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Transition from Romanticism to Realism

Romanticism is defined as "a movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that marked the reaction in literature, philosophy, art, religion, and politics from the Neoclassicism and formal orthodoxy of the preceding period" (Holman and Harmon 1). Realism, in contrast, is broadly defined as "the faithful representation of reality or verisimilitude" reflected in a literary technique that "centers attention to a remarkable degree on the immediate, the here and now, the specific action, and the verifiable consequence" ("Realism in American Literature..." 1). Realism seems to begin where Romanticism ends although the two genres in literature do at times overlap ("American Literature..." 1).

By examining a number of stories and poems, one can understand this transition and recognize that Realism "was a literary movement directly opposed to the previous movement of Romanticism" (Moore 1). Among the Romantics such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe one finds fictional exploration into what Moore (1) calls the hidden recesses of the soul. In contrast, Realists "felt the need to look at the world as it currently existed and without all the sentimentality of all the Romantics" (Moore 1). Of significance herein is an explication of how Romanticism gave way to Realism which asserts that Realism was a reaction against the excesses of Romanticism.

Consider Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," an excellent example of the Romantic genre. Symbols give the reader further insight into an author's work by placing deeper meaning on seemingly arbitrary details such as names, characters, objects, actions, places, or color. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown", the protagonist, Young Goodman Brown, leaves his wife, Faith, at dusk to rendezvous with the Devil in the forest. During his journey, Young Goodman Brown discovers that the sinful nature, that is human nature, he suspected of himself is true of a...

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Transition from Romanticism to Realism. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 20:16, June 02, 2020, from