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The Romantic era of literature began in the second half of the 18th Century. It was an articulate, complex movement with its principal focus being a rebellion against the social views of the “age of enlightenment”. Romanticism revolted against the aristocratic social and political norms of the time, particularly those entrenched in Western Europe. It attempted to reject scientific rationalisation and the socially acceptable 'elegant but artificial way’ of looking at the world. In essence, Romantic writers and artists sought to free their works from the constraints of reason and logic.
Romantic works are characterized by individualism, a focus on the visionary and subjective aspects of being, as well as a stress on the power of emotion taking precedence over rationality. Romantic literature was not monolithic in nature and therefore it developed in various stages and movements. The Victorian romance movement of the mid to late 19th Century saw a fascination for the exotic and folklore. This developed into an increased celebration of nature in its wildest form.
Romanticism in many ways gave birth to the Gothic novel. Both Gothic literature and Romantic works share similar characteristics. One can argue that Gothic literature is simply an extension of Romanticism for both movements challenge the precepts of order, balance, idealisation, logic and morality. Gothic literature rejects the notion that the world and its inhabitants could be understood on the basis of reason alone and the Gothic style also deals with the consequences of abandoning traditional beliefs, the dangers of female sexuality and explores the darker side of human nature. The close link between the two movements is most prevalent in the Gothic novels of the late 19th century; Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” being one example.

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