What are the elements of romance

Romanticism: definition, 4 motifs & 11 + 15 important representatives of the era

The Romantic era is dated from 1795 to 1835 and was shaped by literature, art, music and philosophy. In literature it even lasted until 1848. Learn everything about their historical background, typical features and motifs as well as classic representatives and their works from us.

Romanticism is an epoch from the end of the 18th century to around the middle of the 19th century. Compared to other epochs, it lasted quite a long time and is therefore in Early Romanticism, High Romanticism and Late Romanticism divided. In this article you will find out how this influential era developed and what effects it had.

Romance: A Definition

Generally speaking, the era of romanticism is emerging 1795 to 1835 dated. In literature it even lasted until 1848. Leitmotifs of this era are Love, longing, nature, the fantastic and the unconscious. Overall, the subjective perception of the individual in the focus of the arts, even if there is a general need for national consciousness, social community and popularity.

Historical background and epoch classification

Melancholy led to the Romantic era

The preceding epochs of Romanticism are the Renaissance (around 1300 - 1600), which Greek antiquity discovered for itself. The subsequent Enlightenment (1715 - 1789), on the other hand, focused on human reason. The Weimar Classicism (1786 - 1832) began immediately before the Romantic era, was in need of harmony and placed value on morality and humane behavior. It largely overlaps with romance.

Romanticism turned away from ancient Greece and the usual models of the classical period. She saw a need in that Turning to one's own culture, thus also to the sagas and myths of the Middle Ages. The place where nature was previously imitated (mimesis) has now been replaced by the Realization of the beautiful by the artist himself.

Industrialization and urbanization resolved melancholy because anonymity, inhuman behavior and poverty shaped everyday life. That prompted people to Escape into nature and the fantastic. Biedermeier, petty bourgeois, idyllic ideals emerged and people moved into the center of artistic interest.

Tripartite Romanticism

Immediately before the Romantic era, there was the time of Sturm und Drang (1765-1790)which is primarily associated with the works of Goethe, Schiller and Herder. During this time there was a literary rebellion against the previous Enlightenment. This viewed literature as a medium for education and enlightenment of the mind.

The movement of Sturm und Drang wanted, however artistic creation did not give up and therefore turned back to the Poetizing their environment to. This attitude also had an impact on romance. In the following you will find the exact timing of the great epoch of romanticism. It is divided into early romanticism, high romanticism and late romanticism.

Early Romanticism (around 1795 - 1804)

The early romanticism is also Jena romance called because their representatives were mainly in Jena. In the High Romantic period the point of view shifted to Heidelberg and in the late Romantic period to Berlin.

Important philosophers of early romanticism are Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Friedrich Schleiermacher. The brothers and theorists August Wilhelm Schlegel and Friedrich Schlegel published one of the most important magazines “Athenaeum” (1798 - 1800) and the poets Ludwig Tieck and Novalis also played an important role. The seal showed itself here open to new, held up no longer to classic form specifications and made use of a fragmentary form.

In Jena, the young writers met representatives of Weimar Classics such as Goethe and Schiller. There was an intensive exchange of views, contacts were made, friendships developed and with it the first beginnings of high romanticism.

High Romanticism (1804 - 1815)

Fairy tales created a connection to the past and culture

The high romance took place mainly in Heidelberg and is therefore often Heidelberg romance called. Here was the young generation of romantics. Achim von Arnim and Clemens Brentano published their “Zeitung für Einsiedler” in Heidelberg and worked on the folk song collection “Des Knaben Wunderhorn”.

Joseph von Eichendorff studied at Heidelberg University and Friedrich Hölderlin also spent a few years there. The brothers were also in contact with the Heidelberg Romantics Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm. The literature of high romanticism made it Task to rediscover German cultural assets. A good example are the “Children's and Household Tales”, which were published in 1812 and 1815 and contained orally transmitted cultural assets in the form of German fairy tales.

Late Romanticism (1816--1848)

The end of the Romantic era took place in Berlin and is frequent Berlin romance called. Berlin was not the only location, however. Vienna, Nuremberg, Karlsberg and Heidelberg continued to be locations for representatives of the Romanesque period.

This phase of Romanticism was concerned with the study of human emotions and the Depth of the soul. That also included dark and eerie tales. In addition, technical progress was always viewed critically and that Art fairy tale established itself as a genus. The art fairy tales by E. T. A. Hoffmann and the Danish art fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen were known in Germany.

Important motifs, symbols and facets in romanticism

The following motifs, symbols, and facets of Romanticism can relate to both literature and art. As a great and well-known era, you will probably encounter the typical hallmarks of Romanticism more often in German lessons or in humanities courses.

