Dark Romantics in English Literature – Meaning & Characteristics


The Dark Romantics were a group of poets who emerged during the 19th century. An extension of the Romantic Poets, these Dark Romantics, true to their name, explored the darker aspects of human beings, even while retaining some of the core features of Romanticism. 

Characteristics of the Dark Romantics

Gothic Elements

Dark Romantics often indulged in gothic elements. They were fascinated by the supernatural and incorporated mysterious and eerie elements in poetry. 

The Human Psyche

Dark Romantics also extensively explored the human psyche. As mentioned above, they explored the darker side of human beings such as sin, guilt, madness, decadence and death. 


The portrayal of nature by the Dark Romantics was again dark and disturbing. As opposed to how the Romantics viewed Nature as a nurturer and teacher filled with beauty, these poets represented nature as a symbol of evil and vicious forces of the world.

Dark Romantics Major Poets List and Their Important Works

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hawthorne is one of the most important members of the Dark Romantics. His works “The Scarlet Letter” and “Young Goodman Brown” delve into the dark themes of humanity mentioned above. 

Edgar Allan Poe

Poe is renowned for his exploration of the dark side of human beings and supernatural elements. His perhaps most noted work “The Raven” stands as testimony to this fact. His short story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, for instance, delves into the issue of insanity and guilt.

Herman Melville

Melville too is a prominent member of this group. His magnum opus “Moby Dick” has streaks of darkness and is a tale of revenge and vengeance. 


Dark Romantics were thus a counter-movement to the positivity and optimism exuded by the Romantics. They were especially important for the development and progress of American literature in exploring the human mind and darker aspects of life previously left untouched.