Reality Of Romanticism And Realism Under The Umbrella Of Gothic Genre

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Two of the most common genres of writing that is found in literature belongs to either the Romanticism movement or the Realist/Naturalism movement. While these two movements might seem like they are related to each other, they are very opposite from one another in the sense that the Realism and Naturalism genre developed in response to the Romanticism genre. In the story Young Goodman Brown, the reader can see ideas that are strong and prominent with the Romantic and Gothic genre, and in the story The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the reader can easily tell that it belongs in the Realist and Naturalism genre because of its literary elements. While the Romanticism movement focused heavily on religion, imagination, and a person’s own emotions, the Realism and Naturalism movement brought about the representation of reality and showed that humans have more control over their own life than they were believed to have had before.

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Although Romanticism and Realism may seem like they have a lot in common they have a lot of big differences. In an article titled “Introduction: Edgy Romanticism”, the author makes the statement, “The traditional boundaries of Romanticism – six male poets; the definite articles of Romantic image, imagination and ideology; an implicit focus on Englishness” (McInnes, Andrew, et al 113). This quote loosely defines what the Romanticism movement was about. It was about the simplicity of life, emotions, imagination, and religion. In the story of Young Goodman Brown, the main character struggles with his Puritan values and ultimately succumbs to his evil subconscious. In the story, one of the main settings and symbols is the forest. The forest represents an evil, supernatural place in which Young Goodman Brown struggles with his religion and morals. In Young Goodman Brown, the narrator makes this statement, “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting” (Hawthorne). This is giving insight to the fact that something supernatural had occurred in the forest, and that the character himself did not know if it was a real event or make believe. Authors in the Romanticism movement were using their imagination to write these stories, but they were also giving their characters their own imagination, which added another literary element to the writing itself.

Although romanticism created this almost magical fantasy world, the Realism and Naturalism movement came along and changed all of that. Realism and Naturalism is based more on reality, science, and human choice. In a Journal titled “Supernatural Realism: A Forum on Fiction a Forum on Fiction”, the author makes the statement, “Realism has historically had very little to do with the supernatural, occult, and paranormal” (Smajic 1). In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the forest is a very realistic place unlike the forest in the story Young Goodman Brown. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain wrote, “So he watched out for me one day in the spring, and catched me, and took me up the river about three mile in a skiff, and crossed over to the Illinois shore where it was woody and there warn’t no houses but an old log hut in a place where the timber was so thick you couldn’t find it if you didn’t know where it was.” (Twain Ch. 6). Huck was kidnapped by his own father and taken into the woods along the river where no one would be able to find him. This is where Realism and Romanticism differ. While in Romanticism in Young Goodman Brown the forest was a supernatural, made up place in Young Goodman Brown’s subconscious, in Realism in the story The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the forest is a very real place where Huck was held hostage by his own father in a cabin deep in a real forest. The main reason why the Realism and Naturalism movement are different from the Romanticism that the Realist look at real life and do not just let imagination and religion dictate all of their writing.

Another thing that was a big difference between the two genres of writing was the evil that occurred in it and how the evil was handled. In the story Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne wrote, “With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind.” (Hawthorne). Young Goodman Brown knew that evil was in his mind and that he was going down an evil path and yet he still decided to go ahead and follow it anyway. Unlike Romanticism, the Realism movement used reality to decide how to handle evil situations. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell”—and tore it up” (Twain Ch. 31). Huck had just been presented with an evil in the story, and that evil was selling his friend Jim, who was a slave, for money. Huck decided that he would rather be a good person than take the money and that was the end of that and there was no second thought to it. The Realist movement focused more on the everyday lives of people and how not doing evil things could be good unlike the Romantics.

While the Romanticism and the Realism/ Naturalism movement are not that far apart time period, they are very far apart in ideology. The Romanticism movement focused on religion, imagination, and finding one’s emotion within themselves, and Realism movement focused on Reality and human choices. Important literary elements came out of the Romanticism movement; however they did portray reality. The Realism Movement was simply started because people needed to start seeing real life and not hide behind the mask the Romantics Created.

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