Romanticism core values and major authors within the political context of its time, beginning in Germany and England in the 1770s, by the 1820s Romanticism had swept through Europe. Romanticism was a multi-disciplinary artistic movement, transforming poetry, the novel, drama, painting, sculpture, music and ballet. Romanticism was allied with revolutionary spirit, especially during its formative years. Romantics emphasize individuals communing with nature. Romantic art emphasized simplicity, especially rural, and natural scenes. In terms of a literary form, this simplicity was expressed in folk ballads, fairy tales and other rustic genres.
In the eighteenth century, reason was seen as good, while the imagination was viewed as dangerous. It was thought that indulging the imagination led to madness. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Romantics reversed this formula, declaring that imagination trumps reason. Some of the Romantics, especially Coleridge, even saw imagination as a near-divine power of mind. Dreams and trance states were nearly allied with imagination and highly valued by the Romantics.
The Romantics had four core values; equality, the untutored imagination could produce works as stirring as the mind of the trained artist; spontaneity, romantics admired the creative genius of the mind at play; simplicity, beautiful art should be direct and heartfelt, not artificial or overly embellished; individualism, self-definition and self-invention valued over conformity.
In the 18th century, there was the Enlightenment Movement, and later in 1780 to 1830, there was the Romantic Movement. The characteristics of the Enlightenment Movement include reason, objectivity, deliberation, hierarchy, conformity, tradition, and completeness, love of ornate, cultivated nature including gardens, farms, and pastoral imagery. The characteristics of the Romantic Movement include imagination, subjectivity, spontaneity, equality and democracy, individualism, rebellion, fragments, and love of wild, uncultivated nature including blasted trees, and wilderness.
The major authors for the first generation British Romantics include William Wordsworth, 1770 to 1850, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, 1772 to 1834, William Blake, 1757 to 1827, and Mary Wollstonecraft, 1759-1797. The major authors for the second generation British Romantics include Percy Shelley, 1792 to 1822, Mary Shelley, 1797-1851, John Keats, 1795 to 1821, Lord Byron, 1788 to 1824, and John Polidori, 1795 to 1821.
The political context of the Romantics Movement includes in the 1790s, the French Revolution, and American Revolution. By the 1830s, there was the Reform Bill of 1832, which extended the vote and reorganized voting districts, slavery was abolished in the British colonies in 1833, and Queen Victoria ascended to the throne in 1837.
In the French Revolution, 1789 to 1799, the revolution begins with lofty ideals of “Liberte, Egalite, and Fraternite,” Freedom, Equality, and Brotherhood. The commoners agitate against the nobility, and intellectuals see the Revolution as the triumph of reason over prejudice. The Reign of Terror was from 1793 to 1794. King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were guillotined in 1792. During the last six weeks of the “Red Terror” nearly fourteen hundred people were guillotined in Paris.
In the American Revolution, Britain loses a valuable colony, and similar to the French, the Americans take a stand against nobility and inherited privilege. For example, American decided to have an elected president rather than a king.