Classicism and Romanticism are opposing movements and styles which have been influential in all the major arts of the Western hemisphere. Architecture, painting, music, and literature have all gone through consecutive (and occasionally concurrent) periods of classicism and Romanticism, the two extremes of which are instantly recognizable. The great public buildings of Washington DC, for instance, are ostentatiously classical, with the notable exception of the Smithsonian Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, the inspiration behind the Disney castle, is extravagantly Romantic.
The difference between classical and Romantic art in all genres has been eloquently expressed by numerous highly partisan commentators. John Ruskin, for instance, writing on architecture, argued that the Romantic style elevated the artisan to an artist, while classicism debased him into a slave. This was because classical architecture demanded perfect symmetry and prearranged order, while gothic architecture (the most completely Romantic style), allowed the workman to create gargoyles and other individual flourishes.
On the other hand, Jane Austen, who wrote some of the most purely classical novels in the English language during a period of burgeoning Romanticism, mocked what she regarded as the extreme emotions and egotism of Romantic literature. In general terms, the values of classicism are order, calm, intellect, and symmetry. In America, it is overwhelmingly the style of secular public architecture: city halls, courthouses, and libraries. In literature, classicism is most completely expressed by epic poetry, regular meter, and rhyming couplets, such as the work of Alexander Pope. Romanticism emphasizes emotion, the senses, and the individual. It provides the architecture of cathedrals and castles and finds expression in poetry about the beauty of nature and the agony or ecstasy of love.