Romance is in the air

Jane-Austen-books-jane-austen-952951_1024_768Have you ever read a Jane Austen novel and then compared it to present day romanticism? Ever felt the difference? Difference in holding hands, promises, hugs and kisses? The fact remains that the novels written in different eras reflect the morsel of their times and present day romance is pretty different from the portrayal of romance in the classics.


romanticism (1)Romanticism, the literary movement traditionally dated 1798 to 1832 in England, affected all the arts through the nineteenth century. Many authors have been a part of this movement, namely Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, E.M. Forster, Gustav Flaubert, etc. These authors have formed the backbone of classical romance and taken the concept of romanticism in those times, to a whole new level. It has been a general trend that in classical romance, the protagonists are driven by irresistible passion–lust, curiosity, ambition, intellectual pride, envy. The emphasis is on their desire for transcendence, to overcome the limitations of the body, of society, of time rather than their moral transgressions. They yearn to escape the limitations inherent to life and may find that the only escape is death. The longings cannot be fulfilled in life. Death is not only a literal happening or plot device, but also and primarily a psychological concern. For the protagonists, death originates in the imagination, becomes a “tendency of mind,” and may develop into an obsession.

As in Gothic fiction, buildings are central to meaning; the supernatural, wild nature, rom-to-mod-lgdream and madness, physical violence, and perverse sexuality are set off against social conventions and institutions. Endings are disquieting and unsatisfactory because the writer resists a definitive conclusion, one which accounts for all loose ends and explains away any ambiguities or uncertainties. The preference for open-endedness is, ultimately, an effort to resist the limits of time and of place. That effort helps explain the importance of dreams and memories of other times and location.

While part of this romanticism still persists, contemporary novels are based largely on soft kissing, toe curling, melting and branding romance. It is no longer about defying or breaking social barriers, but 8194006_f260taking pleasure in the feeling love and pursuing it, if it is true. It is also about passion, fights, hurt feelings and unattainability. In the midst of this clamour, it is also about sacrifice wherein even women are depicted in a different manner, where their work is not only having babies and looking after the household work, but also about being independent and having a career to themselves, while still loving. The present day love has also been linked to supernaturalism, with the release of numerous vampire novels. The pillars of the present day romanticism are Nicholas Sparks, Stephenie Meyer,Stephenie Meyer and many others.

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Arjita Bhan

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