The blue flower

The blue flower - an important symbol of romance

The blue flower is an important symbol in the romantic era. she can love and nostalgia symbolize and for the pursuit of Understanding, infinity or stand on your own self. It is also a symbol of longing for distance and Wandering. The basic ideas of romanticism are summarized in the blue flower: Whoever experiences love in all its forms, also recognizes nature in its multitude of facets and thus ultimately himself.

Mostly the blue flower is one in German romanticism domestic cornflower (see picture), chicory or the so-called solstices (heliotrope at Novalis). Novalis was also the first to use this symbol in his fragment of the novel “Heinrich von Ofterdingen” (created in 1800). Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff wrote a poem with the title “The Blue Flower”. In this poem, the blue flower symbolizes that Happiness in life. The lyrical self dreams of this rare happiness and tries to find it in the world:

The blue flower

I'm looking for the blue flower
I search and never find
I dream that in the flower
My good luck blooms.

I wander with my harp
Through countries, cities and au’n,
Whether anywhere in the group
To look at the blue flower.

I've been wandering for a long time
I hoped for a long time, trusted
But oh, I haven't got anywhere yet
Looked at the blue blum.

(Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff: “The blue flower”, 1818)

the scary

The Creepy and the Numinose are also popular themes in romance. Often mirror motifs or doppelganger motifs are taken up here (especially with E. T. A. Hoffmann). The Brothers Grimm also hold on to some Horror tale the uncanny fest. For example, the fairy tale “From one who set out to learn to be afraid” deals with the search for and understanding of human fear. In the first edition it was still called “Gut Kegel- und Kartenspiel”.

Black romance

Motives of black romanticism: death, madness and the uncanny

The undercurrent Black Romanticism is called, among other things Horror romance and has rather melancholy and irrational traits. madness and the evil in humans become objects of fascination here. This fascination can be understood as a countermovement to the previous rational movement of the Enlightenment.

Artists and writers dealt with somber subjects such as death, the demonic, the sinister and Grotesques. Frequently were also morbid motives associated with sexuality. The Gothic Novel was also influenced by Black Romanticism in England. Horror literature emerged from it later in the 19th century.

Motifs of the Black Romanticism (selection):

Longing, window, wanderlust, wandering, wanderlust, sleepwalking, nature, night, walls, palaces and castles, mythical creatures, doppelgangers, alchemy, occultism, witchcraft, drugs, dream and reality, hysteria, madness, depression, melancholy, longing for death, decay, Death.

Middle Ages and Nationalism

There was a need for Escape from reality, the escape into private life and into the past. The turning away from the local reality as well as the desire for national consciousness and social community brought about one Idealization of the Middle Ages. Abuses of this time were not discussed.

Literature in Romanticism

In this chapter you will find everything you need to know about romantic literature. This includes the most important characteristics as well as representatives and works. The better you find out about the literary epoch, the better you will be able to carry out an analysis or give a presentation. Even while studying art, philosophy or German studies, you can still benefit from in-depth knowledge of romanticism.

Characteristics of romantic literature

Characteristics of romantic literature

Below is a list of the most important literary characteristics of romanticism. These include important topics, the breaking up of the usual forms, important terms, stylistic devices, the goal of romantic literature and an important undercurrent (black romanticism). Use the features to quickly recognize a text from the romantic era and to be able to analyze it better.


Here you will find important links for analyzing a text from the romantic era:

Tips on all kinds of formal texts
Novel analysis
Poetry analysis
Novella analysis
The main rhetorical means
Improve your writing style
Writing homework
Proper proofreading

  1. Important topics:
    The longing for the absolute, which can never be reached, and alienation (naive understanding of the world); Feelings, love, subjectivity and the unconscious come to the fore; the psyche of the human being is illuminated (also its dark side). More on this in the next chapter.
  2. Shape:
    There is no longer any given, classic form: songs, stories, fairy tales and poems are mixed together just like poetry, science and philosophy.
  3. Important term:
    Universal progressive poetry - Friedrich Schlegel coined this term and meant that there should no longer be any concrete schemes for literature, one should regard the artist as a free genius and the artistic medium as the playing field for his genius. The literary unity of space, time and plot is canceled, a fragmentary character emerges with breaking off storylines.
  4. Important stylistic devices:
    Romantic irony - There are self-references to the work in order to generate ironic-comic moments. Moods and stories can end abruptly with the intervention of the author.
    Stream of thoughts - A fragmentary, subjective way of writing creates the impression of an authentic flow of thoughts.
  5. Aim of romantic literature:
    The pursuit of infinity and depth, meaning and authenticity by resorting to a non-technical world (Middle Ages and Germanic peoples). The collection of fairy tales (“Children's and Household Tales” by the Brothers Grimm) and folk songs (“Des Knaben Wunderhorn” by Brentano and Arnim) corresponds to the longing for national feeling, culture and identity.
  6. Black romance:
    This literary tendency within Romanticism deals in particular with the abysses of the human soul, with the night, the uncanny, and criminality.

