Romanticism period emerged during (1830 -1865). Romanticism period was also known as American Renaissance. It was the movement where literature focused on individualism, imagination, and intuition. At this time, human became the center of life and art. While making literature, the writers emphasized the value of human feeling, expression, and attitude. There was a movement within this period called Transcendentalism. It was a philosophical movement, that believed “every individual carries the universe within himself and is entitled to his own relationship with spirituality” (Emerson, 1836) and the most influential Transcendentalist was Ralph Waldo Emerson. At this time also emerged the dark romanticism. The characteristics of dark romanticism were: the use of creepy symbol, horrific themes and psychological effect of guilt. The symbol used to represent something else. For example: the raven used as a symbol of death and darkness.
B. Popular Writers
1). Washington Irving
Washington Irving was known as the father of American short stories. He had a great sense of humor and he inserted it into his work. He composed a collection of his stories that became The Sketch Book. His best short stories were “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”
2). Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American poet, essayist, and philosopher. He was born on May 25, 1803, in Boston, Massachusetts. The Emerson’s first book entitled Nature (1836) was the best expression of his work about Transcendentalism. In Nature, Emerson wrote about the extraordinary power of nature. It emphasized the importance of living in harmony with nature.
2. The Period of Realism
A. Social Background
Middle of the 19th century was the transition period from romanticism to realism period which happened during the American Civil War. This period was a revolution period because there was a reaction against the Romanticism period. This period emphasized the objective rather than the idealistic view of human thought and human nature. Therefore, the writers’ interest of this period was about the realities of life, daily activity and everything that happened in the real life instead of wrote about fiction story. There were several literature characteristics in this period, such as it focused on character and motivation rather than action, the use of natural language and the story was presented objectively.
B. Popular Writers
1). William Dean Howells
William Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837. He was well known as an editor, American realist novelist, playwright, and literary critic. His name was also known as “The Dean of American Letters”. He became an important writer in this era because of his prolific writings, editor, and novels. He wrote a campaign biography about Abraham Lincoln, he became an editor of The Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s Magazine, and his famous novels entitled Christmas Every Day and The Rise of Silas Lapham.
2). Henry James
Henry James was born on April 15, 1843, in New York, U.S. He was an excellent short story writer. In his works, he emphasized the internal states of mind and social dynamics of the character. The American, The Portrait of a Lady, The Spoils of Poynton, What Maisie Knew, The Wings of the Dove, The Ambassadors. and The Golden Bowl were the masterpieces of Henry James.