Romanticism and nature are connected because the artists and philosophers of the romantic period emphasized the glory and beauty of nature, and the power of the natural world. Some scholars of romanticism believe that the romanticists treated nature in an almost religious way. Reasons for the development of this strong connection between nature and romanticism include the Industrial Revolution, which led many people to leave rural areas and live in cities, separated from the natural world. In addition, during the 18th and 19th centuries when romanticism was popular, large areas of European and North American wilderness had been tamed, so that it had become generally much safer for people to travel into these areas and observe their natural wonders. The connection between romanticism and nature may have also risen in part as a backlash against the scientific emphasis of enlightenment philosophy, and against the cultural norms of that period.
Many romanticist artists, writers, and philosophers believe in the natural world as a source of healthy emotions and ideas. By contrast, the emerging urban, industrialized world was often portrayed as a source of unhealthy emotions, morals, and thoughts. Romanticists such as Henry David Thoreau believed that humans were meant to live in the world of nature, rather than the urban world. The connection between Romanticism and nature was largely formed with this core concept that man's true self can be found in the wilderness, rather than in the city.
The connection between romanticism and nature strengthened with the idealization of folk cultures and customs. Improvisation and spontaneity in art, music, and literature became more widely acceptable. Many works of the romantic period emphasize the oneness of humanity with the natural world, as opposed to many earlier schools of art and philosophy. These earlier schools of thought typically held humanity to be separate from and often aloof from the natural world. While romanticism elevated the connection with nature to an almost religious level, giving it morally edifying and desirable attributes, earlier schools of philosophical thought often ascribed base, evil qualities to the natural world.
Writers and artists of the romantic period typically rely heavily on natural imagery in their work. These artists and writers use scenes and images from the natural world to spark the imagination of their audience. Work of the romantic period often bears hints of introspection and a search for self or identity. Romanticism generally places a heavy emphasis on the emotions inspired by the beauty of the natural world.