The chief features of romantic criticism may be summarized as follows:
(i) Romantic criticism ignores rules whether of Aristotle or Horace or of the French and emphasizes that works of literature are to be judged on the basis of the impression they produce, and not with reference to any rules. It is impressionistic and individualistic, and freedom of inquiry is its keynote.
(ii) It is concerned with the fundamentals, such as the nature of poetry, and its functions, and not merely with the problems of style, diction or literary genres. It is neither legislative nor judicial. It is concerned mainly with the theory of poetry, and the process of poetic creation.
(iii) Imagination is emphasized both as the basis of creation and of judgment on what is created. It is imagination which leads to the production of great works of art. Shakespeare is great because his works are the product of imagination. Pope is not great as he is deficient in this respect. The critic also must primarily be gifted with imagination; only then can he appreciate the beauty of work of art.
(iv) Views on Poetic diction and versification undergo a radical change. Simplicity is emphasized both in theme and treatment.
(v) Romantic criticism is creative. It is as much the result of imagination as works of literature Critics express their views after entering imaginatively into the thoughts and feelings off writers whose works they may be examining.
(vi) The influence of Wordsworth and Coleridge was far-reaching.