What is Romantic language and style?

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Romanticism emerged as a reaction against both the rationalism embraced by the Enlightenment and the cold mechanized society of industrialization, and the Romantic aesthetic represented a revolt against those tendencies. The Romantics appealed to emotion—the more intense and tumultuous, the better. This is perhaps most clearly expressed in the idea...

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Romanticism emerged as a reaction against both the rationalism embraced by the Enlightenment and the cold mechanized society of industrialization, and the Romantic aesthetic represented a revolt against those tendencies. The Romantics appealed to emotion—the more intense and tumultuous, the better. This is perhaps most clearly expressed in the idea of the Byronic hero: tortured and brooding, unstable and perhaps even dangerous, an outcast in conventional society. The Romantics viewed emotion in terms of pathos: as something overwhelming and even sublime.

So far, previous Educators have looked at this question mostly through the lens of literature and poetry, but I would note that Romanticism is multidisciplinary, and you can see its revolutionary elements manifested in other forms of artistic expression (it's not strictly literary). For example, Romantic music illustrates this dramatically, most famously in the example of Beethoven. Beethoven can get deeply violent and deeply passionate in his sound, and he brings his emotional intensity to the forefront of the music in ways which earlier classical composers would have balked at, and in this he is not actually all that unique. This is the key defining feature of Romanticism in music (whether we're looking at Beethoven, Schubert, or someone later, like Tchaikovsky): emotional intensity conveyed through music.

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Romanticism is an artistic, musical, and literary movement of eighteenth-century Europe. Poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Blake represent the first wave of Romantic writers in England, while the younger generation of Romantic poets include Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and John Keats.

Romantic language and style are characterized by an emphasis on personal feeling and emotional depth. For example, Romantic thinkers of this time period (who, by the way, did not describe themselves as "Romantic" necessarily) sought out opportunities to experience the sublime, which is something, usually in nature, that inspires deep and profound emotion. Experiencing the sublime allows the individual to contemplate his or her own insignificance in the enormity of the natural world, and Romantics found this realization of humanity's smallness to be a truly beautiful and memorable experience. The language used to describe this experience is emotional and earnest, dramatic and full of overflowing descriptors.

Romantic language and style are also influenced by the writer's imagination and fantasy. Imagination was also believed to be of utmost importance, and an individual's fantasy had more value to the Romantics than an individual's grasp on reality. This is part of the reason behind the Romantics' idealization of childhood, which is a time when one can live fully in his or her imagination, innocent to the corruption of the pragmatic thinking that characterizes adulthood.

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The Romantic writers, both authors and poets, idealized the individual, the imagination over realism, and the dreamworld. Romantics also incorporated nature, or Nature personified, in their texts. Essentially, nature had a power which matched, and sometimes exceeded, that of humankind.

The language of the Romantics' is elevated and eloquent. Romantics employed the use of numerous rhetorical devices (metaphors, similes, and personification), and they looked at the world through "rose colored glasses" (an optimistic view of the world which failed to show the world realistically). 

Emily Dickinson, a Romantic poet, personified Death in "Because I could not stop for Death." Death is given the ability to walk around and, essentially, collect its "partners" in a carriage headed for the end of the road (or the person's life). 

Mary Shelley, a Romantic novelist, uses elevated and eloquent language in Frankenstein. "I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation." 

William Blake, another Romantic poet, played with the idea of nature's power. In "The Tyger," Blake illustrates the power of nature while questioning its existence in the first place. Curiously enough, Blake is successful in both elevating and questioning nature's power in the same piece. 

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