Romanticism was a reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment (the 18th-century philosophy that emphasized reason over emotion).
Romanticism was an expression of individualism and a reaction against social rules and conventions. The Romantics believed that human beings were inherently good but that society had corrupted them with rules and laws. They thought people should follow their own emotions rather than blindly following rules set by others. And they also believed that people should be free to express themselves however they wanted without fear of being criticized or punished for doing so.
Romanticism in literature emerged in part as a reaction against Neoclassicism—a style of writing that emphasized rationality, orderliness, and structure. Neoclassical authors such as Alexander Pope wrote poetry that was tightly structured with rhyming schemes that were easily memorized. In contrast, Romantic poets preferred to write longer poems without rhyme schemes or regular meter patterns; they also frequently used metaphors and other figures of speech to express complex ideas or emotions through associations with nature or religion rather than relying on direct statements about those topics (as Neoclassicists did).
Romanticism began during a time of political upheaval in Europe: the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), the French Revolution (1789–1799) and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815). Some notable Romantic poets include Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley and Keats.