All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Please give examples of romanticism in quotes or scenes from All Quiet on the Western Front.

Expert Answers info

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2010

write4,539 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History

Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front is a realistic account of one German soldier's experiences in World War I. Most of the novel is painfully realistic, as it addresses the horrors of war. Men and boys are terribly wounded and die horrific deaths. Some soldiers go crazy and practically commit suicide in their crazed state. The use of gas and the realities of the trenches are real and believable. Even the disillusionment of the narrator, Paul, is painfully real. That being said, there is also an element of romanticism in this novel. There are consistent examples of people who have idealized (romanticized) views of this war. For example, when Paul goes home on leave, he is told by people there that they are happy to suffer their deprivations since they know the soldiers are benefiting from their sacrifice. They believe what they have been told and never even ask Paul if the soldiers are well provisioned. The truth, of course, is that the soldiers are no better off in terms of food than the civilians. The people also believe the war is being gloriously fought and that they are winning; in reality, the soldiers know that is either propaganda or a dream (probably both) and the war is most certainly lost. Another example is the view of the schoolmasters who encouraged all these boys enlist for a noble war but never acknowledge the certain ravages and consequences to follow. Fighting for one's country is always a glorious and noble concept; however, the realities are neither glorious nor noble. These romanticized views of war are jarring to Paul, and he reflects upon them all through this novel.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial
rrteacher eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write5,464 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

On one level, All Quiet on the Western Front is the story of romanticism shattered in the face of war. Paul and his comrades recall how they willingly and enthusiastically marched off to war, overcome with a sense of national pride, patriotism, and adventure. By the end of the first chapter, though, we see that these romantic notions have been thoroughly replaced by a grim sense of the horrors and even the day-to-day drudgery of war. Kantorek, the schoolmaster who exhorted them to join the fight, is the subject of mockery. The world depicted in All Quiet on the Western Front is one of nearly constant misery and death, where one's comrades are all one has. Remarque intended this realistic portrayal of war to serve as a corrective to the romantic views still (remarkably) held by many people on the home front. Not only does Remarque portray these romantic notions as hopelessly disconnected from reality, but he also suggests that they were themselves a cause of the war.

Further Reading:
check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Unlock This Answer Now