After the Revolutionary War, there were dramatic political, economical, and social changes. Due to these changes, a sense of nationalism developed. There were great changes in literature as well. There was a shift from Classicism, which emphasized emotions and the individual. Authors of the early 1800's used an interest in the past, deeper aspects of human psychology, and a faith in nature to express the ideals of Romantic literature.
An interest in the past was one Romantic characteristic used by authors of the early 1800's, Washington Irving is an excellent example of this. In his story, "The Devil and Tom Walker," he states, "Everyone remembers the time of Governor Belcher when money was particularly scarce" ("Irving" 133). It is evident that Irving uses the past to add believability to his tale. Since Governor Blecher was an actual governor of Massachusetts, this lends credibility to the story. .
Another author who uses an interest in the past is Edgar Allen Poe. In the poem "To Helen",Poe states, " To the glory that was Greece, and the grandeur that was Rome" ("To Helen" 183). In this example Poe is using the beauty of the past nations of Greece and Rome to add imagery that corresponds with the beauty he sees in Helen. Also, in the story, " The Masque of the Red Death", the title in its self is a form of the past that is renamed. Poe got his inspiration from the Black Death, a plague which killed millions of Europeans. .
In addition to this, Romantic literature was not only based on the past, but also deeper aspects of human psychology. Poe is an exquisite example of how psychology is used in his stories. In "The Fall of the House of Usher," Poe states, " and in her violent and now final death agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the terrors he had anticipated" (The Fall of the House of Usher" 172). In this instance Rodrick Usher felt that his sister was the cause of the disturbing things that had happened to him.