Critical Essays Scott's Use of Romanticism


Since Scott's writings are historical romances, romanticism and history are hardly separable. His passion for places made it easy for him to romanticize the events that took place there. In regard to his poem, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, in which romanticism is said to have arrived, Henry Beers expresses the wish that "Collins and Tom Wharton might have lived to hail it as the light at last, towards which they had struggled through the cold obstruction of the eighteenth century. One fancies Dr. Johnson's disgust over this new monstrosity which had every quality he disliked except blank verse; or Gray's delight in it, tempered by a critical disapproval of its loose construction and irregularity."

Scott was interested in superstition, which was in vogue in romantic literature, but only as a curiosity. Someone once said something to the effect that he saw too much daylight through the dark mysticism to be much affected by it. His use of superstition is certainly more romantic than with any intent to make it credulous.

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