How does Romantic writing differ from the early American writings done by the Puritans?

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The Puritans' major literary works were written and published earlier than the works of the Romantics, and the Puritans were much more influenced by their religious beliefs.

The Puritans are known for their strict religious beliefs, and these are reflected in their literary works. The best-known Puritan poet is Anne...

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The Puritans' major literary works were written and published earlier than the works of the Romantics, and the Puritans were much more influenced by their religious beliefs.

The Puritans are known for their strict religious beliefs, and these are reflected in their literary works. The best-known Puritan poet is Anne Bradstreet, and she often writes about her relationship with God in her texts. For example, in "Before the Birth of One of Her Children," the speaker meditates on the possibility that she will not live through childbirth (a real fear in colonial America). While she focuses on her husband and children and their lives without her, she also recognizes that the human world is transitory and that belief in God results in everlasting life. A great example of this idea is also seen in "Verses upon the Burning of Our House." After lamenting the loss of her family's home, the speaker concludes,

Thou hast a house on high erect
Framed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this be fled.
It‘s purchased and paid for too
By Him who hath enough to do.
A price so vast as is unknown,
Yet by His gift is made thine own;
She addresses God here, "that mighty Architect," and the "permanent" house she references is heaven or eternal life. She refers to Christ's sacrifice when she says that afterlife is "purchased and paid for too / By Him." While the loss of the house is tragic, the speaker's faith in God and the afterlife are the central themes in the poem.
The Romantics, on the other hand, were writing during an era of revolution following the Enlightenment. At this time, many people had lost faith in old institutions and traditions. This, of course, included religion. The Romantics are more interested in individual self-expression than in devoting their lives or works to God. The Romantic poets tend to write about experiences in the natural world, make mythical allusions, and express emotions. For example, John Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" celebrates and meditates on the work of Grecian pottery, which inspires him to think about mortality and the relative permanence of art. He uses exclamatory statements to mark his effusive reactions:
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
The repetition of the word "happy" and the exclamation points indicate the speaker's heightened emotion. He is also thinking about how the figures on the urn will always be engaged in the "happy" scene he is observing now, centuries after its creation.
William Wordsworth, another Romantic poet, often wrote of his sojourns into nature and how they lifted his spirts. Take "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," for example. The speaker thinks about when he was in depressed spirits and how thinking of nature cheers him. He writes,
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
The speaker's "inward eye" here represents his personal memories, and when he thinks of "the daffodils" he has seen when wandering aimlessly in nature on happier days, his "heart with pleasure fills." This sentiment is typical in Romantic poems. However, this does not mean that the poets are self-involved and solitary; as I said before, they were also very influenced by the political landscape of the time and the social contexts, as we can see in a poem like Wordsworth's "The World is Too Much with Us."
Ultimately, though both Puritan and Romantic poets are associated with certain markers and qualities, both groups of writers were influenced by the social milieu from which they arose.
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Both types of writing reflect the culture and beliefs of their era.

Writing of the Puritans particularly captures the lifestyle of a people bound to the conditions of a strict religious view with little room for grace or forgiveness. They focused on education, and founded Harvard University among others. Their literature reflects this in that the language demonstrates complicated (but correct) sentence structures as well as great variety in vocabulary. I think it is also important not to confuse writings about Puritans (The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible) with writings by Puritans.

Anne Bradstreet's writings reflect someone feeling trapped by a society's pressure to perform or be perfect. Jonathan Edwards' sermons reflect great pressure to come to Christ. Each of their writings use literary devices to express their points. The development of these are usually in the form of a more complicated extended metaphor or allegorical symbol. We see this in the hand of God in Edwards' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and in Bradstreet's "The Author to Her Book" in which Bradstreet likens her writing to that of raising a child.

In the Romantic era, we see something much different. In essence, Puritans wrote about what was real to them; Romantics began to express themselves through their imagination. A wide variety of authors are considered to be Romantic. Mary Shelley for example wrote Frankenstein which was a great expression of what the human mind was capable of imagining at the time. Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters were also considered Romantics. They often wrote about relationships which contained exaggerated situational circumstances.

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There are a number of differences between the two eras, but the main one is that Puritan writing was entirely focused on God and religion. Writing was a means of servig God. Take the poetry of Edward Taylor, for instance. His poems were a means of making God more available to the masses. Even the histroical journal of William Bradford, "Of Plymouth Plantation" contains many incidents of praise to God for safety and a new home in the new world.

The Romantics looked at the world differently. It was a reaction against Realism and an escape form a rapidly industrialized world, Great value was placed on intuition (common sense). The dark romantics such as Poe began to delve deep into the human psyche as well.

 

 

 

 

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