Romanticism Versus Enlightenment

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/delacroix-paganini1_7610.jpg
http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ingres-paganini2_9075.jpg
Two portraits of Italian violinist Paganini, top by Delacroix, bottom by Ingres

"One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can."
William Wordsworth, for team Romanticism

"People aren't going to change, for better or for worse. Technology's going to be so cool. All in all, the future will be okay!" note 
Randall Munroe, for team Enlightenment

Some Eighteenth century people believed that reason and science are good and therefore things would just go on improving forever. This optimism characterized a period that came to be known as the Age of Enlightenment. At the end of this period, mass movements in America and France, and the Industrial Revolution in England, changed the world forever, making people realize that society in the 19th Century was the first that could concieve itself to be radically different from the past. This led to a sense of disillusionment and alienation began to spread, and the Romanticist movement rose up as a backlash. Romanticists believed that the advances made by the Enlightenment were creating an oppressive, and conformist society - and that science and rationality could never hope to truly understand the world and the human personality and that the modern world's progress came at the price of cherished values from the distant past which was slowly dying out. Though the Enlightenment and Romanticist movements are long gone, the general ideas behind each - the dialectic, if you will - survives to this present day.

Romantic and Enlightened themes are very common in fiction. For example, Enlightenment-flavored science fiction might portray the future as a world of progress, friendship, brotherhood and Crystal Spires and Togas, with barbaric forces threatening the new utopia (e.g. Star Trek). Romanticist-themed science fiction might portray the future as an unpleasant Crapsack World, with high technology but low social quality, full of depression, dehumanization and alienation (e.g. everything Cyberpunk) with the happy souls being those who escaped to the countryside, if possible (e.g. We).

Note that 'enlightened' used in such context, is sometimes a loaded word, often used to indicate a higher or better state or level of understanding. In this context the 'enlightened' approach isn't intrinsically better, just as it isn't intrinsically worse - it's a different way of approaching a concept that utilises different methods and produces different results. Romanticism and Enlightenment are also tied to the Dionysian (wild, visceral, ornate) and Apollonian (restrained, cerebral, classicist) ideals of Nietzschean aesthetics in the arts. Compare the Apollonian/Enlightenment style of Neo-Classicism with the Dionysian/Romantic neo-Gothic revival, or, say, the Apollonian/Enlightenment style of Stanley Kubrick with the Dionysian/Romantic style of Steven Spielberg.

Bear in mind that contemporary invocations of the Enlightenment and Romanticist theme does not quite conform to the original Englightenment and Romanticist movements. The works of Rousseau, Voltaire, Locke, Hume, Wordworth, Byron, Keats and Shelley have greater instances of continuity, Unbuilt Trope and nuance than the modern perception of that era. The general perception is that writers and artists gravitate towards Romanticism, while scientists favor the Enlightenment. Polticians (in most places) favor the Enlightenment while appealing to Romantic sentiments of nationalism, traditions (real and invented) and culture. Seeing as Most Writers Are Writers, Romanticism is generally overrepresented in media, with the exception of Science Fiction writers (and even there most well-known classics usually have a Romanticist message).

Compare to: Character Alignment,Mother Nature, Father Science, Elves vs. Dwarves,Emotions vs. Stoicism, Harmony Versus Discipline, Magic Versus Science, Nature vs. Nurture, Soldier VS Warrior, Technician vs. Performer.

Teams:

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    Team Enlightenment 

Tropes usually associated with Enlightenment:

  • A Lighter Shade of Black or the Anti-Villain: Enlightenment villains will usually be misguided in their goals or have their ways be a product of society. Villains are not inherently evil in Enlightenment works.
  • Ancient Greece: Resulting in more sandpapering off of its traits than usual. It was during this period, however, that philosopher Giambattista Vico argued against glorifying Ancient Greece and Rome, pointing out they were diverse and complex societies, whose values were totally alien to medieval man, leave alone early modern man.
  • Androids Are People, Too: Based on the general idea that "The whole is the sum of its parts"; human intelligence, like all other aspects of existence, can (eventually) be artificially replicated.
  • Art Deco: Mostly of its progressive, Euclidean and futuristic appearance.
  • Black and White Insanity: Enlightenment stories will almost never feature a clear battle of good and evil, viewing such a stance on conflict as childish. If Rousseau Was Right, then the villain ought to have numerous redeemable traits. If Hobbes Was Right, then the heroes themselves will have some moral ambiguity as well to preserve order and progress.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Bureaucracy isn't actively corrupt or malicious, simply overworked.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: Societies with this aesthetic are usually high-tech utopias, with the togas alluding to the Classical society that the Enlightenment saw as its role model.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Every event has a cause that can be explained by the interaction of fundamental laws of the universe, even if it seems "magical" because we don't know what all those laws or interactions are.
  • The Dung Ages: The belief that the Middle Ages is dysfunctional compared to modern day.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: Doing good things for others can be good for your own agenda.
  • Evil Luddite: In Enlightenment works a technophobic character is more likely to be insane, a terrorist and using technology to further their cause.
  • Evil Reactionary: Reactionaries in enlightenment works tend to be trying to bring back a past Utopia that never existed in the first place through any means possible.
  • The Federation: The Enlightenment has been known to advocate democracy as a preferred form of government.
  • For Happiness: Jeremy Bentham, regarded as the founder of modern utilitarianism, lived during the Age of Enlightenment. Even today, utilitarianism is often seen as one of the most "logical" ethical systems out there.
  • For Science!: Greater knowledge of the universe and its workings allows us to better understand our place in it — and to carve out a new place if our current spot isn't comfortable.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: The Enlightenment can be justly criticized for overly romanticizing this trope, in all opposition to actual history.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: If the story is Enlightenment-themed and has a War at its center, expect horrible people and saintly ones on both sides. Bad things done in the name of good intentions, and good things achieved for mercenary motives.
  • Hard on Soft Science: How it appears in science-fiction. Ironically, as Stephen Hawking pointed out in A Brief History of Time, during the actual Enlightenment, philosophers and scientists exchanged notes all the time, and indeed it was during this period that "natural philosophy" was phased out in favor of Science with a Capital S, while parts of Philosophy evolved into social sciences like economics, sociology and psychology.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Among some strains of thought, most of the ills that plague humanity and cause conflicts come about through simple ignorance, not premeditated malice. Thus, promoting a breadth and depth of knowledge through a better education actually makes us better people.
  • Hero of Another Story: As important as The Hero is, if he has come far it is because he is merely standing "on the shoulders of giants".
  • Heroic Bystander: The difference between a "hero" and a "bystander" is more one of circumstance than ability. Anyone has the potential to become great, not just a privileged few. After all, it was a bunch of anonymous people who stormed the Bastille.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Predominantly among the British schools of Enlightenment thought, historically.
  • Ignored Expert: If Cassandra Truth appears in an Enlightenment-leaning work, the character who speaks it will have plenty of knowledge and training to back it up.
  • Immigrant Patriotism: The period that birthed nationalism was also a golden period for cosmopolitanism with philosophers travelling across Europe and America and sharing ideas.
  • Knight in Sour Armor or A Lighter Shade Of Gray: The Enlightenment anti-hero will usually be a cynic, but will ultimately strive to do the right thing for the good of all because rationally, it is the right thing to do.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: While this is not a universal belief among Enlightenment-leaning authors, they are likely to regard immortality as yet another achievement of science, and therefore welcome it.
  • Medieval Morons: Resulting from (or in) ignorance of the fact that the medieval period was actually a time of great social upheavals and mechanical innovation.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Not always, but a frequent feature of post-WWII-Enlightenment-styled works of sufficient scale is that the world is sufficiently complex, and people have sufficiently varied motivations, that any Black And White classification is going to be flawed—you either are going to have shades of grey, or areas where Black and White overlap.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: The Enlightenment recognizes that the outside world is indifferent to humans, and may in fact be very dangerous to them.
  • The Needs of the Many: Utilitarian works may sometimes emphasize the majority needs outweigh the needs of the minority. Some may emphasize that if sacrifices need to be made, it will be on the minority.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions
  • The Paragon: Protagonists in Enlightenment stories will usually be this.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech
  • Post-Cyberpunk: Enlightenment's answer to the Romanticist Cyberpunk.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: The pursuit of knowledge is in itself morally neutral; what other people choose to do with that knowledge is their responsibility.
  • Rousseau Was Right: Predominantly among the Continental schools of Enlightenment thought, historically.note 
  • Science Hero: Science is seen as a force of good by the Enlightenment, while ignorance was seen by many Enlightenment thinkers as the root of all evil.
  • Shining City: Civilization, science and technology are good - therefore, an ideal society would look like this.
  • Strawman Emotional: The more anvilicious Enlightened works may feature such characters.
  • Transhuman: Or more specifically, optimistic portrayals of it
  • The Unchosen One: The power to change the reality lies not in the hands of a few chosen, but in the hands of every ordinary person.
  • A World Half Full: No matter how bad the world gets in an Enlightenment story, there will always be hope for improvement.

     Team Romanticism 

Tropes usually associated with Romanticism:

  • Barbarian Hero: Such a hero is likely to be portrayed to possess some kind of "primeval wisdom" that the more civilized characters have lost.
  • Black and White Morality: Since a lot of adventure and fantasy literature tends toward romanticism, they will usually have a clear set of well-defined heroes and villains by default. This is especially true in books targeted towards children, which usually have a romanticist slant.
  • Black and Grey Morality: Alternatively, cynical works against the foundations of society will usually portray this set of morality, showing that Humans Are Flawed or Humans Are the Real Monsters. Expect any form of remote goodness to come from a decidedly heroic and above-society entity.
  • Book Dumb: A character relying on their intuition rather than formal training is very much in line with Romanticist thinking.
  • Byronic Hero: THE Romantic Trope. A strongly individualistic figure who is driven by passion, misunderstood by society, and rebellious against conventions.
  • Chivalric Romance: Differs from actual medieval chivalry and romances, in that it's more idealistic and nostalgic than its inspirations.
  • The Chosen One: Truly heroic feats can only be accomplished by one who is "destined" to do so.
  • Cloning Blues: Cloning is on the Scale of Scientific Sins, so it is bound to have some bad consequences in a Romanticist work.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A grimdark backlash against humanity's trust in eternal improvement.
  • Creating Life Is Bad: One of the deeds on the Scale of Scientific Sins. Frankenstein, one of Romanticism's classic works, has this trope as its central premise.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Modifying oneself is on the Scale of Scientific Sins, as Romanticism sees any interference in one's biology as evil and dangerous.
  • Cyberpunk: Another grimdark backlash, this time against the techno-utopianism of the 40's and 50's.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Looking over the founder of a country as a larger than life figure.
  • Gaia's Vengeance (or Gaia's Wrath): Earth (and its biosphere) is often a sentient entity in Romanticist works, and any attempt to interfere in it will hurt it. Therefore, as soon as Earth is hurt badly enough, it will fight back, with disastrous consequences for civilization.
  • Good Old Ways: Romanticism has been known to idealize the past, especially pre-industrial societies.
  • Gothic Horror: Ironically had its heyday during the Enlightenment age (where like the Renaissance they associated Gothic with irrationality, backwardness and feudal past). The Romantics however revived Gothic with a more neutral and fantastic attitude.
  • Immortality Immorality: Achieving immortality is on the Scale of Scientific Sins.
  • Industrialized Evil: It is common of Romanticist works to portray machines as cold, callous, and creepy, so using them as a tool for evil is fitting.
  • In Harmony with Nature: Romanticism is known to idealize nature, and it is a common sentiment in Romanticist works that the best path is through, well, living in harmony with nature, rather than trying to expand and develop civilization.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: The world is harsh and cruel, and I've accepted it, and the "rational" thing to do may be to give up, but dangit I'm fighting anyway!
  • Punk Punk: In general, anything with "-punk" in its name has a strong tendency towards Romanticism, due to the genre's cynicism about human advancement, preference for older and more visible machines, and strongly antiauthoritarian tendencies. However, this isn't a hard-and-fast rule, and many "-punk" works actually lean towards Enlightenment in their embrace of the possibilities of their setting's unique technology. (Post-Cyberpunk, being a reaction against the extreme Romanticism of the Cyberpunk genre, is the most obvious example.)
  • Robot War: Since A.I. Is a Crapshoot, creating an AI is asking for war.
  • Scale of Scientific Sins: Portraying some branches of science and technology as inherently evil. This runs counter to the Enlightenment's idea of knowledge being inherently good.
  • Science Is Bad: While individual Romanticists' attitudes towards science may vary from simple caution to outright rejection, Romanticism in general is characterized by a very skeptical attitude towards scientific progress and the change it brings, or rather the utopian idea of science the Enlightenment possessed.
  • Science Is Wrong: Romanticism saw science and logic as inferior to emotion, and therefore science alone would come to wrong conclusions.
  • The Spark of Genius: Romanticism often portrays all creative activity as something defying all rational explanation - and science is no exception (when scientists are not portrayed as Straw Vulcans).
  • Straw Vulcan: The more anvilicious Romanticist works may feature such characters, portraying characters that are supposed to be epitomes of logic as shallow caricatures, who ironically are not very logical.

