Romanticism was a movement in the arts that began as a revolt against the scientific rationalism after the Industrial Revolution. Possessed of a distrust of industry and the city life, Romanticism encouraged the use of intuition, imagination, and emotion as superior to reason; Romanticists felt that contemplation of the natural world is a means of discovering the truth that lies behind mere reality. In addition, the Romantics fostered an interest in the more "natural past" and in the supernatural.
In the story of the Romantic, Washington Irving, "The Devil and Tom Walker," there is clearly evidence of elements of Romanticism. One prominent element is
- The main plotline revolves around the bargains of the devil with Tom Walker's wife and Tom himself. In fact, this story has been referred to as the "comic New England Faust."
NATURE, AS OPPOSED TO THE CITY AND INDUSTRY, AS A SOURCE OF TRUTH
- The moral lesson of the story that greed is evil evolves from the narrative of Tom Walker in a rural area. For example, even though he becomes rich, Tom is so stingy that he still does not properly feed his horses.
- The beautiful natural landscape of New England with its bluffs is the setting for the preternatural experiences of Irving's narrative.
EMOTION AS SUPERIOR TO REASON
- Tom Walker loses his life because he tries to outwit the devil. Had he had love (true emotion) for his wife and his fellow-men, he might not have met the end that he has from his greed and hypocrisy.