The Romantic period began in Europe at the end of the 18th century and lasted through the middle of the 19th century. Romantic literature stresses imagination over reason, rules and facts, so you should choose a thesis that focuses on how Romanticism ushered in new ideals and emotion-based themes. Use examples of literary works by Romantic-era authors to support your views.
Characteristics of Romantic Literature
Develop a thesis that focuses on specific characteristics of Romantic literature, such as its shift away from realism toward idealism, the role nature played in stories and poems or the portrayal of passion, love and sex in Romantic literary works. For example, a thesis might be, "Romantic radicalism brought about new literary themes, as evidenced in literary works by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Percy Bysshe Shelley," suggests Kenneth McNeil, English professor at Eastern Connecticut State University. Include specific literary works or authors from that era to support your thesis.
Comparisons Between Literary Works
Compare the themes, characters, settings and moods in various Romantic stories or poems. For example, you might compare the themes and characters in "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne to those in "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe. Or, you might compare "Moby Dick" by Herman Melville with Poe's "Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket." Focus on similarities between the literary works, such as the authors' respect for primitive lifestyles, the value of the common man and themes about individualism and freedom from oppression, suggests Donna Smith, English professor at Odessa College in Texas.
Role of Women in Romantic Literature
Discuss the changing role of women in Romantic literature and the rise of female authors such as Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen, recommends Stephen Behrendt, English professor at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Explain how women's roles changed during the Romantic period as they became more independent, including how they struggled to find their places in marriage and in the family. Use characters such as Catherine Earnshaw in "Wuthering Heights" by Bronte or Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen to support your thesis.
Historical and Cultural Considerations
Create a thesis that explains how historical and cultural factors influenced Romantic-period literature. For example, you might discuss ways the Industrial Revolution, the second Great Awakening, abolitionism or discussion about women's suffrage affected writers' views of society and human nature. Or, you might discuss why themes such as the beauty of nature, the innocence of childhood, the corruption of adulthood, the importance of human emotion and romantic desire permeated literature during that time. Use literary works by Hans Christian Andersen, John Keats, Lord Byron, Walter Scott and Charles Lamb to back your viewpoints.