     Common Tropes 

Tropes shared between them, but handled in different ways:

  • All-Loving Hero: Both Romantic and Enlightened works on the idealistic end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism have protagonists with this belief. The difference is in how their beliefs are handled. The Romantic may assert that human nature of love must triumph over "totalitarian" rationality of utilitarianism, while the Enlightened hero will actually embrace rationalism and utilitarianism, and still prove his or her love for other beings through them.
  • Captain Patriotic:
    • The Enlightenment invented nationalism, because the nation, in theory, was opposed to The Kingdom and The Church, and it was a consensual secular identity around which one can build The Republic, which until this period was contained only in city-states but now governed over areas bigger than Kingdoms and with more central authority than any King before. This led to the idea of creating national institutions and cultural centers (museums, science institutions, art galleries, monuments) built to celebrate the nation. Team Enlightenment blames romantic sentimentality towards folklore and Rose Tinted Narrative for having corrupted nationalism from its radical origins.
    • The Romantics who later came around to nationalism, were obsessed with folklore emphasized cultural heritage as the definition of national identity, and essentially invented the culture wars about which values and which individuals are the true representatives of the nation.
  • Creating Life Is Awesome: Enlightenment works are theoretically okay with this, skeptical in practise, whereas Romantics argue against playing God. The very first science-fiction, Frankenstein tackled this very concept, and it was a romantic work. It must be noted that Enlightenment-inspired revolutions, especially the French and the Russian one, had the idea of creating "a new man" which they meant to be a citizen with values and references entirely different from the past, but which in the eyes of critics amounted to be similar to treating man as tabula rasa with new values inserted like a program given to a robot. Mary Shelley's book argued that in taking the role of God, man is likely to repeat the same mistakes to his creations and the consequences it creates.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Romanticists believe that Curiosity Killed the Cast, or at least make us Go Mad from the Revelation and turn us into nihilists, the Enlightened do recognize that curiosity does have its flaws, but overall it can be used for further learning and self-improvement.
  • Democracy Is Bad: You can find arguments for this among both Enlightenment and Romantic schools, though more in the case of the latter. Although democracy tends to be an Enlightened philosophy, many early Enlightened works and philosophers pondered a technocracy (e.g., Plato's The Republic) or a plutocracy. Romanticists are more varied in their positions; some want to return to old-fashioned feudalism, others advocate for a democratic system, and often their chosen form of government is whichever form is not in place in their society.
    • Basically, Enlightenment hates democracy because it puts truth to a popular vote rather than using reason, while Romanticism hates democracy because it becomes a bureaucratic mess where leaders care more about winning elections than ruling.
    • It should be noted that what is considered Democracy as we live it today (where everyone can vote, no discrimination to minorities, no slavery and exploitation of other people) is quite different from what many Enlightened and Romantic writers thought vis-a-vis democracy (Enlightenment thinkers were content with limited suffrage, while Voltaire would probably insist that a secular France remain anti-semitic) with the exception of Rousseau, Diderot, Condorcet and a few others.
  • Dystopia:
  • The Extremist Was Right: Both Enlightenment and Romantics feature this in their works.
    • invoked The smartest person in the room would not face opposition in any story if authority or the people saw their ideas as reasonable. An Enlightened figure, either a critic of government, a scientist, a reformer, will be seen as an extremist until Vindicated by History. Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy of the People plays it straight, Bertolt Brecht's Galileo is a parody.
    • Extreme solutions are more glamorous than mundane solutions and Romantic works often favor situations and settings where characters believably move into extreme phases of behavior, act disproportionately but in the end are praised by everyone as visionaries who were bold, decisive and had the gut instinct. And of course, because the person can only act in an extreme measure, there is No Place for Me There after the world is saved.
  • Fantastic Racism: Even though enlightenment works address the issue of racism a lot more than romantic ones, there have been some romantic works that address this as well. Enlightenment works would often argue that maintaining the societal status quo is the cause of racism, as maintaining society's traditional values lead to a society that will not accept races of cultures of different kinds. Enlightenment works often argue that it is necessary for society to change for a greater good in order to maintain and racially diverse and tolerant society. Romantic works will argue that racism is caused by the enlightenment's side need of sacrificing the few for the sake of majority and argue that races considered as "inferior" are often sacrificed. Romantic works argue that man's natural ability to love will always triumphs over man's racial hatred and prejudice.
  • Fictional United Nations: Can be portrayed as either useful or useless in much the same way as Democracy Is Bad. The Romanticist sees the Fictional United Nations as hamstrung by the realities of international politics where powerful nations will still run riot over weak ones (see the League of Nations). The Enlightened depict the job as tricky but not impossible, with the participants more inclined towards Enlightened Self-Interest and willing to work together for the greater good.
  • Genre-Busting: The idea of a writer as a creator of original stories and new characters comes from this era and both the Enlightenment and the Romantic eras contributed to contemporary literature:
    • The Enlightenment invented realism, works by Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding and Jane Austen created an apetite in the public for the novel of contemporary life. There were also genres such as the philosophical parable and satire (Jonathan Swift, Voltaire) and the Gothic horror and romance by Walpole and Ann Radcliffe. Before Romanticism, the idea was to use classical and Biblical myth (Paradise Lost and most of Shakespeare's plays) as source material for plots, characters and themes. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Werther and Wilhelm Meister became bestsellers of its day and put across the idea of youth as protagonists, Tragic Hero and the bildungsroman as genres.
    • The romantics like Wordsworth poetry tackled everyday life and nature as themes and subjects for poetry. Coleridge used poetry to represent fevered stages of psychological stress: guilt/despair/lust and romance. Lord Byron's poetry created the new character archetype of the Byronic Hero which inspired Stendhal and Alexander Pushkin. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein subtitled the modern Prometheus to show that it was entirely different from the older myths. Walter Scott and Alexandre Dumas created the new genre of Historical Fiction, while the Gothic Romance genre, already parodied by Jane Austen, got revived towards the horror genre and even infused in realistic stories like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.
  • Godwin's Law: Both sides have arguments that the Nazis belonged to the opposing side. Romanticists point to their racial pseudoscience and use of modern industry to organize mass killings, the Enlightened point to their reactionary blood and soil ideology and mythology of race. Social Darwinism is mentioned below.
  • Green Aesop: Both sides are fond of these, though the Romantic version gets a lot more play in media. The Romantic Green Aesop is that humanity must live in peace and harmony with the natural world, often adding "or she'll kill us all." The Enlightenment version agrees that humanity must protect the environment, but argues for scientific and technological solutions to environmental issues, often amounting to deliberate re-engineering of the global ecosystem. In other words, they believe that humanity can win against Gaia's Vengeance while averting Gaia's Lament.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: With the decline of religion in the philosophical mainstream, such ideas as Good and Evil gradually shifted to a non-religious conception:
    • The (mostly British) Enlightenment acknowledges wholeheartedly that humans (especially the working classes and colonized barbarians) are incredibly selfish, materialistic, pleasure-obsessed, aggressive, impulsive, short-sighted, miserable, and otherwise...bastard-y animals (just see Hobbes Was Right), and this selfishness is biologically and neurologically immutable (e.g. pain, fight-or-flight, fear, hunger, sex, and such). To later and more cynical Singularitarian Transhumanists, the only method that will abolish this selfish gene is through evolution into The Singularity where pain is nonexistent (e.g. Assimilations). On the other hand, some strains of thought argue that these characteristics aren't necessarily bad in themselves as long as they can be moderated and channeled towards positive ends by a rational mind.
    • The Romantic school argued that humans were capable of being monstrous but this might not be such a bad thing. After all civilization is hypocritical and deluded about how noble it is, and ignorant and blind of the harm it unleashes in the name of "progress" (for the very few). Self-proclaimed goody two shoes are boring, usually prudish and lousy in bed, and actually not really all that good once you get down to it. People who are monstrous or bad at least admit it. This was the theme of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and it was partly as a result of this trope that Villain Protagonist and Byronic Hero as in Wuthering Heights' Heathcliff came to be prominent and influential. It also underpinned Friedrich Nietzsche's criticism of conventional morality and a restricted view of human nature as "good" and "evil".
  • Humans Are Special: The Enlightenment argued that humans are rational and that it was possible for human reason to build a better society and a more equal society. The Romantic would argue that humans are special because Humans Are Flawed and our flaws and weaknesses make us individuals, unique and give us the strength to stand against the conformity of both conventional and utopian groups. This largely stems from the the (mostly French) Continental schools of Enlightenment which, unlike British Empiricism, argued on Cartesian ideas of "first principles" i.e. starting from scratch and building something new from ground up, rather than fixing and refining what worked in the past.note 
  • Inherent in the System: The Enlightened response is to say "And so, we should make a better system" (or, for the more optimistic, "...make the worst aspects of the current system better"), and then start squabbling about what "better" means. The Romantic response is more variable, but very often tends to be "And so, we should destroy the system."
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: Enlightenment tries its best to combine the two Romanticists say the Enlightenment basically went He Who Fights Monsters and is slowly sacrificing Liberty for Prosperity (see the bit about Crapsack World below).
  • Loners Are Freaks: Both the Enlightenment and Romanticism note that society is alienating and artificial.
    • Where the likes of Goethe would treat this alienation as tragic or the beginning of the path to knowledge (as in Werther and Wilhelm Meister), Romantics glorified the state of being an outsider and rejected by society, and some, namely Fyodor Dostoevsky, saw the ability of some individuals to refuse assimilation in a perfect society (as in Notes from Underground) as a heroic endeavor. Basically, both groups agree that Humans Are Flawed, but Enlightenment is about acknowledging and getting over it and being a better person, while Romanticism is about rejecting social conventions in favor of personal authenticity (cf, Byronic Hero).
    • Much later Jean-Paul Sartre created Existentialism which took an enlightened approach to reclaim the romantic yearning for "authenticity". He noted that life and society was essentially meaningless that it was up to human beings to give meaning to their existence and take responsibility for that self-defined ideal, and that "Bad faith" was all around us which means there's no one definition of authenticity that anyone call follow, rather they must follow their reason and their conscience.
  • Order vs. Chaos: An Enlightenment would favor order for society while a Romanticist would adore the chaos of nature. Sigmund Freud who saw himself in the Enlightened tradition argued that Humans Are Flawed and since actions are driven by unconscious decisions, attempts at order, at home or in society will fail, but by being honest with oneself, and self-critical, and being more tolerant of human weakness, it would be possible to contain and prevent chaos. Surrealists however, inspired by Freud, saw the unconscious and human flaws as an inherently good thing, since without it life would be boring.
  • Perfection Is Impossible: Both sides tend to argue this (and accuse the other of seeking the impossible perfection), but with different alternatives. Enlightenment prefers to use laws and philosophy to make society better than it was before, confident their descendants will repeat the Reconstruction. Romanticism rejects this assumption, and often states that even attempting to make society better will make things worse.
  • Postmodernism: Both the Postmodern and Romantic movements basically emerged as a backlash against modernity and the Enlightenment. However, Postmodernism registers about equal skepticism towards both Romanticism and the Enlightenment, questioning the reality of Romantic concepts like authenticity, naturalness, and truth, while also questioning the usefulness of Enlightened concepts like progress, value, and objectivity. Postmodernism is thus viewed unfavorably by both groups, while it in turn views each as interesting and useful when taken with a grain of salt, hence the famous Postmodern infatuation with Irony. For an example of how this works, consider the important proto-postmodern text Dialectic of Enlightenment, which critiqued modernism and Enlightenment as being nothing other than an extended, totalitarian form of the same (Romantic) primitive world-mythology that grips all people - "[M]yth is already enlightenment; and enlightenment reverts to mythology."
  • Science Fiction Versus Fantasy,: While there are many exceptions, science fiction (glorious future) tends towards Enlightenment, fantasy (glorious past) towards Romanticism.
  • The Social Darwinist:
    • Romanticists warn about the Enlightened's descent into amoral Evilutionary Biologists obsessed with Evolutionary Levels (Nazi comparisons galore). On the other hand, the Enlightened denounce Romanticists (more specifically, the Luddites) as savages glorifying the dog-eat-dog the-weak-get-killed-off brutal Crapsack World of the past (The Dung Ages comparisons galore).
    • Team Enlightenment points out that Romanticist glorification of The Hero, their fetish for "great men" and "the natural man" who rises from Rags to Riches and then remodels the world is essentially a romantic dressing up of this concept, noting that it argues that such exceptional people (mostly Napoleon Bonaparte fanboys) deserve to conquer and rule others because they have a higher understanding then the lowly mortals who should be content to remain subjects.
  • Society Is to Blame: The Enlightened response is to say "And so, we should change society," and then start squabbling about how to do it.
  • Soldier vs. Warrior: The Soldier mindset is more in-line with the Enlightenment crowd, while Warriors are more subscriptive to Romanticism.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Romanticism tends towards the cynical, but with a large amount of deviation. The Enlightenment is more complicated:
    • Enlightenment figures from the European continent, particularly (for some reason) Germany, really were idealistic and optimistic (take Immanuel Kant and Leibniz as examples). Other Continental Enlightenment types (like Voltaire—no, not that one) were willing to admit that most Humans Are Bastards, but trusted in the virtue of some people to keep things improving.
    • Rousseau, who was the one figure both Enlightenment and Romantic writers claimed for their own was idealistic about social progress and believed it was entirely achievable with a positive vision of society, as opposed to a negative one like Hobbes. He also believed it was realistic, citing the influence of Niccolň Machiavelli (whose reputation Rousseau played a role in reviving).
    • Enlightenment figures from the British tradition tend to assume absolute cynicism—Humans Are Flawed animals and Machiavelli Was Right, in their opinion—and then proceed to create institutions that guide that cynicism to public benefit (think of Ethical Hedonism, Hobbes and Lord Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees). In other words, it's a position that transcends the Sliding Scale: They're idealistic about the big picture (society) because they're cynical about the small one (the individual). Though in regard to Romanticism, a case could be made that it can be idealist, though in an anti-rationally different way than how an Enlightenment leaning individual would define Idealism.
    • Romanticism was largely idealistic about individuals but cynical about institutions and governments, while Enlightened were idealistic about institutions, laws, government and ideologies but cynical about individuals working outside, or entirely escaping the influence of these systems.
  • Still Fighting The Civil War: Enlightened see refusing to admit that your side lost as pointless, whereas Romantics see continuing in a long-over fight as glorious.
  • Straw Nihilist: Romanticists see the Enlightenment as converting humanity into a race of nihilists, thus in Romanticist works such nihilists are usually portrayed as Enlightened people who failed to find an objective proof for a "meaning in life" (for a contemporary version of this, see Cyber Punk, with high technology but existential angst). The Enlightened tend to see nihilists as Romantics who have abandoned rationalism but failed to find anything to replace it with, Friedrich Nietzsche while critical of Enlightened rationalism in general, agreed with this view. Existentialists, incidentally, are found on both sides.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Romanticism believes that Measuring the Marigolds too much decreases the awe, while the Enlightenment believes that a deeper scientific understanding of the workings of the world can actually increase the awe through fueling our curiosity and besides, nobody started talking about the beauty of nature when it was part of the mundane drudgery of feudalism. It's only with industrialization and urbanization that these silly nostalgics come out of the woodwork.

