Dark Romanticism a popular literary movement

Dark Romanticism

There are many literary movements that are applicable in literature. One of the most popular literary movements is called Dark Romanticism. What is Dark Romanticism? From a literary point of view, Dark Romanticism refers to a literary subgenre of Romanticism. It used to reflect the popular fascination with the grotesque, the irrational, and the demonic. Some people view dark romanticism as romanticism. However, in romanticism, values, emotions, and beliefs are more essential that facts and logic (Derek 45). Romanticism is different from Dark Romanticism in the sense that it emphasizes on sin and human fallibility. On the other hand, Romanticism is based on human goodness. Dark romantics argue that good people drift towards self-destruction and sin thereby causing unintended impacts that emerge from well-intended social reforms. Thus, the core purpose of this paper is to examine Dark Romanticism in terms of origin, literary movement, and analysis of at least five authors.

Origin of Dark Romanticism

Dark Romanticism is a literary movement genre that emerged in the 19th century from the Transcendental Movement in the United States of America. The initial idea of the Transcendental Movement embraces perfection and divinity as the core innate features of mankind. The idea was borrowed by Dark Romantics who associated humans gravitate to self-destruction and evil (Moores 45). Besides, the literary movement express many features of Realism where Dark Romantics aim at punishment, judgment, and self-destruction, psychological impacts of sin and guilt, and human fallibility.

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Authors of Dark Romanticism

Herman Melville
Herman Melville is a talented author who has written many novels expressing different literary movements. Mainly, Herman Melville has written novels such as “Moby-Dick” or “The Whale.” The novel is one of the most recognized literature that falls under Dark Romanticism literary movement. The author presents Captain Ahab as the prototype of human fallibility. He also draws upon amble Biblical allusions in the choice of his characters. In the novel “Moby-Dick”, the author uses the genre of Dark Romanticism to cater to different themes such as souls, sin, guilt, judgment, and the end of the world. Herman Melville is also recognized for his travel book “Bartleby the Scrivener” that also uses the genre of Dark Romanticism (Howard 94). Besides, the author is widely known for writing of man’s cruelty, defiance of God, and man’s blind ambition.
He also uses themes such as mystery, madness as well as the triumph of wrong over right in the two novels namely; “Moby-Dick” and “Bartleby the Scrivener.” These novels are the vivid examples where the literary movement of dark romanticism is used as a sub-genre of romanticism (Moores 78). This genre has been used by the author through a fictional form that probes psychological and metaphysical questions that culminate vividly in the novel “Moby-Dick.” The novel expresses thematic innovation that lacks precedent and can be examined as standing independent in the trenchant use of archetypes and symbols. The genre of dark romanticism in the novel is clear in the novel “Moby-Dick” because Melville uses monomaniacal quest and figurative exploration
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Just like Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for his literary works that use the genre of dark romanticism. One of the most popular works compiled by Nathaniel Hawthorne is “The Scarlet Letter” that exemplifies the genre of Dark Romanticism through themes of punishment and judgment to sinners (Hawthorne 42). These themes emerge as a result of self-destruction and alienation. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the story “Young Goodman Brown” to examine human morality and soul. The novel also appears as a cautionary tale that expresses the dangers of blind religious fervor and well-intended social reform. Initially, the author dappled in many literary movements such as Transcendentalism but in the end, he dappled in Dark Romanticism. Nathaniel Hawthorne is a popular dark romantic writer whose literary skills are connected to the American Transcendental movement.
Edgar Allan Poe
The author is the most recognized dark romantic writer in the history of dark romanticism movement. Main, Poe explored the concept of the subconscious mind and the psychology of the conscious mind. A perfect example that illustrates Poe’s ability to use the genre of dark romanticism is “A Descent into the Maelstrom.” The majority of work compiled by Edgar Allan Poe is on the dark end of the spectrum of dark romanticism (González-Rivas et al., 78). Mainly, his works fall into the realm of Gothic Fiction in line with tales of madness, morbidity, and horror. Another perfect example that used dark romanticism is the novel “The Fall of the House of Usher.” This piece of work deals with mental conditions like hyperesthesia and hypochondria.
Besides, Edgar Allan Poe has been credited for his ability to create a detective fiction genre that appears in “The Purloined Letter.” Initially, Edgar Allan Poe was recognized during the era of Romanticism but the majority of his poems focused on the genre of Dark Romanticism. In Dark Romanticism, Edgar Allan Poe was looking at the gothic fiction of stories and neglected the heroic fiction that focused more on the flaws of humans and death. He also used the genre of Dark Romanticism to focus on the evil aspect. The majority of his poems are aligned more in the dark romanticism rather than in the genre of Romanticism. His audience can see how he could have integrated his personal turmoil of his poems to Dark Romanticism.
Mainly, the genre of dark romanticism was presented by the University of Delaware’s library when it asserted, “Suffering for offenses against God, Man, and Nature, the hero-villains wander the earth, alone and misunderstood. Their personal torment in a vast universe is emphasized by desolate settings of icebound seas, jagged mountains, and bottomless abysses: imagery that would inspire artistic, literary, and musical compositions” (González-Rivas et al., 48). The majority of readers considers Edgar Allan Poe as a seminal dark romantic writer. Most of his works are embedded in dark romanticism because he disliked Transcendentalism movement.
The genre of dark romanticism is seen in much of his poetry works where Poe explores the psychology of man, the nature of subconscious and conscious mind, and self-destruction. The perfect examples of Allan’s dark romantic works are “The Raven,” “Ligeia,” “Ulalume,” and “The Fall of the House of Usher. Overall, Edgar Allan Poe used recurring themes to deal with many questions of death, mourning, the reanimation of the dead, concerns of premature burial, physical signs, and the effects of decomposition. All these themes are vested in the literary movement of dark romanticism.
Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson is a popular dark romantic author. She challenged the meaning of poetry to exemplify Dark Romanticism. Mainly, Emily Dickinson led an increasingly reclusive life characterized by severe depression. Some people may argue that she never expressed success during her lifetime but her creative energy in poetry was vested in the genre of dark romanticism. She acted as a dark romantic writer to fight conventions (Jackson 56). Her prolific writing enables to publish more than 1,800 poems where the majority of the poems expresses themes on dark romanticism. As a dark romantic writer, Emily Dickinson’s literary prowess set ablaze for women and other poets to follow.
Ugo Foscolo
He was born as Niccolo Foscolo who spent much of his life as a revolutionist, a poet, and as an Italian writer. Much of his works are based on the genre of dark romanticism. A perfect example is a poem called “Dei Sepolcri.” Just like other dark romantic authors, Ugo Foscolo had a groundwork of melancholic fact (Krämer 34). He has written books on self-destruction to express the genre of dark romanticism. Therefore, the majority of his literary works present the theme of self-destruction through suicidal thought. A perfect example the Ugo Foscolo uses the theme of self-destruction is “Cato the Younger.”


Overall, this paper has considered different aspects of the literary movement of dark romanticism. Typically, Dark Romanticism has to be presented as a genre that many authors use to reflect a popular fascination with the grotesque, the irrational, and the demonic. Although dark romanticism appears similar to romanticism, there are a few distinguishing features. The paper has also presented several authors of dark romanticism. Mainly, many authors are believed to have established the literary movement of Dark Romanticism. This paper has considered at least five authors who embraced this genre. The most popular authors of Dark Romanticism have been identified as Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ugo Foscolo. Thus, the paper has analyzed how each author embraced the literary movement of Dark Romanticism.

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