American Literature from Puritanism to Romanticism

Comparison of Puritanism, the Age of Reason, and Romanticism.

Puritanism→hard times→God-centered (look for answers from God)→ unknown is defined as God→Salem witch trials

Puritanism→mysticism→orderly way of life→extremism

Age of Reason→easier times→human-centered→logical analysis of the environment (look for answers in human intellect and reasoning abilityóresult is an emotional emptiness; nothing to explain why there is evil or happiness)→ unknown is only that which reason hadnít discovered)→ American Independence

Age of Reason→mysticism out→God on vacation→science the new king→everything could be known

 Romanticism→times of growth and change→imagination (mind or soul)-centered (soul is humanís emotional center, that inner self that causes humans to act and react emotionally)→ Search for answers in the unknown (Unknown is what canít be explainedóno God and reason and science canít explain canít explain everything; grew also out of the physical wilderness, unexplored terriroty of the Westóincluding Louisiana territory.  The geographical wilderness causes humans to reflect on the spiritual wilderness)→analysis of emotions and unconscious (although pre-Freud, there was a sense that there was a deeper consciousness→Civil War

Romanticism→mysticism back in→God is in nature, if he exists→emphasis on imagination, not religion

The Age of Romanticism begins when the United States has established itself as a nation and has time to think romantically.

  A.  The nation has settled into statehood with a Constitution and an established   
  elected government.

B.  Suppression, war, and even mere survival are not problems that force people to look for answers from God or from a practical, logical look at the world around them.

C.  Thus, people have time to turn to their imaginations to analyze their situations.

    1.  Instead of the need for instantaneous answers, there is a time for  
     reflection on why things are the way they are.

2.  People are looking for a way to understand their world, the supernatural, and their relationship to the supernatural.

3.  The search in this instance is internal.

 D.  What people learned from the Age of Reason is that reason couldnít answer all the 
 questions, define all the unknowns, such as evil, madness, and magic.