The archenemy and destroyer of Romanticism was the altruist morality.
Since Romanticism’s essential characteristic is the projection of values,
particularly moral values, altruism introduced an insolvable conflict into
Romantic literature from the start. The altruist morality cannot be practiced
(except in the form of self-destruction) and, therefore, cannot be projected or
dramatized convincingly in terms of man’s life on earth (particularly in the
realm of psychological motivation). With altruism as the criterion of value and
virtue, it is impossible to create an image of man at his best—“as he might be
and ought to be.” The major flaw that runs through the history of Romantic
literature is the failure to present a convincing hero, i.e., a convincing
image of a virtuous man.