Examples:

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  • Neon Genesis Evangelion has villainous examples from both sides of the spectrum. The artificial evolution committee SEELE is Enlightenment Utilitarianism to the extreme, with their TransHumanist ideology of using science to destroy the Angels, ascend the Evolutionary Levels, and assimilate humanity into The Singularity to abolish the physical/biological/existential selfishness that exists in every individual. SEELE is obsessed with the Future of Humanity, and thus they believe in a philosophy of Utopia Justifies the Means. They don't care about the present-day harm done to the people they manipulate, as long as Utopia arrives. On the other hand, Gendo is an extreme Romanticist Anti-Hero, who only cares about his dead wife and messiah Yui, he doesn't care if the world is destroyed, as long as he can see Yui again. Gendo symbolizes an obsession with the Past, an obsession with Yui. He lives in the Past and makes monuments to the Past, the Reis. He doesn't care about the Present, about living with his own son, Shinji. This obsession with the past reaches its logical extreme when Rei, his monument to the Past, turns everybody into primordial DNA soup that was life four billion years ago. Whatever their philosophies are, both of them don't appreciate the Present, and thus their obsessions reach their selfish and villainous extremes when they start ruthlessly manipulating other people, and thus in the end they are both Not So Different.
    • Shinji, who used to be in the extreme Romantic end of the spectrum, develops an Existentialist philosophy in The End Of Evangelion. In the end he appreciates his depressing individual life in the Present despite his full knowledge that it's a Crapsack World and individuality is painful, culminating in him deciding to reject Instrumentality, a False Utopia made of the extreme combination of both Enlightenment (as a utopian Singularity) and Romanticism (as mankind reverted to primordial soup and forcefully assimilated back into the Mother of All Mankind).
  • Super Dimension Fortress Macross straddles the gap between Real Robot and Super Robot, but slams the dial hard towards Enlightenment.
    • Your mileage may vary slightly on that last point- for all its idealism, a key theme is that of the very transhumanist (transhumanoidist?), and warlike, Zentraedi being won over by good old-fashioned human concepts like love. So it does in a way play with Romanticism a bit.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, for all its seemingly Romantic emphasis on emotional intensity, falls hard on the side of Enlightenment. The ethos of the series having a very strong belief in the idea of progress and the ultimate perfectibility of the human (and beastman?) condition. The heroes may have "kicked logic to the kerb", but only with the aim of creating their own logic that works for them against all attempts by the anti-spirals to make them regress back to the level of barbarism; vehemently rejecting the idea that you can't evolve and progress without destroying yourselves. After the end credits, humanity - in league with several other species - is shown to have created a near-utopian society and on its way to show the universe itself who's boss.
  • The Gundam franchise flip-flops back and forth on the scale. In the Universal Century, the proto-transhumanist "anti-Earth" (What "anti-Earth" means varies with perspectives) ideology of Zeon Zum Deikun is highly Enlightened (supporting humanity moving away from Earth and evolving into Newtypes), but various series portray this as a bad thing, a good thing, or a good ideology corrupted by assholes. Incidentally, the Axis Zeon movement is highly Romanticist, as their leader Haman Khan believes that Humans Are Bastards and is (theoretically) fighting to restore the fallen Zabi family, but this faction is portrayed entirely negatively. Put another way, in the Universal Century, ideology is mainly an excuse for people to kill each other, and neither Enlightenment nor Romanticism comes off particularly well.
  • Contrast Gundam 00 with Code Geass. The former, after a considerable course of trials by the evil in humanity, is ultimately Enlightened, showing that humankind have a potential to reach a true understanding of one another and extend it to even extra-terrestrials, thus casting aside their difference and reaching true peace. The latter, on the other hand, is deeply Romanticist, showing that humanity requires the extreme measures by a lone Byronic Hero to ultimately achieve the aformentioned goals.
  • In Princess Mononoke, the forest gods and animals are Romanticist, and the humans living in Iron Town are Enlightened (especially in their industrial ambitions and egalitarian treatment of downtrodden types like lepers and ex-prostitutes). In the end, peace is achieved on Romanticist terms, with the surviving villagers deciding to work in harmony with the forest. The Romantic figures are destroyed entirely, and while Iron Town may be destroyed, it will be rebuilt better than before since its residents better understand their relationship to the natural world. The ending is more a dialectical "synthesis" and Reconstruction, where the Enlightenment side accepts the Romantic "dystopia" critique and moves forward with a better understanding. That ending is actually very pro-Enlightenment, as a core value of the Enlightenment is rejecting dogmatism in favor of better ideas when one has more knowledge - which can include swallowing elements of the Romantic critique. In other words, an Enlightenment figure can evaluate a Romantic Deconstruction, say, "You're right!", and find a repair while still remaining entirely an Enlightenment figure.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes is based on a conflict between the Romanticist-based Galactic Empire and the more Enlightenment-based Free Planets' Alliance. Neither of these are treated as a particularly ideal society.
  • Origin: Spirits of the Past is complicated. On the one hand you have the Forest versus the industrialized nation of Ragna, on the other hand the Forest is anything but natural and destroyed the old civilization that Ragna (or at least Shunack) is obsessed with recreating.
  • One Piece is this, though it's more idealism vs. cynicism. One of the strongest themes running through the show is the power of dreams, and the ability to do anything if you want it hard enough, opposed by characters (especially Bellamy, in the Jaya sub-arc) who don't believe in the power of dreams or True Companions.
  • Witch Hunter Robin presents a Romantic notion of witchcraft with neo-Victorian costumes.
  • The Magical Girl genre generally tends toward Romanticism.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
    • This trope is a major theme in the series. On the Enlightened side, we have the cold, ruthless Totalitarian Utilitarian scientific Incubators who will do anything to harvest energy and reverse entropy. On the other side we have hard Romantics such as Sayaka who follows the Honor Before Reason Knight in Shining Armor morality, and who is utterly disgusted by the very thought of becoming anything other than human. Homura is more balanced, with her Anti-Hero-ism that is just as ruthless as Kyubey's as she will do anything for the sake of protecting her beloved Madoka, but at the same time she often serves as the (ignored) voice of reason for the other magical girls, and at one point says that she is "on the side of those who think rationally". Madoka provides a decision buffer in the Present between the two conflicting philosophies; she is disgusted upon both of them for their antiheroic extremism and manipulations, but also at the same time appreciates their intentions, knowing that Incubators try to prevent Heat Death and liberated mankind from the Stone Age, while Homura is doing her best to protect Madoka.
    • The ending of the original series could be described as "Romanticism respecting the Enlightenment". Madoka reorders the universe with The Power of Love, transforming from a girl who hates herself to... a happy girl who essentially kills herself and disembodies her spirit in order to create a new system where all magical girls are saved while the Energy system is not compromised. Madoka let the Incubators exist to prevent entropy and give humanity civilization, while eliminating the worst and unnecessary waste products of the Puella Magi system (witches). She simultaneously assists Kyubey in his goal of preventing the heat death of the universe, and gives up her old self to help fix the world. If Madoka straight-up wished that Kyubey didn't exist and accepted her life as "naked and living in caves" while the universe dies from entropy, the series would be fully Romanticist.
    • Rebellion, on the other hand, sides firmly with Romanticism. Kyubey gets much less screen time in this movie than in the series, and his role is much more clearly villainous as he tries to restore the old witch system with no regard for the humans' fate and generally acts like a Straw Vulcan, with his failure to understand human motives reaching utterly ridiculous levels. He also concedes to Homura that human emotions are something that he will never either comprehend or control, while Homura intentionally creates a Lotus-Eater Machine on her own terms just to be able to see Madoka in her human form again. This time Homura is not "on the side of those who think rationally", as the motive behind her transformation into Akuma Homura is irrational to the core, which is fully acknowledged by Homura herself. The concept movie that was shown in late 2015 implies that the next installment in the franchise will also have a Romanticist message - among other things, it states that Madoka was somehow unhappy as an omniscient goddess, just because she wasn't human.
  • Black Lagoon is strongly romanticist from the art style and shot composition to character motivations to the heavy Rule of Cool in action scenes. Balalaika's rationalist ideology and fighting style, Enlightenment, make her that much more intimidating as a result.
  • The Patlabor franchise in general remains on the Enlightened end of the spectrum and relatively idealistic - even in the worst of times.
  • Shakugan no Shana season 3 boils down to this: The Crimson Denizens led by the cold and ruthless Enlightened Yuji Sakai, with a belief that Utopia Justifies the Means, who tries to create a world where the Crimson Denizens no longer have to consume humans to survive, versus Shana's and the Flame Hazes' equally ruthless Romanticist Anti-Heroism who will do anything for the sake of protecting the Humans from being devoured by the Crimson Denizens. The Flame Hazes, eventually realizing that their current methods aren't working, give in and submit a rule the outright prevents the Crimson Denizens from consuming humans in any way, whom Yuji accepts. Judging how he succeeds in the end, this would make the series an Enlightened work.
  • Elfen Lied is heavily Romanticist. Japan is just a tool of manipulation by the Kakuzawas, who are Romanticist due to their motivations being based on folk bloodlines and history. The Kakuzawas try to wipe out and replace the human race with the genetically engineered Diclonius via spreading a virus that will result in its infectees siring Silpelit Diclonius. Even the Diclonius are Romanticist, as they rely solely on their emotions and instincts (although most of the reason is due to the emotional and social abuse they experience, which results in their their biological survival instinct fusing with their psychosis, which insists that humans must be eradicated or they will eradicate Diclonii), plus the fact that civilizing them is near-impossible due to their lethal Psychic Powers, combined with the awakening of their powers occurring at a childhood age, where they cannot understand between right and wrong, effectively making them Noble Savages at best and Always Chaotic Evil at worst (with the exception being Nana). Interestingly enough, it's Lucy who ultimately goes on the side of Enlightenment as she reject the Kakuzawas' plans to supplant humanity with the Diclonius and even calls them out over their foolish ambitions being based on legends that ultimately were never true in the first place and saying that they are no more than just humans with atavism.
  • A Certain Magical Index has this as one of the central themes of the series and takes it to near-literal levels, with the Magic Side being Romanticism and the Science Side being Enlightenment. It reaches its pinnacle during World War III, and ultimately the Science Side wins, making the series more towards Enlightenment.
  • Death Note is generally Romanticist in character, with Villain Protagonist Light Yagami being a Visionary Villain who wants to make the world a better place by force, which appears on the surface to be a sign of evil Enlightenment. And by the end (especially in the anime), several characters (and the authors) simply point out that he's only doing what he does to satisfy his own ego and madness; he's actually a Romantic figure, and his support for the Enlightenment is just self-delusion. His main adversaries, meanwhile, are non-ideological and are essentially fighting him because that's what they do; while they disagree with Light, that's not really why they're fighting him. As a final note, it's worth noting that the actual Enlightenment voices in the show (Chief Yagami and courageous news reporter Koki Tanakabara) both come across extremely well in their support of the lawful actions of the police force and the constitutional government of Japan.
  • Sailor Moon is extremely Romantic, albeit a very idealistic and optimistic version. The heroines are reincarnated heroines from the lost Silver Millenium, led by a princess, they fight for and with The Power of Love, and their destiny is to create a beautiful new Crystal Tokyo in the future under a new Queen Serenity. The latter in particular has proven ripe fodder for many a Deconstruction Fic or plain old Dark Fic.
  • Psycho-Pass is complicated. The society built around the Sibyl System is an Enlightened Totalitarian Utilitarian state where people are imprisoned or killed based on their likelihood of committing crimes rather than on anything that they do, but the system generally seems to work pretty well (except where it doesn't), to the point where people are more likely to die from too little stress in their lives than from criminal activity. By contrast, the Romanticist villain Makeshima wants to bring down this system and release humans to follow their natures; he and all of his minions, however, are Serial Killers, and he in particular is a complete sociopath. Neither side is good, but Akane, the protagonist, turns out to be very strongly Enlightened indeed. In the ending, she decides that she'll work with the Sibyl System, but someday humans will come up with a better solution and pull the plug on it.
  • Black Bullet leans heavily towards the enlightenment side. One of the main themes is that humanity lives in a Crapsack World where Gastrea destroyed most of humanity and cursed children live with constant discrimination and racism. The protagonist wish to destroy the Gastrea and want to reform society to create a better life for both humanity and cursed children. In particular, Seitenshi serves as a Martin Luther King Jr. type figure who wants to implement civil rights for the cursed children and wishes to reunite humanity and cursed children in society to defeat the Gastrea. The protagonist, Rentaro Satomi, also share the same goals with Seitenshi, as he's a utilitarian who does not want to see anyone suffering and want to bring happiness to the cursed children's lives that they never had. Interestingly enough, Rentaro's partner and cursed child Initiator, Enju Aihara, falls into both sides of the spectrum note 
  • The Lyrical Nanoha series overall is not even subtle about being on Team Enlightenment. The Administrative Bureau and the Mid-Childan society in general are a futuristic utopia based on cooperation and reason, while the Belkan civilization (whole dangerous legacy the Mid-Childans still have to deal with) had been firmly rooted in romanticized chivalry and warfare. The title character takes to the Mid-Childan culture immediately, while her opponents throughout the seasons are either driven (mad) by passion or blinded by their notion of honor and generally try to go it alone. She usually manages to pull at least some of them over to her side by the end of the respective season, and thus far only Force has introduced what appears to be an Enlightenment-style Visionary Villain (although he hadn't received much characterization before the series was put on ice).

