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The Romantics: Initiators of Progress

The Romantics of the 19th century are not exactly what is typically associated with the term today – and to understand their history and cultural significance, one would need to travel back in time. The Romanticism was a movement that spanned across different forms of art – from music and literature to visual art and sculpture. Despite being an opposing force, rebelling against established principles of thought, the Romantist movement was able to influence society in aspects beyond the arts; notably, it had a direct influence on politics of that era.

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Despite, unarguably, casting its influence in the political sphere, it is imperative to notice that Romanticism itself was born during the time of sociopolitical turbulence. Becoming a voice of the discordant during the beginnings of industrialization, they “rejected the pure rationalism of the Enlightenment, maintaining that nature and the power of the imagination could enable people to transcend their everyday circumstances” (OpenLearn). The Romantists propagated the significance of an individual, praising freedom of thought and attempts to find new, creative ways of perceiving reality. These ideas lie at the basis of Romanticism’s cultural heritage left for future generations.

Various members of the movement interpreted its ideals differently. The legendary Byron, “espoused Italian nationalism and advocated the liberation of the Greeks from the Turks” as he believed in national self-determination (OpenLearn). Many Romantists supported the French Revolution, as it appealed their ideology of individual’s power to stand up against authority. A number of poets and artists held liberal views – therefore, their involvement with various instances of political conflict was evident. They believed in their power of changing the social reality as well as collective perception – and therefore, influenced said reality with direct participation, either backing up revolutions and wars or denying politics altogether. However, their individualist tendencies, reverence of nature and the imagination’s power has seeped into the culture of Europe and America – its influence is traceable to this day.

Works Cited

“Legacy of the Romantics”. OpenLearn, 2019, Web.

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