Everyone leaves a mark. It could be anywhere on anything on anyone. These marks can be big or small. They can affect anyone in a different way. And so, they make an impression, an impression that does not go away. For many people these “marks” were in the arts, because the culture was so embedded into the arts. And from these arts, whether it was a painting or a book, there were a so-called glow that engulfed the people of this time. They were left, intentional or not, for the people who desperately needed it. Since the 1700’s and on being desperate times for the people, and when these marks found them they created a new path.
For many, they came from literary works, bringing comfort and hope. Although, there were a variety of writers that different people looked up to, such as John Keats, Robert Burns and William Wordsworth. These writers shared many things in common and together they show the characteristics of American Romanticism, which were influenced by the events and are manifested in the literary works of the time. As human beings we desire the thirst of more, more knowledge, more choices, and more opportunities. The Louisiana Purchase was the fountain we all needed.
This purchase connected us with a nature that in turn affected our muses and created a love that resulted in an abundance of new literary ideas. For many nature was a link to greater literature, with its beauty and diversity. After the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase from Lewis and Clark and possibly their own voyage outward, people got a better view of what the earth had in store. In fact a wonderful aspiring poet named William Cullen Bryant created a poem surrounding the wonders of the land. Descripting the ones who love nature will hear her voice and be able to see the greatness beyond that “Are but the solemn ecorations all of the great tomb of man” and its beauty (44-45).
Nature was beautiful solitude place that could take you away from your worries, for Rip Van Winkle it did just that. Everyone wants freedom, no matter what form. They don’t want the imaginary binds that hold them back, and so when Rip Van Winkle went into the woods, which was associated with fun and freedom, that is where his dreams came true. Although, this new abundance of land didn’t just bring happiness and hope. When the 1820’s rolled around it brought more people and culture.
People from all over wanted to see the land of unknown and prosperity, and so they came. The most populous area was New York City, doubling its population between 1820 and 1840. Crime and disease increased exponentially and there were horrible living conditions. This created a hatred or distrust of city life and a more nurturing aspect towards the wilderness. This was true in every way for Rip Van Winkle, he associated the town with everything he hated, work, responsibilities and, his wife. This was a belief that industrialization and society had a corrupting agent.
For example, as James Fenimore Cooper once said, ‘With the high innate courtesy that so often distinguishes the Indian warrior before he becomes corrupted by too much intercourse with the worst class of the white men. ” This gave the impression that Native American culture is very natural and associated with nobility, which is very different from American culture because of their need to expand and industrialize. This corruption of society made people turn to a more interest in the individual. With the growing interest in the common person, arouse a man named Andrew Jackson, who then became President.
He was a man that grew in the backwoods, experiencing nature first hand on a daily basis. With his irregular education, he had to work hard to become the man he was. He became a military man making his way to Major General with several accomplishments in the act of war. He succeeded in every aspect winning the hearts of the people showing them a common man could do anything if they tried hard enough. He made a path showing an individual could find its own way in life, just like the symbolism of the bird in “To a Waterfowl”.
Just like William Cullen Bryant once said, “There is Power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast. “(13-14) This quote stating that individuals make their own path and those that are “Lone wandering” are not lost (16). Nevertheless, with the way Andrew Jackson set the bar so high it created an air of reform. th the increased interest in reform, people started to work toward benefits that helped the individual. Yet, with the individual trying to better themselves, they in turn helped the helpless, caring for one another and making a better society.
Most people have an innate sympathy toward the downtrodden, such as the “Child of the wandering sea, Cast from her lap, forlorn” and the outcasted (24-25). This is the “Chambered Nautilus” by Oliver Wendell Holmes, where the shell is metaphorically an abandoned child, who is wrecked and broken. People take notice of the underdogs and feel a need to help, and so in their national life they felt the stirring of change and acted upon it. In the Romanticism area we acted upon many feeling such as, emotion to find truth. Romanticism was a reaction to rationalism.
Rationalism believed in reason alone but European factories showed that is had its limits. Therefore, romantics escaped reason and found themselves immersed in intuition, imagination, and emotion. They wanted to feel the emotion that came with the natural beauty of arts. So then, when looking at “The Tide Rises, the Tide Falls” we assess the truth through our emotional experiences. When we look at the symbolism of the tide, we don’t look at it as a scientist would rather we learn the truth through imagination and emotion.
This poem shows the eternal cycles of nature in contrast to our fatality just like “The little waves, with their soft, white hands, Efface the footprints in the sands” of time (8-9). This represents how romantics rejects Neoclassical values and beliefs finding a truer way to life. This was just on of the many sources for the romantics in their ingrained ways. The dull realities of the common day to day life was not enough, they wanted to soar above it and find more ways to escape and embrace other realms. They dug through the thin layer of “reality” and broke into the supernatural.
They did this by exploring folklore and observing exotic settings, contemplating nature. When we look deeper than the surface we arise to different perspectives just like in “The Cross of Snow” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, where he looks at the mountain in a much different way than a geologist would. Geologists look at facts and numbers and don’t want to see more than that, that is what make them realists. Anyhow, Longfellow, rather than the geologist, uses his imagination to see truths, from personal experience, that some wounds are so deep that the sun can not reach them.
He uses the mountains as the source of his pain saying, “There is a mountain in the distant West That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines Displays a cross of snow upon its side. ” The ravine in the mountain is his wound that can’t feel the sun. Furthermore, this interest loops back to nature and its contemplation which in itself represents another source of Romanticism; the natural cycle of life in nature. The Romantic Era was one of many that created a mark so deep that it affects how we see truth, reality, and reason.
Each point has manifested itself in artworks throughout this time showing an abundance of characteristics that were influenced by the events that occurred before and during this era. It created a light that many people needed when they were lost in their own worlds, in their own minds. Therefore, this era saved many people from the brainwashing from the rationalists and puritans who put a wall between strict reason and the fluidity of the imagination. Romantics took a bomb of truth and threw it at the wall, opening up the most precious thing in this world.