American Romanticism which also called “American Renaissance” appeared from the
thbeginning of 19 Century to the break of Civil War(1820~1860). It was the most important period in the history of American literature. The Sketch Book written by
Washington Irving marked the beginning of American Romanticism. Following the rise of romanticism, Transcendentalism, which appeared after 1830, marked the maturity of American Romanticism and the first renaissance in the American literary history. During the Transcendentalism period, Walden written by Thoreau became the
thfoundation of American Romanticism. In the first half of 19 Century, Western
Europe Romanticism has already deeply influenced on American Romanticism. Besides, American capitalism had a rapid development as well as the national consciousness and patriotic enthusiam of Americans. What’s more, American writers gradually got rid of the shackles of British Romanticism and became aware of the need of paying attention to the creation of human spirit and Transcendentalism which aimed at pursuing freedom. From then on, American Romanticism went into the flourishing period.
It can be said American Romanticism and British Romanticism are the two representatives of Romanticism. However, they have a lot of distinctions which are embodied in many aspects. Firstly, from the aspect of appearance and cause, English
ththRomanticism appeared at the turn of 18 and 19 centuries(1798—1832) as a new
trend in literature. It rose and grew under the impetus of the Industrial Revolution and French Revolution. Economically, a modern industrialization society has taken place of the agricultural society and economic exploitations of the workers by the capitalists became heavier gradually. In addition, Rousseau, the forerunner of French Revolution, his new idea about nature, society and education as well as those radicals’
announcement of liberty, equality and fraternity in French Revolution stimulated the appearance of British Romanticism. American Romanticism appeared from 1820 to
1860, it rose and grew under Westward expansion and the experience of industrial transformation. The two-party system of freedom and democracy in America also caused the appearance of American Romanticism. Secondly, British Romanticism was the revolt of the English imagination against of the neo-classical reason while American Romanticism was the revolt against classicism. Thirdly, the theme and the focus of them are quite different. The themes of British Romanticism were bitterness and melancholy and it focused on the spontaneous outflow of power feelings, imagination, escapes from society and returns to nature. The themes of American Romanticism were a strong sense of optimism and a mood of “feeling good” of the
whole country. It focused on free expression of emotions, imaginative qualities such as picturesque, exotic, sensuous and supernatural and moralizing the wildness and American Puritanism. Last but not least, the characteristics of them were apparently distinctive. British Romanticism’s characteristics mostly contained nature images,
dream-like atomsphere, music beauty and gothic elements. However, American Romanticism mostly contained Puritanism, Calvinistic view of original sin and gothic elements.
In the earlier stage of American Romanticism, the representatives included Washington Ivring who wrote A History of New York and The Sketch Book, James
Fenimore Cooper who wrote The Last of the Mohicans and The Pilot and Edgar Allan
Poe who wrote Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque and Tales. In the later stage of
American Romanticism, the representatives included Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote The Scarlet Letter and The Marble Faun, Walt Whitman who wrote Leaves of Grass
and Herman Melville who wrote Moby Dick” And the representatives of American
Transcendentalism which appeared in American Romanticism included Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote Nature and Henry David Thoreau who wrote Walden.
Among all those great American Romanticism writers and their great literary works, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter leaves the most profound
impression on me. It was published in 1850. The novel is set in the American colonial era two hundred years ago and it exposes the social cruelty, religious deception and
thmoral hypocrisy in 19 century under capitalist development in America. Hawthorne uses symbolism throughoutthe novel. The characters, plots and language are all quite subjective which full of imagination and the writer often put the description of characters’ mental activities and intuition in the first place. Thus, The Scarlet Letter is
not only the representative of American Romantic novels but also the beginning of the American psychological novels.
In general, American Romanticism was a kind of imitation as well as innovation because it appeared under the Western Europe Romanticism and finally it created a unique style of fiction and poetry. American Romanticism embraced the individual and rebelled against the confinement of neoclassicism and religious tradition. American Romanticism created a new literary genre that continued to influence American writers.