Representatives and works of romantic literature

Novalis was an important proponent of romanticism

Romanticism is considered to be one of the greater eras that took place in many different countries. In the literature in particular there are many important representatives who co-founded and recorded this epoch and its zeitgeist. First you will find well-known German representatives and some of their works. Afterwards we also have some writers from all over the world for you.

Representatives and plants from Germany

  1. Novalis (1772 - 1801, German early Romantic writer, philosopher)
    Lamentations of a youth (poetry, 1791)
    Hymns to the night (lyric, 1800)
    Heinrich von Ofterdingen (fragment of a novel, 1802)
  2. Friedrich Schlegel (1772–1829, German cultural philosopher, writer, literary and art critic, historian and classical philologist)
    Critical fragments ("Lyceums" fragments, 1797)
    Lucinde (1799)
    About Goethe's Master (1798)
    On the language and wisdom of the Indians (1808)
  3. Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853, German poet, writer, editor and translator of the Romantic period)
    Puss in Boots (Comedy, 1797)
    The Scholar (Novella, 1827)
  4. E. T. A. Hoffmann (1776 - 1822, German writer, lawyer, composer, conductor, music critic, draftsman and caricaturist.)
    The golden pot (art fairy tale, 1814)
    The Sandman (from: Nachtstücke 1815/16)
    Klein Zaches called Zinnober (1819)
    Princess Brambilla (1820)
  5. Friedrich de la Motte-Fouqué (1777 - 1843, German romantic poet)
    Undine (1811)
  6. Clemens Brentano (1778 - 1842, German writer of the Heidelberg Romanticism)
    The Spinner Night Song (poetry, around 1802)
    Des Knaben Wunderhorn (folk song collection in three volumes with Achim von Arnim, from 1806)
  7. Karoline von Günderrode (1780 - 1806, German romantic poet)
    Poems, prose, letters (Ed. By Hannelore Schlaffer, 1998)
  8. Achim von Arnim (1781 - 1831, German writer of the Heidelberg Romanticism)
    Des Knaben Wunderhorn (folk song collection in three volumes with Clemens Brentano, 1805, 1806 and 1808)
    The Three Loving Sisters and the Happy Dyer (1812)
  9. Bettina von Arnim (1785 - 1859, German romantic writer)
    Goethe's correspondence with a child (1835)
    The Günderode (1840)
  10. Joseph Freiherr von Eichendorff (1788 - 1857, German poet and romantic writer)
    The two journeymen (poem, 1818)
    The marble picture (fairytale novella, 1819)
    Divining rod (poem, 1835)
    From the life of a good-for-nothing (novella, 1826)
  11. Wilhelm Hauff (1802–1827, German romantic writer)
    The story of little Muck (art fairy tale, 1825)
    The dwarf's nose (fairy tale, 1826)
    Lichtenstein (novel in 3 volumes, 1826)

Representatives and plants from all over the world

Another representative of romanticism: Jane Austen

  1. William Wordsworth (1770-1850, British poet)
    "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" (poem, 1804)
    "The Thorn" (poem, 1798)
  2. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772 - 1843, English poet, critic and philosopher)
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Ballad, 1798)
  3. Jane Austen (1775-1817, British writer)
    Mind and Feeling (Roman, 1811)
    Pride and Prejudice (Roman, 1813)
    Emma (novel, 1816)
  4. Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822, British writer)
    The necessity of atheism (essay, 1809)
    Ozymandias (poem, 1818)
  5. Charlotte Brontë, Pseudonym: Currer Bell (1816-1855, British writer)
    Jane Eyre. To Autobiography. (1847)
  6. Walter Scott (1771-1832, Scottish poet, writer, publisher and literary critic)
    Ivanhoe. A Romance (Roman, 1819)
  7. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882, American philosopher and writer)
    Nature (1836)
  8. Edgar Allan Poe (1809--1849, American writer)
    The Raven (poem, 1845)
    The Fall of the House of Usher (short story, 1839)
  9. Victor Hugo (1802-1885, French writer)
    Notre Dame de Paris (1831, German: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame)
    Les Misérables (1862, German: Die Elenden)
  10. Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin (1799 - 1837, Russian national poet)
    Ruslan and Lyudmila (poem, 1820)
    The Captain's Daughter (Roman, 1836)
  11. Nikolai Wassiljewitsch Gogol (1809 - 1852, Russian writer of Ukrainian origin)
    The Nevsky Prospect (novella, 1835)
    The nose (novella, 1836)
  12. Alessandro Manzoni (1785 - 1873, Italian poet and writer)
    Storia della Colonna Infame (1842, German: Die Schandsäule)
  13. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836 - 1870, one of the most famous authors of Spanish Romanticism)
    Los ojos verdes (legend, 1861, German: The green eyes)
  14. Juliusz Słowacki (1809 - 1849, one of the most important representatives of Polish Romanticism)
    Maria Stuart (drama 1830, first performed 1862)
    Wacław (Versepos, 1838)
  15. Elias Lönnrot (1802 - 1884, Finnish writer, philologist and doctor)
    Kalevala (National Epic, 1835)
    Kanteletar (song collection, 1840)