     Comic Books 
  • The Authority: Strongly Pro-Enlightenment. This is typically expressed in that they tend to have a strong degree of cynicism along the lines of British tradition, but it is born of their disappointment towards society failing to meet their Ideals. Team Romanticism is usually represented by Marvel Comics ersatzes who get thoroughly beaten.
  • Marvel Comics was itself more Pro-Enlightenment than DC Comics. Marvel Comics had relatively more complex origins and villains, many of them lived in a real-life city like New York, whereas DC had simplistic stories, villains and Empathic Environment like Metropolis (the Home of Superman, and so bright, cheerful and optimistic) and Gotham (the Home of Batman, so dark, dingy and pessimistic).
    • Captain America is Captain Patriotic in the Enlightenment tradition, he defends values and ideals and embodies them as best as he can in a rapidly changing world and commands leadership by consent and consensus rather than simply being the most powerful and charismatic of them all.
    • The Vigilante heroes of Spider-Man, The Punisher and Daredevil are as a rule more romantic than Marvel's Team Heroes. Within them, Spider-Man is more Enlightened than the latter two, since he sees superhero careers as responsibilities and a daily struggle to balance both to the best of his abilities, while the latter two see crime-fighting as a personal crusade, rooted in trauma and personal demons.
    • While XMen have an Enlightened crusade of equal rights and social justice, their appeal as outsiders who are different from society attract many Romantic types. Wolverine is perhaps the most romantic figure in the Marvelverse, with his Dark and Troubled Past, Heathcliff-like looks and charm and Byronic Hero Lone Wolf nature. Magneto is likewise a Tragic Villain in the Romantic mould.
    • In the Fantastic Four, the conflict between Reed Richards and Doctor Doom. Both are brilliant scientists but the latter is a Mad Scientist dictator who combines magic with sorcery and promotes Intellectually Supported Tyranny (Romantic) while Reed Richards represents the Enlightenment.
  • Within DC, Superman is usually the embodiment of the Enlightenment (Rousseau Was Right, Humans Are Special even if Humans Are Flawed) while Batman is the Romantic figure, a Knight in Sour Armor protecting a Wretched Hive and Crapsack World.
    • Superman's enemies are generally motivated by rational (if evil) goals such as World Take Over the City/despotism and representative of some form of tyranny which Superman wants to oppose. Batman's enemies however are largely Insane Equals Violent who commit crimes for no rational reasons and render any attempt to reason or reform them a complete joke, with that most romantic of tropes, Bedlam House becoming a Cardboard Prison.
    • Likewise, Batman is largely a loner who broods in a castle with only a loyal retainer as his near-equal (in other words not quite equal), fitting the Byronic Hero archetype well what his messy self-destructive love life and passive-aggressive arm's-length dynamic with his sidekicks, whereas Superman is extroverted in both his superhero and civilian identities, usually engages in long-term relationships and friendships and is loyal to his roots and community.
    • Of course Superman is bestowed with the Superpower Lottery from birth and is a Romantic figure of optimism and progress, while Batman despite being a billionaire (and essentially as advantaged as Superman in the eyes of the ordinary man) is a Badass Normal who mastered all known physical and scientific skills and stands out across all comics as the only major hero without superpowers or Powered Armor, or other gimmicks (Enlightenment). Likewise, Batman is a detective, someone who uses reason to pursue the truth.
  • Broadly the difference between Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Watchmen is on the Enlightenment side, exploring superheroes Warts and All but ultimately criticizing What Measure Is a Non-Super? and Deconstructing the idea of superheroes as power fantasies. Miller is Romantic, believing that even in a modern post-apocalyptic Reaganite America, Batman can have a great deal of appeal as an anti-Establishment myth and figure despite the changing sociopolitical landscape.
  • Olivier Rameau: The land of Reverose is at the extreme end of the romantic side - to the point that incursions by elements of the Enlightenment side are often treated as existential threats.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese both made deconstructions of the gangster genres from two different views:
    • Coppola's The Godfather is Romantic, painting the Gangster family as modern day Renaissance Princes and their crime business in a benign light. The Corleone family is shown as a loving family despite their criminal enterprise. The Don has a code of Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters and he wants good kids. Michael Corleone asserts to Kay, the Audience Surrogate, that fundamentally gangsters are no different from politicians, businessmen or any other man who is responsible for other people. The Corleone crime enterprise is used as a dark metaphor for The American Dream and the overall contradiction of immigrant families assimilating, symbolized by Michael's desire for the family to get into legitimate businesses, which elevates him into a Tragic Villain and Byronic Hero.
    • Scorsese's vision is Enlightenment. He sees gangsters in Mean Streets, GoodFellas and Casino as hoodlums with Delusions of Eloquence, poor street kids who fall into the criminal life because of poor homes, Abusive Parents and lack of opportunity. The Mob bosses seem Affably Evil and Neighborhood Friendly Gangsters but that's just for show, in the end, everyone is Only in It for the Money and for the sake of it they will kill their friends, rat on each other, destroy themselves. The most violent street hoodlums will be the first to be disposed and often in the messiest of ways to Make an Example of Them, while the ones with cleaner hands, walk away with absolutely nothing to show for themselves, at the end of it all.
  • Star Wars:
    • For the most part, the franchise is a thoroughly romanticist work: while nominally a science fiction story, it is heavily inspired by high fantasy, with its Wagner-flavored music and the focus on larger-than-life heroes that are far above the common man thanks to an innate superpower (Force sensitivity). This is no more sharply contrasted than in the lush, vibrant Scenery Porn of the Old Republic and the cold, utilitarian appearance of The Empire.
    • However, the franchise is also one of the most well-known examples of Good Republic, Evil Empire (an Enlightenment trope), and when it comes to the Jedi and the Sith, the roles are reversed: the Republic/Rebellion-aligned Jedi preach stoicism and rationality (Enlightenment), while the Empire-aligned Sith preach letting one's emotions, especially anger, run wild (Romanticism).
    • In the Star Wars Legends continuity, Luke decides that Both Sides Have a Point, and seeks to unite both Enlightenment reason and Romantic emotion into the New Jedi Order, most notably by lifting the old Order's ban on romantic love.
    • It's unsurprising that Star Wars straddles the divide so thoroughly, given that it's based on a Japanese story (The Hidden Fortress) and Chinese philosophy (Taoism, which strives for balance, not one side over another), thus distancing it (somewhat) from the European heritage this page is focused on.
  • Jurassic Park. The owner was a believer in Enlightenment reason with the cloned dinos, while the Romantic heroes sensibly pointed out the various problems in his park (while causing all the problems in the first place).
  • Fight Club is Romanticist, as befits anything based on the heavily Nietzschean-influenced work of Chuck Palahniuk. Palahniuk's novels often uses a Crapsack World to show the flaws of Team Enlightenment, have some Team Romantic protagonists show up and reject it, then break the protagonists into bits by the end of the novel. This certainly happened to the narrator of Fight Club, everyone in Haunted 2005, and the protagonists of Choke and Invisible Monsters. In both the film and book of Fight Club, the narrator ultimately rejects Tyler Durden's hyper-romantic goals, though the denouement is radically different in the film and movie.
  • I, Robot has Romanticist elements. The hero bemoans the replacement of the cottage industry by robotic industry, and muses that he might be the "last sane person" on earth. The robot apocalypse is written to be the result of logic. The goal, ending humanity's wars and self-destruction, is noble, yet the only reason given for the particular choice of solution (totalitarian uprising) to that problem is the word "logic".
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai features this clash, although it is thoroughly subverted: Colonel Nicholson of Team Enlightenment believes so passionately in law and order that he ends up turning to Honor Before Reason, and collaborating with his Japanese captors in order to stay in command of his men. The wild, defiant Warden, representing Romanticism, ultimately behaves more rationally. At least compared to the Colonel. But the other contrast in the movie is between Nicholson and Shears. In this contrast, Shears represents the Enlightenment as he pursues his goals of survival and defeating the enemy by whatever rational means are effective. Nicholson, on the other hand, is the Romantic who puts the concept of honor ahead of those other goals.
  • The Sherlock Holmes movie in 2009 has Sherlock being largely pro-Enlightenment, in favor of reason, logic, and democratic government, and the movie's villain, Lord Blackwood, being largely pro-Romanticism, in favor of mysticism, monarchism, and a return to older ways of doing things. Seeing that Holmes is a hero protagonist, it seems obvious to say that the movie is pro-Enlightenment. However, Holmes is a freewheeling Bohemian who enjoys the arts alongside his other pursuits, while Blackwood is a fraud who wants to impose a new order of his making over the people of Britain. The actual answer is more complex than it at first seems.
  • True Grit is a movie about the End of the West, and Mattie firmly takes the side of Enlightenment. Rooster Cogburn is very Romanticist, as are most of the Ned Pepper gang, and La Boeuf is somewhere in the middle, trying to be Enlightenment but with a few Romanticist hang-ups.
  • Equilibrium is a clearly Romanticist work, as it is about an evil futuristic society where emotion is outlawed, and the extreme Enlightenment idea of suppressing all emotion through technology is definitely shown as wrong. However, the ending, while portrayed positively, never exactly comes clear on whether restoring human emotion is a good thing.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl has an odd case of this (let's ignore the fact that the setting is actually when Enlightenment was just getting into its stride and Romanticism hadn't been born yet- the series is famous for its Anachronism Stew in more obvious ways). The very Romantic Elizabeth and Will struggle against the Enlightenment mentality of her father and presumed future husband, and... actually comes out the winner. The implication of the whole story is that Enlightenment is sensible, but wrong, and Romanticism is silly, but happens to be right (a Sparrowvian sentiment if ever there was one...)
  • Johnny Mnemonic is romanticist even for cyberpunk. Electronics are giving people neurological disorders and a pharmaceutical megacorp is withholding the cure, which the LoTeks want to steal and distribute. And then there's Johnny's own goal of having his wetware removed so he can regain his childhood memories.
  • Interstellar: the teaser trailer presents a rather Romanticist view of space travel - "because our destiny lies above us."
  • An element of Into the Storm (2009). For example, it is the gist of the Halifax VS Churchill debate. Halifax (pro-enlightenment) is proposing a pragmatic way out for the British Empire to remain, while Churchill (pro-romanticism) is priorizing honor and duty instead of survival.
  • The American Civil War, as seen by Gone with the Wind, is all about this conflict. The movie is on the side of the Confederacy, which it associates with Romanticism, and title cards glory in comparing the quasi-feudal Old South to an idealized view of medieval Europe (in full Purple Prose, of course). As Gone with the Wind would have it, the Civil War was all about the Enlightened North bringing modern, industrialized destruction to the fragile Romanticist South with its Good Old Ways. The ironic tragedy of it all, from the perspective of the film, is that it was precisely because of their outdated Romanticist view of war that the Confederate soldiers rushed off to fight an Enlightened enemy whom they could not have possibly defeated.
  • Ghostbusters (1984) comes down hard on the side of Team Enlightenment.
    • Monsters and fear can be conquered with technology, knowledge, and guts. When a literal Physical God comes back and threatens Armageddon, it gets its ass handed to it by four guys with tools they made themselves and knowledge they gathered for themselves. There's no attempt to use magic against Gozer; it is defeated by science and reason. The subtext here is almost inescapable.
    • Furthermore, the technology involved doesn't require you to be special to wield it. The boys aren't the chosen saviors of mankind; they're three scientists and the hired help who figured out something through study, developed a technology, and used it to solve the problem. Once they come up with the central technology, a normal guy like Winston can use it and even develop himself (in the Expanded Universe) to become an expert and invaluable teammate.
    • The premise itself is very much Team Enlightenment. Gozer isn't beaten with mysticism or magic. Knowledge, courage, and technology will suffice. Gozer represents the romantic view, with its ancient past, the terror dogs, the symbolism pulled from myth, and its mystic plot to return via an over-convoluted fertility rite.
    • The busters themselves only passingly reference religion, with Ray saying of God only he's "Never met him." Winston alone professes faith, but he confronts Gozer with technology, not religion or magic.
    • The Real Ghostbusters expanded on the idea that enlightened ideas of reason and knowledge beat back our fears. Egon is the primary brains behind the technology. Why did he do it? Because he was menaced by the Bogeyman as a kid, motivating him to apply his intellect and reason to understand and best the things that scared him.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope in Brotherhood of the Wolf The titular Brotherhood are Catholic aristocrats using the Beast of Gévaudan as a way of putting the fear of God back into the French populace and increasing the power of the Church over the King. The Hero, Grégoire de Fronsac, is a naturalist fighting for Enlightenment principles, and is able to deduce the real nature of the Beast early on. However his sidekick Mani is a legitimate Magical Native American whose healing powers turn out to be real, and the Brotherhood ends up being brought down by the Vatican itself.
  • Gattaca's soulless eugenicist dystopia represents the Enlightenment run amok, but the plucky hero manages to succeed where "science" says he should fail due to his inferior genes. The tagline, "There Is No Gene For The Human Spirit", sums up the Romanticist message.

    Literature 
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is about classicism (enlightenment) vs romanticism.
  • Andrew Miller's Pure is set just before the French Revolution, before the days of Romanticism, but deals with basically this conflict. Should we sweep away the past and look rationally towards a better future, or is history too much a part of us, societally and emotionally?
  • Lord of the Rings is often read as a pro-Romanticist parable on the evils of industrialization. Which is what it is...except when it's not. J.R.R.T. was a much more subtle and sophisticated thinker than that, and his view was that both 'Reformers' (liberals, social planners, industrialists, Progress, Enlightenment) and 'Embalmers' (reactionaries, clinging to the past for its own sake, close minded, Romantics) were flip sides of the same bad thing, and both tendencies could be and were used by Melkor (the master of Evil) and his servant Sauron in their plots. The creation of the Rings of Power, for example, combined a Romantic desire to preserve the past and stop change with an Enlightenment faith in the power of Reason and Science and Logic to make the progression of time stop. Sauron played the Elves like a piano using both tropes, and thus brought about the creation of the Rings. Likewise, there was good in both the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and this too was shown to be true among those characters in the story who remained at least partly uncorrupted and loyal to God.
  • Rudyard Kipling is an example of both the good and bad sides of Enlightenment— he genuinely thought Western imperialism was helping the non-Western "savages", but tended to express that in a way we now perceive as condescending at best and racist at worst. He also had a romantic side to him as was expressed in his aesthetic appreciation of fishermen, soldiers, railwaymen, and all the various cultures in India. Really he was fascinated by anyone who lived differently from him.
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is distinctly Romanticist— it treats society (in the form of the Combine) as a corrupting force, suppressing and perverting emotion, and using technology to achieve its nefarious ends.
  • C. S. Lewis: ...Well, that's a complicated answer.
    • Tended to be suspicious of Enlightenment and more Romanticist in taste. Which is interesting as Lewis had a personality closer to The Spock than The McCoy. Though in The Four Loves Lewis once snarked that no one could really learn good and evil from "a vernal wood" unless they had an idea of it before hand and that someone could draw a lesson Wordsworth would not approve of as creatures in vernal woods spend a lot of time eating each other.
    • Lewis is on record, though, as saying, with regard to human relations (as contrasted to relations with other classes of being, such as beasts or God), he is a democrat because Humans Are Bastards and no individual or clique can be trusted with too much authority over their fellows. However, democracy has its own corruptions, notably "Demonic Democracy," described by Screwtape in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast," as social pressure that demands no one be excellent, since this would violate "equality."
    • Screwtape, a senior devil, continually advises Wormwood to rely on deception, jargon, and emotion to keep his human from acting morally and ethically. He wants the human thinking about "That was a phase," "This makes me happy," or "That idea is courageous," rather than the more banal questions, "Is this true?" or "Is this just?" Awakening the "patient's" reason would be a terrible idea according to Screwtape, as many of the decisions of the Hell-ward road have no rational justification at all. That's as enlightenment as it can get.
    • In his little-read The Pilgrim's Regress, Lewis had two allegorical characters named "Mr. Enlightenment." They were father and son, both negative figures. The father was a cocksure "village atheist" who dismissed philosophy, religion, and romanticism without looking into them, assuming we've Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions. The son was a pathological Freudian who claimed every disagreement with his position was a self-serving rationalization. "Pilgrim's Regress" is subtitled as a "defense of romanticism" (among other things). Later editions include a long postscript in which Lewis, a literature professor by trade, dissects about a dozen different meanings of "romanticism" and discusses each one.
    • In The Space Trilogy, we have alternating criticisms of Enlightenment and Romanticism:
      • In Out of the Silent Planet, the villain is an Enlightenment-style evil scientist who invents a spaceship so we can invade Mars, kill off the innocent Martians, and take it as a home for humanity's descendants. The Martian races themselves are clearly a harmonious mix of Romanticism (hrossa, pfiffltriggi as artists) and Enlightenment (seroni, pfiffltriggi as technologists).
      • In Perelandra, the same villain has flipped to the Romantic side, obsessed with a universal life-force that is "beyond good and evil" and getting all Byronic/Neitzschean/Wagnerian, trying to convince the heroine that rebellion against God is a good idea.
      • In That Hideous Strength, the new set of villains work for an Enlightenment dystopia that will eliminate organic life and reduce humans to disembodied brains.
    • In short, Lewis was less attached to either way of thought than to the idea that both should be used to serve good ends rather than bad ones.
  • Dune is a peculiar take on this, viewing a society that is decidedly Romanticist from a lens that could be either Romantic or Enlightened depending on how one chooses to see Frank Herbert.

