What is Romantic language and style?

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Lynn Ramsson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.