Examples of romantic poems

Examples of romantic poems

The following poems are great for practicing. Typical texts from the Romantic era mostly follow similar characteristics. So the more you practice doing an analysis with them, the faster you will succeed in exam situations. Especially in school, poems or other short texts are often used for analysis. Here you will find more romantic poems that do not all belong to the epoch, but reflect their reverberations very well.

Poems by Clemens Brentano


Spring should look sweet
delight me
and enrapture,
Summer me with fruit and myrtle
to entertain richly,
girdle gladly.
Autumn, you should honor me household,
to do without
to desire
and you winter teach me to die
spoil me
Inherit spring.


Love night in the grove

The holy rustling of the forest night around us
And the bushes' prayer in the evening
I see you listening so dearly,
When the west blows through dry leaves.

And it's so cozy then, so quiet
When her tender arm wraps me tightly
And a single loving will
The twin pair of souls permeates.

Banned tightly to you, lost in you,
I count on the beat of your heart
Stammering love every step of the hearing.
The young day kisses us parting.


Do you hear the fountain rushing
Do you hear the cricket chirping?
Silence, silence, let's listen
Blessed is he who dies in dreams.
Blessed are those whom the clouds weigh
To whom the moon sings a lullaby
Oh how blissfully he can fly
Whose dream swings its wing
That on a blue sky
He picks stars like flowers:
Sleep, dream, fly, I wake up
Up soon and be happy.


Poems by Joseph von Eichendorff


Market and streets are deserted
Every house lights up silently,
I am thinking through the streets
Everything looks so festive.

At the windows have women
Colorful toys piously adorned,
A thousand little children stand and look
Are so wonderfully happy.

And I'm walking out of the walls
To the open field
Noble shine, holy shudder!
How vast and calm the world!

Stars high up the circles,
From the solitude of the snow
It rises like wonderful singing -
O you gracious time!



The forest is already rustling in the evening
For the deep reasons
The Lord will soon be up there
To ignite the stars
How so quiet in the gullies
In the evening only the forest rustles.

Everything goes to its rest,
The forest and the world go down,
The wanderer listens with a shudder
Longs for home
Here in the green hermitage of the forest
Heart, finally go to rest too!



The stars seemed so golden
At the window I stood lonely
And heard from a long way off
A post horn in the quiet land.
The heart burned out of me in the body,
I secretly thought:
Oh, who could travel with you
In the glorious summer night!

Two young journeymen went
Past the mountain slope
I heard them sing as I wandered
Along the quiet area:
From dizzying rock crevices,
Where the woods rustle so softly
From sources that from the clefts
Rush into the forest night.

They sang of marble pictures
Of gardens that rise above the rock
Run wild in dusky arbors,
Palaces in the moonlight,
Where the girls listen at the window
When the loud sound awakens
And the fountains rustle sleepily
In the glorious summer night. -

Romance in art (painting)

Romance in art

Similar to literature, motifs such as longing, Wanderlust, Homesickness, the uncanny, landscapes and traveling (wanderings). As the main representative Caspar David Friedrich viewed. One of his best-known and most representative paintings is “Wanderer above the Sea of ​​Fog”, which was created in 1818/19. He also painted other typically romantic motifs such as “Boy sleeping on a grave” (around 1801), “Landscape with a bridge” (around 1800) or “Eldena ruins with a burial” (around 1802/03). Would you also like to learn to paint? Here are tips for getting started.

Romance in music

The main quality of music in the Romantic era, as in other arts, is that Emphasis on the feeling. There is also a parallel to the dissolution of form in music, literature and painting. Folk music and harmonic sounds also correspond to the general one Need for the past, identity and escape from reality.

Romantic music can also be divided into early romanticism, high romanticism and late romanticism. Ludwig van Beethoven's works mark the transition from Weimar Classic to Romanticism. A classic representative of early romanticism is Franz Schubert. In the High Romantic period, Frédéric Chopin created unknown representations of feelings in music.

Robert Schumann, on the other hand, is a rather tragic-romantic musician. Richard Wagner also took up the Romantic program and wrote corresponding operas. In late Romanticism the usual forms are no longer observed and gave the songs more emotionality and expressiveness.

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