Romanticism theater were obvious in his works.

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Romanticism is a literary and artistic movement of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries that placed value on emotion or imagination over reason, on the
imagination over society. Some sources say Romanticism started in reaction to
neo-classicism, or the Enlightenment. The most important result of romanticism
was the emphasis laid upon the supernatural. Some writers during this time
period were Mary Shelley with Frankenstein, Edgar Allen Poe with various poems
and selections, such as The Raven, The TellTale Heart, and The Pit and The
Pendulum. One person who had a great effect on the Romantic era was Washington
Irving. Some called Irving the first real American writer. Washington Irving was
born April 3, 1783, in New York City. He was the eleventh child of Sarah William
Irving. His father was a strict man, a merchant and deacon in the Presbyterian
Church. He started school at the age of four, but he never took it seriously.


Even when he was older, he did not really care for school. He did not impress
any of his teachers as outstanding. It was out of school where his real
interests developed. His interests were more into reading books of adventure and
travel. He was very good at writing, though. He loved the theater. His
fascination with the arts grew and was encouraged by one of her sister’s
boyfriends (Myers 64). His interests in the arts and in the theater were obvious
in his works. Irving did not wish to go to college. Though he had great
interests in the theater and the arts, his father expected each of his sons to
support himself, so Washington decided to be an apprentice in a law office. His
employer was Ogden Hoffman and Irving fell in love with his daughter. He also
wrote articles for his brother’s paper, the Morning Chronicle. He signed his
articles “Jonathon Oldstyle”. Later he joined his brother William and
his friend Jim Paulding in making a humorous magazine called Salmagundi. In
1809, he published Dreidrich Knickerbocker’s History of New York. He later went
to Europe in 1815. Many people were very anxious to meet him. From 1815-1832, he
lived in England, Dresden, Paris, and Spain. In 1819, he published The
Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, which most people see as his greatest work. This
book was a collection of essays and stories. Among the stories it included
“Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”. Both
these stories were based on German legends. He is very highly acclaimed for
these two children’s stories. Irving wrote many good selections. Despite this
fact, some say Irving could be seen as a lesser man than his predecessors.


According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “He lacked the religious intensity of
Mather, the versatility of Franklin, the statesmanship of Jefferson, or the
dedication of Paine. Yet he outlives them all in the history of American
letters”(649). Others see him as the first real American poet. Everyone saw
him as such a great poet because of The SketchBook. Everyone was reading it in
that time. It was all the rage. This book established Irving as a talented
writer , one whose elegant good taste seemed to come instinctively. While he was
making Dreidrich Knickerbocker’s History of New York, he was interrupted by the
sudden death of Matilda Hoffman, Ogden Hoffman’s daughter. It caused him much
grief, but after a while, he learned how to live with it. For some years after
the success of his book, his life seemed to him more or less aimless. During
these years he turned to variety of pursuits. He primed an American edition of
Thomas Campbell’s poems, edited the Analectic Magazine and acquired a
colonelship during the war of 1812. The Romantic sonnet holds in its topics the
ideals of the time period, concentrating on emotion, nature, and the expression
of “nothing.” The Romantic era was one that focused on the commonality
of humankind and, while using emotion and nature, the poets and their works shed
light on people’s universal natures. In Charlotte Smith’s “Sonnet XII –
Written on the Sea Shore,” the speaker of the poem embodies two important
aspects of Romantic work in relating his or her personal feelings and emotions
and also in having a focused and detailed natural setting. The speaker takes his
or her “solitary seat” near the shore of a stormy sea and reflects
upon life and the “wild gloomy scene” that suits the “mournful
temper” of his or her soul (ll.4, 7,8). While much Romantic writing dealt
with love and the struggles endured due to love, there was also emphasis placed
on isolation, as seen in the emotions of Smith’s speaker and also in the setting
on the work. Nature, in many Romantic sonnets, is in direct parallel with the
emotions being conveyed. Smith, for example, uses the water to aid the reader’s
comprehension of the speaker’s state of mind. Included in this traditional
natural setting is the use of the sea as stormy, deep, extensive, and dark which
ties the speaker in with the setting as the scene applies to the tone of the
poem as well. Also characteristic of the Romantic sonnet is the retreat from the
neo-classical age and its significant historical references into a new age where
it becomes common to speak of “nothing.” In William Wordsworth’s
“Composed Upon Westminster Bridge,” there is no deeper meaning to be
grasped other than the beauty of the day’s dawning. The speaker’s view of the
morning and its “majesty” and the “calm” that comes over the
speaker are central ideas in the poem (ll. 3, 11). In this sonnet, it is again
apparent how influential and prevalent nature is.

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