    On one hand, Herbert deconstructs the Robot War in the series' backstory (the Butlerian Jihad), treating its effects realistically, but he doesn't seem to criticize the (Romanticist) premise of the trope. On the other hand, although he used—nay, made and codified—the (Romanticist) Feudal Future trope (which he presents as the logical conclusion of the changes wrought by a realistic Robot War), he does not present the Imperium as a particularly nice place to live for most people (regardless of whether a Corrino or Atreides is on the Golden Lion Throne), and is said to have commented that (Kevin J. Anderson's so-called prequels notwithstanding) the series is supposed to end with the establishment of a real democracy (in other words, Good Republic, Evil Empire=Enlightened).

    On the whole, Herbert tended to warn against the excesses of science, but on the other hand, he never rejected it as a force for good; being that his fundamental philosophy was "environmentalism," which seeks to protect nature (Romanticism) from the excesses of industry (Enlightenment) but often uses rationalistic justifications (Enlightenment) and the tools of science (Enlightenment) to do so. The only character in his oeuvre who might be seen as an Author Avatar is Liet-Kynes (and his father Pardot), who are decidedly Enlightened in outlook (their dream is to terraform Arrakis from a desert planet into a verdant, more ordinary planet, with oceans and plants and everything).

    Herbert's wiser characters in Dune recognize that the Universe is too big, complex, mutable, and powerful for Englightenment logic to ever entirely encompass: in that it's Romantic. Yet science and logic and politics and reason are not bad, as long as those using them remember that they have limits that they cannot escape, and they can never entirely escape the tendency of the Universe to surprise them (in that sense, he's rather like arch-Enlightenment guy Carl Sagan).
  • The Baroque Cycle portrays some Enlightenment figures as almost latter-day superheroes.
  • "The Dresden Files" leans heavily towards Romanticism, with Dresden himself having made several disparaging comments towards modern science and technology. It's even built into the setting. Magic can easily disrupt modern technology.
  • Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time can have multiple interpretations but no matter how you cut it, comes off on the side of Romanticism.
  • H.P. Lovecraft, pioneer of the extremely cynical, Romanticist and Gothic Horror-laden Cosmic Horror Story genre, did like modern astronomy, and took a stance that's closer to Enlightenment (not the idealistic kind, but more similar to the British tradition that tended towards the Humans Are Bastards perspective). This is in contrast to fellow Weird Tales contributor Robert E. Howard, who was certainly a die-hard Romantic who believed civilization was an aberration; obviously, this discussion came up often in their correspondence.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire enjoys Playing Both Sides of this debate:
    • On the whole the series subverts a lot of fantasy and chivalric tropes by presenting a very cool Enlightenment view on feudal traditions, militarism, government and ideology, by emphasizing a heavy sense of Realpolitik. However at the same time, Martin does empathize and identify with those who do believe or are inspired by romantic tropes (such as Brienne, Davos, Dunk, Arya Stark, Samwell, Jon Snow and Sansa) who come to value and hold on to these ideals in the face of violence and extremism, because in a world without ideals, it's up to people to define and embody them to give it any meaning.
    • In a romantic work, the magical faction would be right with the non-magical Measuring the Marigolds type shown to be wrong; in an enlightenment work, it would be the reverse. In the books, magic always comes at a price, is likened to Cosmic Horror and the people who practise magic (such as Melisdanre and Moqorro) have Blue and Orange Morality and despite having genuine powers are shown to have limited understanding over their own magic. The non-magical scholarly folks are shown to be lackeys of the ruling classes, Too Clever by Half, tend to belittle and marginalize the genuinely curious and knowledgable. Then there's Qyburn, an Ex-Maester who brings a scientific spirit of inquiry to the study of magic and becomes a competent doctor and a Necromancer who harvests the dead and the living, showing that mixing the tropes might not work. Ultimately both the magical and non-magical folks have a very limited understanding of the world and forces beyond their control.
    • The contenders for the Iron Throne invoke a lot of romantic justifications for their cause. Balon Greyjoy (and later Euron), as well as Robb Stark Appeal to Tradition, reviving dead titles, and past glory, rather than remain in the unified 7 Kingdoms. Daenerys Targaryen believes that the throne belongs to her by right of blood since her father's throne was usurped, and whose tyranny she is generally in denial about. Renly Baratheon believes that since everyone likes him, and since he commands a large force he should be King, law of succession be damned. Stannis Baratheon is Team Enlightenment, in that he seeks to restore rule of law, order and reform Westeros, wants the Throne because of his legal claim and duty. He also agrees with his Hand that, "A King protects his people, or he is no true King at all."
  • Shadows of the Apt has the magical and highly traditional Inapt races (Romantic) and the forward-minded, technologically-oriented Apt races (Enlightenment).
  • David Brin, of course, is one of the most vocal critics of Romanticism (or "Pining for Feudalism") in the SF&F community, with harsh criticisms of Star Wars (Romanticist) in comparison with Star Trek (Enlightenment).
    • The Uplift series is an unusual example, essentially every alien race in the series is more technologically advanced than Earthclan, but they are utterly stagnant due to all their technology coming from the Library handed down from their ancestral species. Whereas humans prefer to use as much technology that they developed themselves as possible and have often used their interest in scientific advancement to their advantage.
    • In The Postman the Holnists represent romanticism with their campaign of conquest aimed at making themselves the feudal lords of post-apocalyptic America, while Gordon's reformed United States and Cyclops represent enlightenment. This was something of a Take That directed towards After the End books which seemed to romanticize the fall of civilization, with Brin noting pointedly how bad a life like that would be, and everything we'd miss.
    • Also a central theme of Brin's most recent novel, Existence. The new aristocracy consider the enlightenment a failed experiment and seek to return humanity to a form of feudalism (after all 99% of human societies couldn't be wrong, could they?) and the often allied Renunciators want to restrict technological progress. Meanwhile others attempt to create artificial sapience or revive the neanderthals. The Artifact exacerbates the argument, especially when it turns out that the emissaries' species are all extinct, the Renunciators insist that technology must have killed them while the elites jockey for opportunities to upload themselves into the Artifact copies (and for their troubles get tricked into becoming part of a solar system spanning telescope)
  • Chuck Palahniuk's novels, mentioned under Film, usually feature a strong criticism of the Enlightenment with their Crapsack World settings. The protagonists then wind up to be strongly Romantic individuals who are terribly messed up, often as a result of their Romanticist views. For example, Fight Club may be taken as a testosterone-fueled criticism of modern life, but the protagonist winds up rejecting everything his Sensei for Scoundrels hoped to do, shoots himself in the face to try to undo his plans to shake modern society, and winds up committed to an asylum. Haunted is a set of short stories critical of the world of Enlightenment interlaced with the Romantic-heavy physical and moral breakdown of the jerkasses who wrote them. Diary features a protagonist whose Romanticism essentially makes her powerless while the Enlightenment world around her wrecks her life and Romantic forces push her towards a supernatural disaster her Enlightenment intellect can't save her from and haven't been able to save her from for two previous cycles of reincarnation. Phew.
  • William Morris, with his utter disdain for 19th century industrialism and visions of rural idylls based on simple craftsmen making beautiful things, falls firmly into the Romantic camp. News from Nowhere was explicitly written as a Romantic response to Edward Bellamy's pro-Enlightenment Looking Backward, which Morris found stifling industrial, favoring a more "back to nature" agrarian communist utopia.
  • Brave New World: The technocratic Totalitarian Utilitarian Free-Love Future World State is a dystopian deconstruction of the Enlightenment utilitarian post-scarcity utopia; everyone's basic biological pleasures are provided for by the advanced technology, but this scientific society also ends up encouraging neglect for creativity and individuality (e.g. the family is entirely destroyed, with natural reproduction outlawed and "mother" or "father" considered dirty words, no one is interested in True Art Is Incomprehensible, and Romeo and Juliet is comedy), while use of genetic engineering for happy but disturbing ends forms one of the bases for society (e.g. humans now all have perfect health but also a Hive Caste System, one end being the retarded but perfectly contented slaves, and the other being the intelligent alphas who needed said slaves to look down upon). On the other hand, the Savage is Romanticist, appreciating his life of pain and superstition, and considers the World State to be amoral and unnatural. Still, the life on the native reservations is no picnic, and his mother (who grew up in the World State) has been miserable living there.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Holmgang", the villain, a humanist, is part of a movement to break down the order of society, increase the amount of variety in human institutions, and end the decadent society because mankind can be safe and sane for only so long. He reveals that in fact, he's part that will forcibly push mankind into this breakdown, and an eruption of violence.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Goat Song", Harper goes to destroy the society constructed by SUM, urging people to give up the bracelets that contains a promised earthly resurrection, spreading myths and legends, and trusting in things can not be found in science. He's the hero. Yes, this is the opposite of "Holmgang".
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was written for the Romantic movement, and its central protagonist creates life to prove that he can, without asking whether he should. The book's answer, of course, is that he most certainly shouldn't. Or, at the very least, if he wanted to create life, he should have taken responsibility for the creation and nurtured it rather than abandon it.
  • Jules Verne's posthumously-published Paris in the Twentieth Century runs on this trope. It's basically a somewhat dark satire on industrial modernism, where technological marvels abound and war has been rendered meaningless by the horrors of mechanized warfare and the pragmatic concerns of international trade, but there is little soul; commerce, scientific progress and the like are lauded, the arts have decayed into Lowest Common Denominator trash, humanities are ignored, and there is little room for any other such Romantic notions. This makes the protagonist, one of a small dwindling band of closet romantics, unable to cope in his own era, and he ends up wandering the streets, impoverished and in despair, and eventually dying.
  • Technic History by Poul Anderson: As fitting for a Space Opera this series tends to lean toward the romantic, with it's adventuring, colorful cultures, politics both on an imperial and tribal scale and it's tragic clashes of honorable characters. Yet it also has an enlightenment side, such as a search for knowledge and a respect for science, and a balanced appraisal of both the benefits of commerce and it's costs on those who can't compete.
  • Vorkosigan Saga has the weird quality of being enlightened in its sympathies-being about reform bringing in technology, the rights of the unfortunate-while being romantic in it's decoration-having medieval splendor, savage warlords, and so on.
  • Lone Wolf is exceptionally Romanticist in character. Technology is nearly always used by the bad guys, including steam-powered and polluting ironclad vessels, and clean and pristine environments weaken the Darklords of Helgedad, the villains for the first 12 books. Later, Lone Wolf travels to a world under the control of the Big Bad, where advanced Magitek weapons are brought to use against him. Yet Lone Wolf only uses a very few examples of Magitek himself, never even so much as picking up a musket, and if the Kai win, Magnamund will remain in Medieval Stasis forever. This is presented as a good thing.
  • Oryx and Crake, despite the title, revolves around the friendship between Jimmy (later Snowman) and Glenn/Crake. Jimmy represents Romanticism, attending an arts school when arts and humanities are out of favor and collecting forgotten words from books he can't bear to destroy. Crake represents Enlightenment, designing as he is a new humanoid race meant to function without religious leanings or romantic love (although Crake himself isn't immune to the latter.) Margaret Atwood's sympathies clearly lie with Romanticism, especially since Crake releases a supervirus to kill every human being on the planet.
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is basically Mark Twain's deconstruction of the popular romanticization of what he obviously regarded as the Dung Ages through the eyes of a solidly enlightenment protagonist.
  • The last (and highly-forgotten) voyage in Gulliver's Travels was made as a satire of the Enlightenment in Jonathon Swift's time, with the Houyhnhnms representing the ideal human society the Enlightenment craved but could never achieve, and everything wrong with such a place.
  • Brandon Sanderson:
    • Sanderson often comes off in favor of enlightenment in his works, as they usually take place during an age of progress and innovation. The romanticism angle is still given a fair shot, however, and more than once in his books problems have been caused by people insisting to study things when the older, traditional way was working fine. In several books there are characters who miss the old ways (like candles versus electric lights or fireplaces versus heating magitek) but understand that things can't stay the same forever.
    • "Sixth Of The Dusk": Comes out on the enlightenment side, but in a balanced way. Progress is repeatedly seen as inevitable and developing technology is having a positive impact whether Dusk sees it or not. And the audience is certainly likely to sympathize with the scientist deuteroganist. But on the other hand, the traditional ways of Dusk's people are ultimately shown to have value and in the end it's the insight from them that provides critical insight for the future.
  • Harry Harrison's Alternate History Wank Stars and Stripes Forever features a war between the United States and the British Empire. The Americans are utterly heroic and possess superior technology, representative democracy, a civilised and by-the-book warfare doctrine, and enlightened 21st Century views on race and gender. Opposing them, you have the inhumanly stupid, evil and stereotypical British who shun technological advancement, live under a repressive and backwards medieval-style absolute monarchy, practice Rape, Pillage, and Burn to an extent that would make the Mongols proud, and are deeply racist and sexist. No points for correctly guessing which side Harrison's on.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Star Trek:
    • Very Enlightened, particularly with the Vulcans. Who were, in turn, occasionally proven wrong by more romantic types. Which conveys, if clumsily, the idea that both are right in the right place and wrong in the wrong and the problem is deciding which is which.
    • Klingons and Romulans in some interpretations (as edgy-but-not-necessarily-evil Proud Warrior Race s rather than Always Chaotic Evil races) are more Romantic whereas Vulcans are more Enlightenment, yet they have some surprising Romantic traits like mysticism and dark tribal traditions as was shown in the episode Amok Time (this was even more so in the past, when they came close to destroying themselves, taking a more Enlightened philosophy in response). The humans may actually be the best examples of Enlightenment in the Trek verse.
    • The Borg are a heavily dystopic take on Enlightenment, speedily adapting to every new technology they see and subsuming individuals to make their race stronger. Of course, they're the bad guys, so Romanticism gets its turn in the sun whenever the Borg are the Monster of the Week.
    • If Michael Eddington is anything to go by, the Maquis breakaway from the Federation has elements of Romanticism in conflict with the prevailing Enlightenment ideology of the Federation. Though their initial grievance was the handover of their colonies to the Cardassians, they also value the rugged frontier lifestyle above the utopian society of the Federation.
      Eddington: Why is the Federation so obsessed with the Maquis? We've never harmed you. And yet we're constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation.
  • Gene Roddenberry's posthumously produced series Andromeda has the heroes trying to rebuild a democratic interstellar Commonwealth while fighting Social Darwinist Nietzsche Wannabes, environmental extremists, and other enemies who are harder to place. In one episode the captain convinces a newly crowned feudal monarch to abdicate in favor of a democracy.
  • The X-Files: Mulder is on the Romantic side (being willing to forget Ockham razor in many circumstances) and Scully is on the Enlightened one (always searching for a scientific explanation). However, they swap roles when it comes to religion, since Mulder is agnostic while Scully is a staunch Catholic.
  • Firefly is a deconstruction of this entire trope, with Enlightenment being the major driving force of the 'verse, but Romanticism being an ever-present part of the less developed worlds, like the ones the main characters find themselves on. The episode "Safe", though, seems to be a slap at Romanticism. One of Simon's insults to the crowd that wanted to Burn the Witch! was "ignorance". Simon himself, being a doctor who went to the best Alliance-sanctioned schools, leans hard toward Enlightenment. His (eventual) love interest Kaylee leans very Romantic, which complicates their relationship. The Film of the Series ultimately lands on the Romantic side, as the Enlightenment-minded Alliance attempts to create peace by deliberately destroying the human emotional spectrum, and succeeds in killing 90% of the population of the planet Miranda, condemning the rest to a Fate Worse Than Death as the first Reavers.
  • Doctor Who: Most of the Doctor's chronic enemies are Enlightenment thinkers - the Daleks and the Cybermen had a sort of "Utopian" goal of destroying everything not Dalek or Cyber, the Sontarans are imperialists who have used technology to overcome their biological limitations and the Time Lords are corrupt politicians who put so much faith in history's inevitable development that they never help anyone or change. Yet the Doctor isn't purely a creature of Romanticism either, usually being positioned as following elements of both viewpoints while the villains of the week always overprofessed one or the other. Individual incarnations of the Doctor sometimes tend more towards one or the other; for example, the Tenth Doctor being quite an Enlightenment-centric believer in the power of science and reason, and the Eleventh having more of a Romantic streak with a propensity to make it up as he goes along rather than make logical detailed plans for action. The Third Doctor is probably the most Enlightenment, criticising Linx in "The Time Warrior" for giving humanity technology it hasn't progressed enough for yet and fighting a conspiracy of Evil Reactionaries trying to return the world to a 'golden age' in "Invasion of the Dinosaurs", but even his philosophy involves a certain amount of Buddhism; then he's succeeded by the Fourth Doctor, a Doctor aesthetically inspired by Romantic poets and a spreader of individuality and chaos, who nevertheless makes a point of schooling Leela in the logic and reason her society was not yet developed enough to know about.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Romantic in spirit, with high pitched Melodrama, fantastic scale, prophesies, fate, and Good Old Ways. Moreover Delenn who was one of the most central characters was The McCoy and she didn't really have The Spock to balance her (Franklin was the closest thing to a Spock and he didn't interact with Delenn much).
    • On the other hand, B5 also presents a struggle for a better, more rational future, and emphasizes the importance both of backward-looking rootedness (in the Minbari) and of forward-looking independence (in the humans). In the other words, a happy marriage of Romanticism and Enlightenment, embodied in the similarly happy marriage of John Sheridan and Delenn.
    • From a Doylist perspective, J. Michael Straczynski is an emphatic liberal, a deep-seated believer in science, and a thoughtful atheist (i.e. all Enlightenment) who nevertheless clearly has deep respect for thoughtful conservatives/traditionalists and people of faith even as he criticizes the excesses of religion. In other words, Enlightenment respecting Romanticism and giving it its due-and given that much of B5 is at least partly an Author Tract, this comes the closest to expressing the show's overall tone.
  • NUMB3RS might be a poster boy show for Enlightenment but Larry Flinhardt is a romantic and often has friendly tension with Charlie about this.
  • Lost has this as a central conflict with Jack representing the Enlightenment and Locke (ironically, given his namesake was a pillar of the Enlightenment) representing Romanticism. Ultimately Romanticism wins, as Locke turns out to have been right about everything, as Jack admits.
  • Top Gear:
    • The Presenters: Jeremy is strongly Romantic, James is strongly Enlightenment, and Richard is in the middle but perhaps leans slightly towards Romantic.
    • Perhaps best shown in this one episode which pitted the American-made Corvette ZR1 against the German-made Audi R8. Even though he considered the R8 to be far superior in almost every technical respect and gave the ZR1 a verbal thrashing, he eventually came to the conclusion that given the choice, he'd take the ZR1, because the R8 was too joyless.
    "Be in no doubt, then. that the Audi is a better car. It's better built, better to look at, better to drive, more comfortable, easier to park and - in the real world - faster. You'd have to be bonkers to buy the Corvette. And that is why you should. "
    • Heck, it comes up when comparing a lot of cars and brands as well. For example, Italian cars (such as Alfa Romeo and Ferrari) tend towards Romanticism; artsy and full of soul and passion. American cars (like the Corvette and the Ford Mustang) would also qualify on the Romantic side: they're often considered cheap or of inferior quality but are very fun to drive and appealing to look at. German (Audi, BMW, Merc etc) and Japanese (Nissan, Lexus) cars tend towards Enlightenment, being boring to drive but are usually very technologically advanced. British cars (Aston Martin, Jaguar) tend towards the middle, with a lean towards Romantic: they're of high build quality, but in a more "craftsmanship" way, and they're very soulful like the Italian cars.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Variant. It turns out that HYDRA is split into two major factions: The descendants of the original ancient cult that worships the Inhuman Hive and wants to bring it back from exile, and Red Skull's splinter group. While both factions work together on a regular basis, the religious HYDRA derides Red Skull's faction as cowards and faithless for refusing to participate in their sacrifices, while the Red Skull faction sees the cult as fools for trusting in an ancient religion instead of science and reason. Both sides are still equally evil.

