What is the theme of nature in Romantic literature? 

1 Answer | Add Yours

missjgoodwin's profile pic

missjgoodwin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

In works falling into the genre of Romanticism, nature was highlighted as being the antithesis to what the writers of the period were protesting against. Their portrayal and often personification of nature was a reaction against the industrialisation of the period and the issues that came with it. Writers in this movement saw industrialisation as a process that destroyed the agrarian economy and gave rise to poverty, crime and overcrowding in the cities. Their descriptions of cities are very bleak. Images of the cities are juxtaposed with those of the natural world. Nature would be idealised and its positive traits exaggerated in order to demonise the city and the associated industrialisation. William Blake, one of the more notable writers of the period, wrote a poem entitled "London". It's first stanza ("I wander thro’ each charter’d street, / Near where the charter’d Thames does flow. / And mark in every face I meet /Marks of weakness, marks of woe.") clearly demonstrates how he feels about the city. In his eyes, man has tried to conquer and control nature and this has had negative consequences. In contrast, when Blake writes about nature in "Auguries of Innocence" he exaggerates the power of nature in the lines, "To see a world in a grain of sand/And a heaven in a wild flower." He goes on to emphasise how man's damage to the natural world is disasterous. For example, "A robin redbreast in a cage/Puts all heaven in a rage."
So basically, the theme and images of nature were used by Romantic artists to highlight, via hyperbole and juxtaposition, what was being done incorrectly or unjustly in their society. It is very much a reflection of their historical and social context, as well as their values.

We’ve answered 318,982 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question