Chapter III The Romantic Period
English Romanticism, as a historical phase of literature, is generally said to have began in 1798 with the publication of Wordsworth & Coleridge''''s Lyrical Ballads & to have ended in 1832 with Sir Walter Scott''''s death & the passage of the first Reform Bill in the Parliament.
2. 识记 Historical & Cultural background
During this period, England had experienced profound economic & social change. The biggest social change in English history was the transfer of large masses of the population from the countryside to the towns. As a result of the Enclosures & the agricultural mechanization, the peasants were driven of their land； some emigrated to the colonies； some sank to the level of farm laborers & many others drifted to the industrial towns where there was a growing demand for labor. But the new industrial towns were no better than jungles, where the law was "the survival of the fittest." The cruel economic exploitation caused large-scale workers'''' disturbances in England.
（1） Influences of the Romantic Movement
Romanticism constitutes a change of direction from attention to the outer world of social civilization to the inner world of the human spirit. In essence it designates a literary & philosophical theory which tends to see the individual as the very center of all life & all experience. It also places the individual at the center of art, making literature most valuable as an expression of this or her unique feelings & particular attitudes & valuing its accuracy in portraying the individual''''s experiences.
（2） The Romantic views about literature
a. The Romantic period is an age of poetry. Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley & Keats are the major Romantic poets. They started a rebellion against the neoclassical literature, which was later regarded as the poetic revolution.
b. The Romantic period is also a great age of prose. The two major novelists of the Romantic period are Jane Austen & Walter Scott.
c. Besides poetry & prose, there are quite a number of writers who have fried their hand at poetic dramas in this period.
（1） Literary Terms
a. The Romantic Movement
It expressed a more or less negative attitude towards the existing social & political conditions that came with industrialization & the growing importance of the bourgeoisie. The Romantics felt that the existing society denied people their essential human needs, so they demonstrated a strong reaction against the dominant modes of thinking of the 18th-century writers & philosophers. Where their predecessors saw man as a social animal, the Romantics saw him essentially as an individual in the solitary state & emphasized the special qualities of each individual''''s mind. Romanticism actually constitutes a change of direction from attention to the outer.
b. The Gothic novel