    Music 
  • An interesting example of Romanticism harmonizing with the Enlightenment: Ludwig van Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, especially its final movement (the famous "Ode to Joy"). The music is by Beethoven, who defined Romanticism in music, and the Ninth Symphony is very much a Romantic work. However, the sentiments Beethoven expresses are firmly Enlightened, and indeed the text of the "Ode to Joy" is a barely-reworked version of a poem by Schiller, one of the few indisputably Enlightenment poets, with the theme of universal brotherhood and peace and people coming together in joy.
  • Cat Stevens:
    • "Father and Son" portrays both the Enlightenment, with the rational, restrained father, and Romanticism, with the passionate son who feels restricted by his father. Since the son seems to be a more sympathetic figure, the song is decidedly Romantic.
    • "Where Do the Children Play?" is strongly Romantic too, as it laments the destruction of nature that comes with "development."
    • On the other hand, "Peace Train" is definitely Enlightenment, with its focus on progress and a good future.
  • The Beatles (Romantic) and The Rolling Stones (Enlightenment).
    • The Beatles sang songs about friendship, life, love and desire, and often sang it from the persona of good-natured Nice Guy and pivoted on an image of idealized love.
    • The Stones sang songs about how hard, painful and nasty relationships could actually be, sung from the persona of womanizers, sleazebags and Bastard Boyfriend.
  • Heavy Metal tends to be Romantic, with its dramatic style, over-the-top EpicRiffs, and lyrics about dark, emotionally-charged topics, including history and fantasy/folklore.
    • Metal can run the gamut from the extremes of both ends of the spectrum, however. Melodic Death Metal and Power Metal tend to be at the extreme Romantic end of the spectrum, while some other styles like Progressive Metal can often fall at the extreme Enlightenment end of the spectrum.

