Differences between Romanticism and Classicism

Differences between Romanticism and Classicism

Differences between Romanticism and Classicism : Classicism and Romanticism are opposing movements and styles which have been influential in all the major arts of the Western hemisphere. Architecture, painting, music, and literature have all gone through consecutive (and occasionally concurrent) periods of classicism and Romanticism, the two extremes of which are instantly recognizable. The great public buildings of Washington DC, for instance, are ostentatiously classical, with the notable exception of the Smithsonian Castle. Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, the inspiration behind the Disney castle, is extravagantly Romantic.

Differences between Romanticism and Classicism

The difference between classical and Romantic art in all genres has been eloquently expressed by numerous highly partisan commentators. John Ruskin, for instance, writing on architecture, argued that the Romantic style elevated the artisan to an artist, while classicism debased him into a slave. This was because classical architecture demanded perfect symmetry and prearranged order, while gothic architecture (the most completely Romantic style), allowed the workman to create gargoyles and other individual flourishes.

On the other hand, Jane Austen, who wrote some of the most purely classical novels in the English language during a period of burgeoning Romanticism, mocked what she regarded as the extreme emotions and egotism of Romantic literature. In general terms, the values of classicism are order, calm, intellect, and symmetry. In America, it is overwhelmingly the style of secular public architecture: city halls, courthouses, and libraries. In literature, classicism is most completely expressed by epic poetry, regular meter, and rhyming couplets, such as the work of Alexander Pope. Romanticism emphasizes emotion, the senses, and the individual. It provides the architecture of cathedrals and castles and finds expression in poetry about the beauty of nature and the agony or ecstasy of love.

Classicism, or Neo-Classism, was in many ways a revolt against the excesses of the Baroque period. Classism, which was both an artistic and intellectual movement during the 1700s, emphasized a return to order, restraint, and reason. The movement looked to classical Greece and Rome for its inspiration. For example, the architecture of the period had the classic columns characteristic of Ancient Greece and Rome. Classicism reigned during the Enlightenment, a period that emphasized reason and brought about political change, including the French, American, and Haitian Revolutions.

Differences between Romanticism and Classicism

Romanticism, which developed around 1800, was a literary and artistic movement that was in many ways a rejection of Classicism. It emphasized feeling and emotion, particularly the emotion of the individual. The Romantic poets, for example, wrote in ways that emphasized horror and the supernatural as an expression of emotion over reason. The emphasis was not on order, as it was during the Neo-Classical period, but on feeling.

Romanticism was a reaction against Classicism in poetry. Classical poetry in the eighteenth century modeled itself on the work of Greek and Roman poets, and it used Classical characters and situations such as figures and stories from Greek mythology and history. For example, Pope’s Rape of the Lock is a parody of a heroic epic, based on the Iliad. It was written to mock or make fun of a diminished English aristocracy that was not off fighting wars in the Classical model, but feuding over locks of hair. Pope assumed that his audience would be familiar with the Iliad.

Classical poetry had very clear, regular meters and rhyme schemes, was more interested in the important people in society than anyone else, and was more likely to convey ideas than emotions.

The age of Romantic poetry in England is often associated with the publication of Wordsworth’s and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads. In the preface, Wordsworth writes about a kind of poetry that puts the emphasis on the common person, nature, and the supernatural. Rather than reason, emotion predominates. Wordsworth famously wrote that

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

Romantic poets wanted to write in simple, everyday language that was accessible to ordinary people who might not have been schooled in the Greek and Latin classics. It was far less rigid in rhyme scheme and often referenced folk stories or ballads rather than Classical literature.

What are the differences between Romanticism and classicism?

Romanticism and Classicism exist on two very different poles within literary movements. Many new periods came about as a reaction to the previous period, and the contrasts between these periods are no different.

First, to differentiate between the two, we will begin with their differences in how they regarded nature. The Romantics believed that nature was powerful and constantly changing. The Romantics believed that nature was a force that would/could never be fully understood. Unlike the Romantics, the Classicists believed that nature could be rationalized and, therefore, completely understood.

Second was the differentiating thoughts on truth. The Romantics believed that one would only find truth through their own intuition given they highlighted the importance of individual thought and not societal thought. The Classicists, instead, believed that truth existed only as a result of reason. They found that imaginative thought failed to be able to be studied scientifically and, therefore, upheld no realistic function.

Third, ties into scientific thought differences. The Classicists believed that man should conform to universal thought and ideas. The Romantics believed that they should embrace their own individual innovations. Perhaps the most poignant quote to exemplify Romantic thought on tradition and innovation is from William Blake:

I must create a system or be enslaved by another mans; I will not reason and compare.

Basically, the Romantics believed in the endless possibilities which man could change the world, and they embraced them. The Classicists, instead, held up the importance of adhering to what has already been said and done and mastering only those ideals.

 Romanticism vs Classicism : compare difference

Romanticism and Classicism are sharply distinguished from each other: in comparison indeed, one is said to be the very antithesis of the other. The distinction does not so much refer to the contents of literature as the manner and approach. The two movements arise from particular phases of national life in different periods.

The distinction between the two has been summed up in an inimitable manner by Prof. Sidney Colvin and we cannot do better than to quote him at length to make the distinction clear. “The distinction between the two is much less of subject than of treatment though to some objects the one mode of treatment is more appropriate, and to some the other. In classical writing every idea is called up to the mind as nakedly as possible, and at the same time as distinctly. It is exhibited in white light and left to produce its effect by its own unaided power. In romantic writing, on the other hand, all objects are exhibited as it were, through a coloured and iridescent atmosphere. Round about every central idea the romantic writer summons up a cloud of accessory and sub-ordinate ideas for the sake of enhancing its effect, if at the risk of the confusing its outlines.

The temper, again, of the romantic writer, is one of self-possession. No matter what the power of his subject, the classical writer does not fail to assert his mastery over it and over. himself, while the romantic writer seems as though his subject were ever on the point of dazzling and carrying himself. On the one hand there is calm, on the other hand, enthusiasm; the virtues of the one style are strength of grasp and clearness and justice of presentment: the virtues of the other style are glow of spirit and magic and richness of suggestion. Thus Classicism stands for precision, balance, harmony and economy in diction. Imagination and emotion are controlled and disciplined by scrupulous and restrained manner. Romanticism stands for exuberance of emotion and expression, wealth of details, depth of imagination and rich suggestiveness.

The Elizabethan writers were essentially romantic and some of them extravagantly so. In reaction to it rose the classical school. Milton is said to be the fount-head of that movement. The poets and writers from Dryden to Johnson are the advocates of classicism. These writers lacked what Matthew Arnold called high seriousness’. Their criticism of life is prosaic and not imaginative interpretation of life. These defects of the classical school were more than compensated by the Romantic writers. The Romantic period is an age of reawakening, of imaginative conquest and discovery. Of the variety of the contents of this literature there is no end. New springs of poetic inspiration began to flow in uninterrupted current in the Romantic age and for its beauty and freshness the achievements of the Romantics are great, indeed.

Read it also:  Sarojini Naidu’s Contribution to Indian English Literature

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