Why is the term "Romantic Movement" misleading?

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kateanswers eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The term "Romantic Movement" (also: Romantic Era, Romanticism) might be misleading to modern ears because of our understanding of what it means to be romantic. When we talk about "romance" today, we most often do so in the context of love or intimate relationships. One might think of roses, candles, and wooing their sweetheart. Romanticism was actually less focused on love or intimacy than it was on individualism and emotional expression. Themes such as horror, longing, and an appreciation for nature are all part of the romantic movement.

To a lesser extent, one might consider the term "movement" to be the misleading part. Personally, when I hear the term, I think of great political revolutions and social upheavals. Intellectual and artistic movements work far more implicitly than this. Though Romanticism did have a great effect on politics (particularly nationalist sentiment,) the intended end goal was not necessarily to inspire nationalism or liberalism. Rather, the Romantic Movement was a personal rejection of post-industrialist life and a perceived sense of moral or societal decay, as expressed through literature and the arts.

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