    Mythology 
  • In addition to Apollo and Dionysus cited above, a famous rivalry that perfectly encapsulates this debate in Classical Mythology is Athena versus Poseidon. Poseidon is the older god, ruler of the sea and storms, famous for being moody and passionate. Athena, however, is the goddess of strategy, wisdom, justice and peaceful arts, who is perfectly at home in the cosmopolitan city of Athens. Also a pretty nice inversion of Mother Nature, Father Science.
  • The Arthurian Legends, while predating both movements by centuries, can be considered Proto-Enlightenment in that they involve efforts by Arthur and his Round Table to create a more perfect society, Camelot, in a time of Chaos and Darkness that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire. This is especially applicable to the early Chronicles (e.g. Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britainniae) as a way of showing what authors believed to be model societies in the face of ravages of Barbarians and other afflictions in the Post-Roman era.
    • Ironically the Arthurian Legends have also been an inspiration for the Romanticist movement, of which it derives its name from the Medieval Romances, and also brought about a revival in interest in the Arthurian Mythos starting in the Nineteenth Century. Though that is arguably due to the fact that the Romances did not have to address the same issues earlier authors.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Traveller hit both, depending. But it was probably more enlightenment.
    • The Forever War between the Sword Worlders and the Darrians is a war of hats of Romanticism versus Enlightenment, as the Sword Worlders are a Proud Warrior Race and the Darrians are For Science!. Each thinks the other barely sane. The Third Imperium is more enlightened in it's ideology on the whole, it is feudal on the interstellar level but only because it is too large to expect anyone to climb to the top in one lifetime, individual planets are largely left to themselves and can have any local government from democracy to dictatorship.
    • Aslan, though are more Romanticist than the Imperium. Having much more in common with the Sword Worlders save that their social structures have barely progressed beyond tribal levels.
    • In the Intersteller Wars the Terrans are mostly Enlightenment being For Science! and thinking Good Republic, Evil Empire. They do have some romantic traits like glory seeking and Space Cossacks. Vilani are harder to place; they are closer to strains of thought that existed long before either romanticism or enlightenment, resembling Confucianism in some ways.
    • The Hivers are quite firmly enlightenment, having a society that can be best described as "anarchic socialism" and being not only highly technologically advanced but also quite willing to share it with less fortunate races.
    • The Zhodani don't fit neatly into either position; they have an Orwellian police state that's apparently a fairly nice place to live, if you have psionic abilities or don't mind having your mind read by the authorities.
    • The Reformation Coalition following the fall of the Third Imperium has two major voting blocks, Centrists advocate a more centralized government along the lines of the feudal technocracies that govern most of their worlds, while Federalists prefer it more decentralized and democratic.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, enlightenment ideas are basically deemed as heresy by the Imperium of Man which is ripe with religious fundamentalism and xenophobia. This comes across as extremely ironic as the Emperor of Man tried to squash superstition in favor of the ideals of reason and logic in order to starve the chaos gods, only for his Imperium to degenerate into what he fought against after thousands of years.
    • Emotions are what also feed the chaos gods. As a mater of fact, it was the excess indigence and pleasures of the Eldar that gave birth to a chaos god and led to their fall.
    • The only "enlightened" might be the Tau, who are idealists that believe in spreading the enlightened ideals of the greater good across the galaxy. The Tau are also the only major race that will consider diplomacy.
    • All in all, while the excess of Romanticism is NECESSARY for the survival of the galaxy (enlightenment won't help much in this setting), 40K can be looked at as a Take That towards the ideal, showing the Crapsack World that can result in a universe not based upon progress and reason.
  • The Old World of Darkness is heavily Romantic. Civilization is essentially decadent and corrupt and just a tool for this or that Ancient Conspiracy of supernatural beings to manipulate or feed upon Apathetic Citizens. Elder vampires use their awesome power to maintain their autocratic authority against their rebellious younger childer. Brutal Noble Savage werewolves rage against evil corporations in league with Eldritch Abominations trying to pollute and destroy Mother Earth. Mages engage in a centuries old battle of Magic Versus Science with the heroic player characters losing against the evil technocratic villains. Changelings long to return to Arcadia but never can and must face dying out from the lack of belief in the supernatural among the humans. The Fallen have broken out of Hell only to find a world (which they helped to Create) utterly devoid of faith, God, and Her angels.
    • At the same time, whenever the authors start to explore the default antagonists, it often turns out that the Strawman Has a Point and the Enlightenment-themed opposition isn't so Obviously Evil after all. Each group of antagonists will generally Kick the Dog enough to avoid becoming a mere Designated Villain, but the only Always Chaotic Evil enemies in the universe's otherwise Grey and Gray Morality tend to be more Romantic in disposition: Baali deliberately embrace classical evils, Earthbound demons lack the capacity to move beyond their Torment, and there are various other Leaking Cans of Evil that were natural parts of the universe dating back to antiquity... or through all of time.
      • Civilization might serve the Ancient Conspiracy of the vampiric elders, but the advancement of science and technology are frequently presented as the first and final hope for overcoming the oppression of these old monsters that cannot change or adapt. The Sabbat are only effective at their stated goal of opposing the ancients when they leverage their flexibility and capacity to think in new ways.
      • The Werewolves have fared miserably in their war against the Wyrm largely due to hidebound traditions and old grudges (the /newest/ of which are still centuries old). Meanwhile, the Wyrm only started lashing out once it had been driven mad by the Weaver... who bound it up in hopes of creating a world where nothing ever changes.
      • The technocratic paradigm has provided humanity with wonders that would otherwise have been accessible only to the Awakened and is also the single greatest source of strength for the spiritual barriers that hold back the worst of the game universe's Cosmic Horror Story and allow mankind to live in a "mere" Crapsack World. Plus, they support an army of Space Marines whose main objective is the defense of Earth against all manner of supernatural evil and who (depending on the source) are more or less friendly towards traditionalist Mages.
      • If the winter of the changelings were to find its way to a new spring, The Fair Folk they would then become would be a blight on mankind.
      • The Fallen only exist because a faction of angels led by the Morningstar wanted to reach out and free humanity from ignorance despite God insisting that they let Eden remain exactly as it was (and subsequently being a spiteful dick about it).
  • By contrast, the New World of Darkness tends to take a far more Enlightened turn when it touches on these themes, though it generally tries to avoid taking an overt side between the two (because the oWoD was seen as overly-politicized, to the detriment of the line). Mage: The Awakening appears to be Romantic at first glance with its longing for a lost Atlantis and its focus on the power of symbolism, but the Seers of the Throne rely on anti-rationalism for temporal power, and serve their masters by preventing humans from looking for something greater and achieving their true potential; in other words, the villains draw upon Romanticism for power. Similarly, the Pure Tribes' ideology is based on looking back to a fallen Father Wolf and trying to resurrect a lost Pangaea. However, while the villains are nearly always Romanticist when they have an ideology, the heroes tend to include both Romanticist and Enlightened viewpoints in their ranks (and squabble over them).
    • In Vampire: The Requiem the Invictus and Lancea Sanctum are Romanticist while the Carthians and Ordo Dracul are Enlightenment. The Invictus and Carthians are particularly opposed, being vampiric aristocrats and revolutionaries who seek to try out virtually every other form of government. Curiously in Invictus-run cities the Carthians tend to be the least amoral vampires, while Carthian-run cities tend to run downhill at record speeds.
  • Exalted does a lot with these opposing ideals despite it not being a core theme. If there are two factions trying to do the same job but with different means and goals, there's a very good chance that they'll be divided along this line.
    • In the Time of Tumult, the Gold and Bronze factions are divided about the return of the Solars. The Gold Faction wants to restore the Solars to power so that their peerless genius and innovation can make for a better world. The Bronze Faction opposes the Solars' return, trying to keep Creation as it was for the whole of the Second Age: safe from the wild, dangerous extremes of Solar overlords.
    • The Realm and Lookshy is largely about this. Lookshy held to the old, lingering ways of the Shogunate while the Scarlet Empress forged a new path for the Realm out of the Shogunate's ruins, challenging even the Sidereals with her audacity.
    • The Scarlet Empress' two most probable successors are much the same: her centuries-old daughter Mnemnon is a Sorceress known for pushing the mystical envelope as far as she possibly can, reaching great advances in power through often-sketchy means. When the young, charismatic Roseblack finally resolves to return home with her army, meanwhile, she plans to seek a return to the ways of the Shogunate rather than move forward with the Realm's empire.
      • Though this conflict can be approached from the opposite direction: Mnemon believes that her right to rule comes in part from being the oldest Dynast currently extant and, all things considered, hasn't changed much about her House's incredibly rigid social structure for centuries. Roseblack, on the other hand, has shown somewhat of a populist streak and is supported by an Army of Thieves and Whores.
    • Even the returning Solars sometimes divide along this line, between those that simply wish to return things to the way they were in the First Age and those who wish to forge an entirely new world of their own design.
  • The old Planescape Dungeons & Dragons setting had the Blood War, a genocidal conflict between two different races of demonic beings. One side supported tyranny, order, infernal justice, conformity, and iron discipline. The other were Axe Crazy maniacs who believed individuality was so important that letting hordes of their own die trying to prove individual worth was better than forcing them to actually act like their more disciplined enemies. Given one side would remake the cosmos into the fantasy version of Dante's Inferno, and the other into Milton's Hell, neither is right. Then, on top of that, there are philosophic "guilds" players can join which grants them power and access, provided they believe as the group does. These groups range from the far-Enlightenment Fraternity of Order to the completely Romantic Society of Sensation. Not only is no one portrayed as right, but even allegiances frequently transcend the conflict. The Athar are Deists in the Jefferson/Locke vein, and their greatest allies are the thoroughly Romantic Believers of the Source - who worry about past lives and ascension.
  • BattleTech has the Inner Sphere, feuding nobles houses who have been in a state of Space Age Stasis for nearly four centuries ever since they nuked each other back to the 20th century. And invading them the Clans, genetically engineered Social Darwinists who have actually made improvements on their tech, even though their Warrior caste act like Bronze Age savages.
  • Magic: The Gathering has this dichotomy between the colors of mana. Generally (though not uniformly), red and green are romanticist with a focus on emotions, freedom, instincts, tradition and so forth, while white and blue are enlightened with a focus on order, law, curiosity, intelligence and so on. Black uses traits of both sides to further its own goals.

    Theatre 
  • Phantom of the Opera has a very Romanticist bent, with its titular tragic Byronic Hero denied so much because of his deformity, but looking it with an Enlightened perspective and you see... an abusive exploitative murderous Stalker with a Crush who is actually the Villain Protagonist.
  • Athenian Drama:
    • Aeschylus's The Oresteia explores the fall of the House of Atreus from an Enlightened perspective, focusing on the inevitability of fate, and the laws of family and Cycle of Revenge, the finale explores the theme of forgiveness and redemption, and when Orestes takes refuge at the Agora and appeals to Athena against the implacable Furies, depicts a transition from the harsh judgment of the Gods to the rational working of Laws.
    • Sophocles is generally Romantic, emphasizing the cruel workings of fate as in Oedipus Rex, emphasizing that the pursuit of knowledge can be destructive. His Antigone likewise is a tragedy of a young woman choosing the laws of family and blood over that of the state and custom.
    • Euripides is generally Pro-Enlightenment with some Romantic streaks. His plays focus on the horrors of warfare, the suffering of women and generally portray Gods and deities in a manner that makes them human and accessible.
    • Aristophanes is a Romantic satirist criticizing the pursuit of knowledge, parodying democratic assemblies and generally suggesting that Democracy Is Bad.
  • Over the years, the works of William Shakespeare have been read, edited, and interpreted to better reflect the prevailing philosophy of the time.
    • The English Enlightenment-era theaters in England and the Continent emphasized the perfection of the language, and would recut and restage his works to better reflect Aristotle's Rules of Drama. Later Enlightenment writers such as Samuel Johnson in England and German Idealists however regarded Shakespeare as a true original for his violation of the unities. The Enlightenment critics generally, but not exclusively, favoured the history plays, the tragedies but neglected and/or rejected the "problem plays" such as The Tempest which didn't fit in as either comic or tragic.
    • The Romantics heightened the aspects of passion, horror, and raging emotion to be found in the plays and latched on to those "problem plays". They also regarded Hamlet as Shakespeare's masterpiece, a judgment that has generally held up and admired Othello, King Lear (which before them was generally seen as a controversial play).
    • The Henriad has been especially susceptible to this. The prevailing interpretations before the 20th Century was that it was a Coming of Age Hero's Journey (avant-la-lettre) of a dissolute Prince who tags alongside a Corrupt Knight Falstaff who gradually comes to fulfill his Kingly father's ambitions and eventually becomes a great Warrior King (Romantic). Orson Welles' Chimes at Midnight sees Falstaff as a Loveable Coward who represents the End of an Age (Merrie England of Rogues, Taverns and Minions of the Moon) while seeing Prince Hal as a machiavellian Manipulative Bastard who uses Falstaff and gradually becomes a warmongering tyrant. (Enlightened)
  • When compared to his contemporaries, Shakespeare is more Romantic in form and content than Christopher Marlowe who is essentially Enlightened.
    • A good example is to compare the highly problematic anti-semitic masterpieces of The Merchant of Venice and The Jew of Malta. The former play presents a Jewish stereotype who has sympathetic motivations and voices them in eloquent speeches but ultimately remains the villain to be sidelined by the pious Christian heroine (Portia) who appeals to the mercy and the spirit of the law rather than its harsh letter. The latter play presents a Jewish stereotype as Villain Protagonist in an Evil Versus Evil situation where every other authority (Christian and Muslim) are amoral backstabbers who use "religion as a childish toy" and who eloquently argues that all his evil actions come out because Society Is to Blame and nobody can claim any idea to be inherently merciful.
    • Shakespeare's history plays and tragedies (Richard III, Macbeth) tend to be highly individualistic character pieces with some amount of moral commentary about Order Versus Chaos and usually ends with the Rightful King Returns (Romantic). Marlowe's Edward II on the other hand is a Hyperlink Story with Loads and Loads of Characters that shows feudalism to be inherently chaotic, filled with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder, good characters dying unheroically in piteous circumstances, villains dying nobly, and the rightful boy king (Edward III) left cold, alone and Lonely at the Top while lamenting his loss of innocence.(Enlightened)
    • Doctor Faustus likewise is a much darker and colder look at the occult and the supernatural than Shakespeare's The Tempest and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Marlowe realistically shows what a thinking person would react to the existence and arrival of the supernatural, the loss of faith and finally even hints at a Cosmic Horror Story that Hell could simply be the world we live in.
  • Henrik Ibsen was Enlightened, emphasizing social criticisms, problems with traditional roles of women and family and difficulties faced by reformers in works like Hedda Gabbler and An Enemy of the People. August Strindberg however was Romantic, dealing with dreams, difficult and painful relationships and self-destructive individuals.
  • Bertolt Brecht was Enlightenment in form: critical of narrative, story and advocating Viewers Are Geniuses and refusing to allow audiences to identify with his characters superficially. His Galileo is fascinating for the fact that it is critical of traditional ideas of a science's responsibility to society while at the same time mocking romantic attitudes of Holding Out for a Hero.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect:
    • Overall, it portrays an Enlightenment-based future, with benign technological advances and an orderly galactic government, though the Citadel government also imposes restrictions on genetic modification and AI research. The outlook of your crew varies— they include Romanticists like the Whitman-spouting Ashley and Enlightened like Mordin Solus who justifies aiding in the Krogan sterility plague with utilitarian logic. Paragon Shep's egalitarian views and support for the Citadel hint at an Enlightened streak. Renegade Shepard meanwhile represents the more pro human and pragmatic Knight in Sour Armor and Totalitarian Utilitarian aspects of of Enlightenment.
    • The main trilogy's storyline also presents a conflict between Romanticism and Enlightenment. The central conflict of the story is a Robot War, and the first game generally plays the Romanticist A.I. Is a Crapshoot trope straight, though there are some hints that the organics' bigotry may be partly to blame for the conflict with some of the synthetics, like the geth and the rogue AI on the Citadel. This gets subverted in the next two games, and many conversations touch on the themes of organic and synthetic evolution, and that the two may not be mutually exclusive. The Synthesis ending of the third game takes that idea to its logical conclusion, and as such may be considered the ultimate Enlightened ending.
  • Halo: Oddly enough. In particular, this whole spectrum of thought is speculated on and brought out in Halo 3's hidden Terminals. These Terminals tell the story of the struggle between the Flood and the Forerunners, with the Flood presenting its invasion as necessary for life's eventual evolution as a ultimate species and as a stage in evolution for the universe as a whole eventually. On the other side, the Forerunners keep the stand that they are guardians for the genetic diversity in the galaxy and should impend any step in evolution if necessary to keep that diversity, even if flawed and eventually self-destructive at times.
  • Fallout: New Vegas features Caesar's Legion as the Romantics, and NCR and Mr. House as the Enlightenment. You, as the Wildcard possible fourth endgame victor, can go either way as fitting your Wildcard nature.
  • Touhou is weird about this. The youkai that make up the vast majority of the cast literally depend on romanticism to survive, needing to be believed in and gaining power from the natural order being observed. But there's a general trend of an ordered society forming, and one of the major factions is working to increase the technological level.
  • Planescape: Torment includes a conversation between a demon (chaotic evil) and a devil (lawful evil) about which is the right way to spread evil. The parallel to this trope is conspicuous, with the demon giving the romanticist argument that evil is worthless if it stripped of passion, and the devil making the enlightened argument that evil is just a mob's rioting if it is not ordered.
  • R-Type, in spite of being a simple shoot 'em up genre, bears a hint of Romanticism, which the Bydo embed themselves in, against the Enlightened background of advanced technologies the R-Fighters represent.
  • Pokémon Black and White has Opelucid City as well as their exclusive location based on either, depending on the version; Black has Black City with Opelucid City being high-tech (Enlightenment) while White version has White Forest with Opelucid City being eco-friendly (Romanticism). And meanwhile, in Black you can obtain Reshiram, symbolizing the older brother who sided with truth (Enlightenment), while in White you can obtain Zekrom, symbolizing the younger brother who sided with ideals (Romanticism).
  • Pathologic has The Bachelor (Enlightenment) and The Haruspex (Romanticism) against each other to save the Polyhedron or the town at the end.
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind has the highly ritualistic Chimer versus the rigid and atheistic Dwemer, thousands of years before the game is set. The Dwemer are certainly aware of the existence of the Daedra the Chimer worship, but are steadfast in their belief that the Daedra are not gods; so much so that Vivec facetiously commented that the Dwemer instead worshiped "their Gods of Reason and Logic." Not that this did the Dwemer any good; screwing with the base fabric of the Universe caused them all to disappear... somewhere. Not a single person in existence knows what happened to them, and if anyone does, they're not telling.
  • In Guilty Gear, Enlightenment ideas and technological science are basically deemed illegal and labelled "Black Technology" by the United Nations since it harms the environment, which is ripe with religious fundamentalism, nazism and xenophobia. This comes across as extremely ironic as magic and the Gear Project were designed for human evolution, only for them to backfire horribly when they began to be used for human greed, resulting in the Crusades, which in turn resulted in humanity regressing into a Dark Ages-like society. The only "enlightened" might be Zepp, who were originally a Totalitarian Utilitarian government before being overthrown and taken over by Gabriel and subsequently reformed into a more democratic nation.
  • Shin Megami Tensei is a series known for playing with and deconstructing any and every dichotomy with its Law and Chaos factions, so it comes as no surprise that this too enters the mix. Unusually, however, both Law and Chaos manifest different negative sides of each. Law, with its sleek architecture, robot angels and liberal use of Magitek seems very Enlightened, but ultimately promotes very Romantic ideals of Feudalism and Monarchy. Chaos, on the flip-side, is full of Social Darwinists who parrot twisted versions of Enlightened ideals, but ultimately crave the old world ruled by Blood Knights and see any kind of organized government or hierarchy as bad and repressive. The Neutral Path, of course, often shows that there is still value in each - namely, mankind will stagnate if it doesn't keep moving forward, but The Power of Love and Friendship are what make life worth living. However, other examples of Neutrality are non-ideological; they aren't so much about promoting any kind of humanist philosophy as they are about taking down both sides before their fighting can wreck humanity any further.
  • In Fallout 4, the primary conflict is between the East Coast Brotherhood of Steel (Romanticism) and the Institute (Enlightenment). The Institute are a group of Mad Scientists who want to wipe out all traces of the pre-war America and build a brand new society even greater and more advanced than pre-War America, and even replace humans with the Synths. The Brotherhood thinks that pre-War society should be held in reverence, even basing themselves on the feudal societies of medieval Europe, and they think the Synths are abominations and want only to see them all destroyed (though this view extends to Ghouls and Super Mutants as well). You can, of course, Take a Third Option. The Minutemen and Railroad are both mostly Romantic and Enlightened, respectively, with different takes on the same idea, with the Minutemen being an orderly Big Good bringing back classic American ideals of liberty and self-reliance while dressing as Revolutionary War-era rebels, while the Railroad are Rebellious Rebels fighting for Synth freedom and changing wasteland society so Synths can be seen as fellow humans with equal rights.
  • In Final Fantasy III, the conflict of Light versus Darkness is played this way. You play as the Heroes of Light who must fight the destructive force of Darkness, represented in game by the Romantic Xande cursing the world due to his anger at being forced to live amongst humans. However, centuries ago, the Heroes of Darkness had been forced to fight the destructive force of Light, when the Enlightened Ancients developed technology so powerful that it threatened to destroy the world. At the end of the game, you even get to team up with the four Heroes of Darkness, who are good and brave people who help you take down the Power of the Void.
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, the Purity affinity qualifies as strongly Romantic with its reverence for the past and message of retaining the classic human identity, while the Supremacy affinity is strongly Enlightenment in flavour with its message of technological progress and redefining the concept of humanity via cybernetic Transhumanism. Harmony, with its message of living in tune with the alien environment and altering human physiology towards this end, either qualifies as neither or both depending on your interpretation.

