Paper Example. Differences Between the Age of Discovery and the Romantic Era

Published: 2023-05-01
Paper Example. Differences Between the Age of Discovery and the Romantic Era
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Religion Art American literature
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 954 words
8 min read

The Age of Discovery was a period that occurred in the early 15th to the 17th century, where European travelers traveled around the world to explore new trading routes and conquer new lands for political jurisdiction (Arnold, 2). The Romantic era occurred from about 1780-1832. It was characterized by emotional, artistic, and intellectual movements that focused on individual gratification (Kitson, 1). It also happened as a reaction to the industrial revolution, the Age of Enlightenment, and scientific rationalization. Understanding these periods will involve analysis and juxtaposition of subject matter, religious inclination, and styles of literature in these periods.

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The first difference in the periods was driven by the activities that occurred in each period. The age of discovery occurred when there were extensive efforts by the Europeans to discover the areas of the world that were previously unknown to them (Arnold, 42). By the time the Romantic period came around, the political landscape was such that there was widespread upheaval and social revolts such as the American and French Revolutions. As stated by Kitson, there was the occurrence of "the American and French Revolutions, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, the prosecution and criticism of the transatlantic slave trade, the Great Reform Act of 1832, the Industrial Revolution" which all influenced literature (1).

The variations in the two periods also arose from the subject matter of the literature. It is highlighted that the literature in the Age of Discovery was centered more on science and the discovery of new lands, as opposed to the romantic period when the primary subject matter was a reverence to nature and the beauty of nature (Fulford, 6). The literature in the age of discovery revolved around science and overseas exploration and discussion of the way of life of people in the newly discovered areas, as explained by Arnold (12). The literature in the age of discovery was partly contributed to by poets and travelers who had experienced the vastness of the world and revealed it to the people through writings. "One of the most common forms of writing to emerge from the European encounter with the Americas was travel or exploration narratives" (Gottesman, 71). It is important to note that the age of discovery coincided with part of the pre-romantic age and was mostly in the Renaissance period of literature (Rasmussen, 10). The Renaissance period is associated with the renewed appreciation of intellectualism, learning, and art. It is also the period in literature in which science took precedent in literature, leading to a scientific revolution such as the Copernican theory (Hayden, 22). More information was spread as a direct result of the revolution of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, resulting in further interest in science and intellectualism (Rasmussen, 24).

The Romantic period's subject matter was focused on nature and the beauty of nature. There are overlaps with the neoclassical period which came before, but the conspicuous ideas of the beauty of nature were observed in this period (Fulford, 13). The themes that were expressed showed a yearning for exploring the unseen and a love for the beauty of nature. The major works of poetry in this period aimed to appreciate the mystery of creation through introspection, as explained by Kelly (42). In the age of romanticism, there was far greater employment of the imaginary experience, which was mostly inspired by nature or the beauty of nature.

The theme of religion also changes over these two ages. In the age of discovery, religion is viewed staunchly. The authority of the church and God as a deity isn't challenged. The act that started in the 1880s out of the fear of immigrants from other states into Rome had nothing good to offer to the population at the time. Punishment to vagrants that was set to 90 days in prison and a fine, of not less $500 in itself heightened levels of impunity to the county dwellers. Religion also plays a significant role in conquering colonies. It is evident when Christopher Columbus quotes, "I humbly pray Your Highnesses that if it pleases God to bring me forth from this place, that you will be pleased to permit me to go to Rome and to other places of pilgrimage" (Kagan et al. 65). Instead of asking the king out of reason, he considers God's opinion over his wellbeing.


The age of discovery resulted in an astronomical increase in knowledge about the world, especially for the Europeans. This situation impacted literature because it included sentiments about discovery. Furthermore, it incorporated the Renaissance period that focused on art, intellectualism, and scientific revolution. The age of discovery later gave way to the neoclassical age, which happened in the pre-romantic period. Religion was also a primary driver of ideology in the age of Discovery, and less so in the other ages that came after. The romantic period, on the other hand, resulted in an increase in focus on introspection and emotions that were based on nature and appreciation of the beauty of nature. In the romantic age, literature hinged on imagination and feelings that developed from imagination, and this was different from the previous periods, including the Age of Discovery.

Works Cited

Arnold, David. The Age of Discovery, 1400-1600. Psychology Press, 2002.

Fulford, Tim, et al. Literature, science, and exploration in the Romantic era: bodies of Knowledge. Vol. 60. Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Gottesman, Ronald, et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Norton, 1979.

Hayden, Judy A., ed. Literature in the age of celestial discovery: from Copernicus to Flamsteed. Springer, 2016.

Kagan, Donald M., et al. Western Heritage, The, Volume 1. Vol. 1. Pearson Higher Ed, 2012.

Kelly, Gary. English fiction of the Romantic Period 1789-1830. Routledge, 2016.

Kitson, Peter J. "The Romantic period, 1780-1832." English Literature in Context (2008): 306-402.

Rasmussen, Mark, ed. Renaissance Literature and Its Formal Engagements. Springer, 2016.

Gottesman, Ronald, et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Norton, 1979.

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