Romanticism Vs. Realism Essay, Research Paper
American Romanticism was as an artistic movement that took place during the eighteenth
century. Romantic writers had a very different style than the normal writers of the time. They
stressed the examination of inner feelings, emotions, and use of imagination. They also stressed
an accent on the mysterious, strange, and fantastic aspects of the human experience. The last
element of Romanticism is an intense reverence for nature and concern with the experience of the
individual over the universal. These are some of the elements of Romanticism.
Unlike the Romantic writers, Realistic writers were interested in reaction, logic, and
scientific observation. They tried to render reality closely and in comprehensive detail. One
aspect of Realism that completely differs from Romanticism is that in Realism there are no
characters that overcome insurmountable to be heroes and save the day. Instead there are
characters that better represent the way real people act and how they live their lives dealing with
what life gives them. A realist understands that there are forces in the world that will simply not
bend to the will of men. This idea is an extension of Realism called Naturalism.
An example of a Romantic writer is James Fenimore Cooper. He was the first person to
make a living as a writer. Also known as The American Scott , Cooper was very much into
British Romanticism. Cooper s writings were distinctly American because the reader had to step
out of the European influence to learn the lesson. One character of Cooper s works is Natty
Bumppo. Natty is a perfect example of a romantic hero. Natty loves nature and understands that
it is not to be destroyed but respected. When Natty goes hunting he only kills as much as he needs
to. For this reason Natty disagrees with the way the townspeople hunt because they consider it a
game. They would use cannons and shotguns to hunt birds even though there was no need to kill
that many. Natty also had extraordinary or supernatural skills with a weapon. He is able to bring
down birds with one musket shot, while others use shotguns and canons. Natty Bumppo is so
concerned with the natural world because he knows the true nature of civilized society.
An example of a Realistic writer is Stephen Crane. One realistic story that he wrote was
The Open Boat . In this story, Crane uses the characters to represent the hierarchal classes that
are found in our everyday society. The captain represents the upper-class or the leaders. The
Oiler represents the ideal citizen. The correspondent represents the middle-class or average man.
The cook represents the lower-class or the workers. Crane sets these characters fighting to
survive in the ocean which is full of waves and other uncertainties. Crane uses the ocean as a
symbol for life. The waves represent all the obstacles that a person has to overcome in life. This
story clearly is an example of Murphy s Law which states that anything that can go wrong will.
There is one good point that Crane makes in this story through the use of Naturalism. The Oiler
is the ideal citizen yet he is the one to die. Crane is trying to show the reader that nature is
indifferent to man. Nature could care less if you are rich or poor, pretty or ugly, smart or stupid.
Romanticism and Realism are two very different styles of writing. They are basically
complete opposites of each other except for in the area of nature. Romantics and realists both
have a reverence for nature. Realists understand that nature is a force which no man can affect.
A realist respects this fact.