    Webcomics 
  • xkcd is Enlightened. As the Existentialist says, "The future's pretty cool!"
  • Gunnerkrigg Court. The Court is Enlightened; Gillitie Woods is Romantic.
  • Girl Genius is a strange hybrid. It's about science fiction and solving problems with machinery, which is sort of Enlightenment ... but it's "adventure, romance, and mad science!, with tones of gothic, Frankenstein, and Lovecraftian mythos ... but all the Sparks have a strong manic streak, so they're happy and cheerful amid the doom, destruction, and tentacled horrors. It's just that kind of a story.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Romantic movement produced a lot of good poets. Like, a lot of them: John Keats, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, William Wordsworth, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
  • On the other side of the coin, the Anglo-American and early French Enlightenments (in contrast to the German and late French Enlightenments) tended towards the Humans Are Bastards perspective, which led to a fair number of good satirists, such as Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin.
  • The Enlightenment also produced a few poets, the most notable of whom were Germans: Friedrich von Schiller is more or less entirely Enlightenment, while Goethe's work has shades of both.
  • Soren Kierkegaard, considered the first existentialist philosopher, was overwhelmingly Romanticist in outlook, going so far as to openly scorn Enlightenment philosophy, which is ironic because 20th Century existentialist philosophy was largely Enlightened.
  • The late 18th century saw two major Enlightenment-inspired revolutions, The American Revolution and The French Revolution, both resulting in experimental republics showcasing Enlightenment ideas on governance.
  • World War II. On one hand, Fascism, Nazism and nationalism have roots in Romanticism and an emphasis on folk bloodlines, love/worship of the Fatherland, and history (Hitler in particular had a Wagnerian Opera-like worldview), while democracy and communism are cosmopolitan ideologies supported by rationalists, empiricists, utilitarians and other Enlightenment philosophers, making the conflict a case of Romanticism vs. Enlightenment.
    • On the other hand, the Nazis justified themselves with Evolutionary Levels, favored eugenics (which was considered Enlightened at the time) and wanted the world to conform under their rule for (what the party thought was) the best future for humanity, while the allies were defending individual nation states from an expanding empire, making the conflict a case of Enlightenment vs. Romanticism in that way as well. Even the Soviet Union took a sharp turn towards Romanticism, bringing back the ideas of patriotism backed with religious faith as the common people were more motivated to fight for their Motherland rather than the Communist ideology.
    • In a similar sense, the Spanish Civil War between the Nationalists (conservatives/monarchists/fascists) and the Republicans (liberals/anarchists/communists/socialists) could be considered a conflict of Romanticism versus Enlightenment.
  • Both representative democracy and communism are different spins on the same Enlightenment ideas, equality for the masses, with some ethical hedonism and meritocracy thrown in. The result being that the Cold War was an uncommon case of Enlightenment vs. Enlightenment, or as it later came to be articulated, moderate reform based on representative institutions (US, Skeptic-Enlightenment) and radical, sudden transformation of institutions and societies from the ground up (USSR, Utopian-Romantic). But then again, almost all Political Ideologies on the political spectrum are different characteristics of Enlightenment thought, since these debates first played out back then.
    • Libertarian capitalism and classical liberalism is rooted in Skeptical Enlightenment ideals since it asserts that all humans are good at heart, and so sudden changes are too much too fast, and its better for a more moderate system that encourages education and meritocracy.note  Social democrats, social liberals and moderate socialists generally wish to bring about a more egalitarian society which to its critics tends to anti-individualism. They are usually secular and scientific (natural and social sciences) take part in protests and believe in a strong central government that regulates the economy, and promotes progressive reforms as and when necessary (Enlightenment). Conservatives might be known for their yearning of the past and strong religious views such as being "pro life" (Romanticism), but this is coupled with their support for free markets and strong militaries (Enlightenment). European conservatives tend to be more explicitly Romantic, especially when they advocate the restoration of monarchy and aristocracy, or in modern times the sustenance of a strong bureaucratic and technocratic elite (Enlightenment Values for Romantic Ends).
    • Fascists have been known for their anti-intellectual rhetoric and support for traditional values (Romanticism), but also support loyalty to the state and discipline (Enlightenment) which is fair since modern fascism began as an attempt to co-opt the features and forms of socialist organizations of the past and present, including loyal partisan identity, strong ideological coherence and efficient organization. Conservative parties were not as effectively organized and ideologically coherent in the past.
    • Anarchism as a whole, to paraphrase the founder of anarcho-syndicalism Rudolf Rocker, can be thought of as a synthesis of an Enlightenment philosophy (classical liberalism) with a Romantic philosophy (socialism), incorporating the belief in progress and individual liberty from the former, and the support for social egalitarianism and cooperation from the latter. Hence the alternative name for anarchism-libertarian socialism. Though different strands of anarchism lean more towards one or the other. For example, individualist anarchists, post-left anarchists, and anarcho-primitivists are Romantics who tend to dislike the ideals of the Enlightenment and think that on the whole it's made the world worse and not better. On the other hand, social anarchists, anarcho-communists, and social ecologists see their ideas as originating in Enlightenment humanism and dismiss Romantic influences on the left-libertarian movement as mere "lifestyle anarchists", more interested in personal rebellion than effective social change.
    • The Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street can be thought of as Romantic movements. In terms of actual ideologies, the Tea Party is more romantic, with its strong love of the past and traditional values. While Occupy Wall Street has been likened to the Hippie movements of the 1960's, its criticisms of capitalist accumulation, tax breaks, unemployment are far more specific towards economic inequality than the vague invocations of "free love", as noted by Noam Chomsky. Both are critical of states, but each have opposing attitudes towards capitalism.
  • Winston Churchill was closer to being a Romantic while Roosevelt was more Enlightenment.
  • Organic Farming (Romanticism) vs. GM Farming (Enlightenment). Science based medicine (Enlightenment) vs. complementary/alternative medicine (Romanticism). Nuclear Energy (Enlightenment) vs. Renewable Energy (Romanticism)note , Traditional Architecture: Neoclassical (Enlightenment) vs. Gothic (Romanticism), note , 20th-century Architecture: Modernism (Enlightenment) vs. Post-Modernism (Romanticism).
  • The most common stereotype of the environmental movement consists of liberal Romanticist hippies fighting against industrial titans. However, the movement is actually strongly divided between Romantic and Enlightened wings over issues like nuclear power and genetic engineering (supported by Enlightened and opposed by Romantic environmentalists). The opposition is even more complicated; the messages usually take Enlightened forms (such as questioning the science behind climate change), but in America in particular, anti-environmentalism often consciously draws upon Anti-Intellectualism for its support.
  • Sigmund Freud saw himself as a man of The Enlightenment, extending the scientific method to the realms previously relegated to philosophy and literature. Although a trained neurologist himself, he regarded existing methods and tools to be inadequate in articulating the mental process, and so resorted to methods like Talking Cure, analyzing language and dreams, memories and other features that led many to regard psychoanalysis as pseudo-scientific and heterodox.
    • In practical terms, Freudian psychology was individualistic (Romantic), articulating that every person was messed up in a specific way that there was no one single method to cure trauma, and that a cure might not even be desirable since those neuroses actually shaped some of our positive attributes, but also deterministic (Enlightenment): shaped by family, society and other environmental factors, and the ultimate goal is self-understanding and dealing with your past and present and accepting that we are less rational than we believe ourselves to be. Marxists (enlightened advocates) were critical of Freud for his emphasis on the individual self's innate non-conformity and they saw Freud as essentially Romanticnote .
    • Psychiatry with its reliance on pills and more visible scientific grounding, and overall positivismnote  runs on a kind of utopian Enlightenment, i.e. the idea that our problems can be solved permanently. Neuroscience led by Erich Kandel on the other hand uses modern scientific study and greater access to brain studies, to essentially reframe many of Freud's ideas about the unconscious in scientific terms, since technology had caught up to test Freud's ideas.
  • Carl Jung who disagreed with Freud for leaving out the more spiritual and mystical archetypes in human psychology was more Romantic, which is the main reason Freud criticized him for. Campbell's The Hero With A Thousand Faces about comparative mythical traditions is naturally more Romantic given it's subject and its Jungian inspirations.
  • Analytic Philosophy (Enlightenment) and Continental Philosophy (Romanticism) at least in the eyes of Bertrand Russell. Continental philosophers on the other hand see themselves very much in the spirit of Enlightenment, and their emphasis on argument from first principles and constant engagement with society lead them to form the social sciences.
  • The 1960s was a mixture of both. The "hippie" counterculture, with its wild, passionate lifestyle, its rejection of society and materialism in favor of more bohemian ways, and its glorification of nature, was decidedly Romanticist. Meanwhile, the civil rights movement occurred at the same time, and that movement leaned toward the Enlightenment, with its focus on equality and progress. Many people were involved in both the counterculture and the civil rights movement, proving that Enlightenment and Romanticism can coexist peacefully, at least until the Hippie movement fell out for its Double Standard on women's rights, tended to cults led by Charles Manson and Jim Jones, and generally fractured over inevitable disillusionment rather than long-term commitments.
  • One of the more common justifications of European Colonialism is that the imperial powers were spreading the benefits of the European science and technology (the Enlightenment) while at the same time seeking to explore and preserve the traditional cultures of the colonized (Romanticism) while degrading the real people who lived there at the same time by abusing their use of the media to the rest of the world. This hollow justification when measured against the reality of what happened on the ground (brutal destruction of local businesses with no compensation, eroding their market base to create support for their goods) tended to be submerged thanks to the Adventure Archaeologist derived from a Romanticist longing for adventure in distant lands, finding artifacts from locales and bringing it to the mother nation of these powers. This romanticizing of exploitation was gradually exposed in post-colonial writings by Edward Said, who worked in the tradition of the Enlightenment to criticize Orientalism, a predominant trope in Romanticist painting and literature.
  • Currency: Some Romanticists claim that gold is a historically sound form of currency while many Enlightened see it as Worthless Yellow Rocks, preferring a fiat currency. Some Romanticists oppose all currency in general as dehumanizingly bureaucratic, elitist, and the root of all evil. They may instead prefer a group where necessities had to be shared for mutual survival, a la "barter" or "primitive communism". Some Enlightened people oppose fiat currency and the Federal Reserve system in general, seeing it as nothing more than paper printed and falsely loaned away to unsuspecting people, causing inflation and making the people think they have to repay debt when there is nothing to repay. Some Enlightened people prefer communism, others opt for energy-based currency because Equivalent Exchange cannot suffer inflation. Still other Enlightened people think that things such as class and currency are nothing more than necessary evils brought on by scarcity and hunger, that can be disposed off once technology and robotics become advanced enough to eliminate the need for labor (this was a point championed by Karl Marx himself).
  • You would think that software developers would tilt completely toward Englightenment, but this thing also crops up there with the free and open source movements on the Romantic side and proprietary developers on the Enlightened. Open source developers generally avoid things like detailed software designs, documentation (when they can get away with it) and testing. Proprietary developers produce a lot of useful software as well, but their development processes tend to be very bureaucratic and their programs very large.
    • The phrase "Everything's A Remix" is definitely Romantic along with works like RIP: A Remix Manifesto and so on.
  • Russian occultist and Putin advisor Alexander Dugin's ideology is heavily romanticist mixing technology pessimism with strong emphasis on tradition and lore about ancient conspiracies.

Alternative Title(s): Romanticism Vs Enlightenment

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RomanticismVersusEnlightenment