenment and Romantic ideals are similar in that both are nonreligious and humanistic. They different in that Enlightenment ideals value objective knowledge and empiricism, whereas Romantic ideals favor subjective experience and the individual imagination.

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Thanh Munoz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This is a question that doesn't have an easy answer because first, though much of Romanticism was opposed to the ideals of the Enlightenment, it was also in some ways, paradoxically, an outgrowth of it; and second, both the Enlightenment and Romanticism can be seen as movements that were made up of internally opposing or contradictory elements.

Enlightenment is the term generally given to the dominant Zeitgeist of the period from the late 1600s to the end of the 1700s. It was a set of ideas and ideals that stressed rationalism, optimism, and a wish to transcend the limitations on man that had been imposed in the past by superstition and religion. Philosophers, scientists, and people in all of the arts including literature, music and painting were all a part of this wave of modern thinking. It would be simplistic to regard this as a monolithic movement, however. Voltaire, for instance, is always considered a key figure in the Enlightenment. But so was the earlier philosopher and scientist...

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Romanticism was a movement that stressed human emotions and beauty of nature, while Enlightenment was quite an opposite movement.

While Enlightenment's belief about the material world is that it is the reflection of the ideal world, Romanticism's belief about the material world is that it is the manifestation of divinity or God's self-expression.

The Enlightenment movement was characterized by moderation and order, while Romanticism admired spontaneity and disorder.

While the Enlightenment believed that objectivity and realism can be possible, Romanticism believed that subjectivity and relativity cannot be avoided.

The Enlightenment's literary forms kept and applied traditional forms, while Romanticism's literary forms revealed stylistic autonomy. Enlightenment's art had to be educational and it had to prove its utility, while  Romanticism's art appealed mainly to emotions.