Some of the most prominent characteristics of Dark Romanticism include an emphasis on human fallibility along with the embodiment of terrifying themes and symbols and the exploration of psychological effects regarding guilt and sin. Along with Dark Romanticism, Transcendentalism was another prominent subgenre during the American Renaissance.
Dark Romanticism stems from the pessimistic tendencies in Transcendentalism as well as influence garnered from the previous Romantic literary movement. However, its true birth comes from the mid-19th century as a reaction to the American Transcendental movement. Transcendentalism started as a protest against the general culture and society at the time, with intellectuals including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau. Examples of Dark Romanticism among related authors, such as Herman Melville, Edgar Allen Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Emily Dickinson, include the raven, a symbol of death and hopelessness in Edgar Allen Poe's poem, "The Raven," and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," where the main character only becomes violent after the betrayal of his creator, scientist Victor Frankenstein.