The Best (and Probably Worst) Romance Tropes

By: romance-novelIsabelle Resnick

When it comes to genre, there is an implicit contract between writer and reader, producer and audience. A reader has certain expectations when he or she picks up a romance novel, for example; its elements —a destiny meeting, unrequited feelings, a relationship-threatening obstacle — are different from that of a mystery or sci-fi series. To break the genre’s conventions is to break trust with the reader. We tend to pick up books of certain genres because we know they will tell the stories we want to read.

The best (and worst) thing about genre conventions is the tropes that come with them. There are the tropes authors find difficult to avoid, and the ones we readers love to hate (and vice versa). Many of the following tropes can be found in romance novels, but fanfiction writers in particular are notorious for sprinkling these elements into their stories.

Fanfiction /fanˈfikSH(ə)n/: prose that lovers of make-believe grace us with when they write continuations and reinterpretations of the stories we know and love.

These writers don’t hold back when it comes to romantic clichés, a guilty pleasure I am not afraid to admit to. In no particular order, here are the best (and probably worst) young adult novel and fanfiction tropes within the romance genre:

  1. Fake Boyfriend/Girlfriend: We saw this trope in the film, The Wedding Date, and in books like The Deal by Elle Kennedy. One of the first works of fanfiction I ever read was called “My Fake Boyfriend Harry Styles,” and it opened the Pandora’s box to my love of cheesy and unrealistic tropes. The premise is simple: whether it is to keep your family’s nagging at bay, to make someone jealous, or to stage a publicity stunt, two non-lovers, often strangers, must appear as a couple. Through forced handholding and time spent together, the two realize their feelings for one another, and they live happily ever after. (See also: the arranged marriage trope).
  2. The Bad Boy: Who doesn’t love a bad boy? Even the idea of a good girl gone bad is enticing for many audiences (think: Grease’s Sandy Olsson), but the Danny Zuko’s of the fiction world are far more common. They come in many forms, like Noah Shaw in the Mara Dyer series and many a fanfiction’s Draco Malfoy, especially when paired with the goody-two-shoes Hermione Granger. Yes, that’s a thing. Many of us love the idea of being the one to “change” a bad boy or being the person to make that leather-jacket-wearing, greasy hair-flipping man fall to his knees. Julia Stiles did it to Health Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You. Or did Heath’s character change Julia’s bad girl? Nevertheless, in reality, the “bad” boy or girl may not be the ideal partner, so be wary of trying to carve their stone into the statue of David. (See also: the dating bet).
  3. Best-friends-turned-lovers: He was a boy. She was a girl. Could it be any more obvious? Not in young adult romance, it can’t. The story goes like this: one friend gets involved in his or her first relationship, and the other suddenly realizes he or she has feelings for the other. Chaos and crying ensues. After they help Harry defeat Voldemort in the Battle of Hogwarts, Ron and Hermione realize life is too short to pretend their relationship is anything but platonic. The end.
  4. Enemies-turned-lovers: Ah, the evil twin of best-friends-turned-lovers. This one is all the more enticing. Screaming matches turn into first kisses within a few pages. Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger’s story is not a new concept. You can trace this trope back to Pride and Prejudice, and before that, one would argue Romeo and Juliet, who found love despite the war between their families, the Capulets and Montagues, a 400-year-old example of enemies-turned-lovers.
  5. Forbidden love: I would be remiss to leave out one of the most popular tropes of all time. The forbidden love trope is realized in many of the Disney princess films, including The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, and Beauty and the Beast. The trope is common surrounding groups of people who have historically been unable to mix due to social rules and taboos. Members of different races and religions have in the past been at the center of these novels, and today the forbidden love trope is a common theme in LGBT novels like If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.

One of the biggest criticisms of tropes is the predictability of it all. The key to tackling a trope is to avoid telling the same old story, but there’s nothing wrong with seeking out certain tropes to fulfill your romantic daydreams.

CASE STUDY: Our Best Friends May be Monsters in Hiding

By: Isabelle Resnick


There is an old saying that says, “Good roommates make best friends, but best friends do not make good roommates.”

When you are going to be living with a stranger, it is expected that you might butt heads. The possibilities for who might end up sharing your living space are endless, so who knows what combination of a stranger’s personality traits will become a toxic recipe for disaster? In choosing to live with your best friend, you expect this familiarity to be a safe alternative to the former.

Hannah Rose’s take on living with a longtime friend at Humboldt State University is a strong case against that theory:

When I first moved here, I was so excited to move in to my dorm and to be sharing it with my on-again-off-again best friend. About a month before we moved to Humboldt, we got this handy map of what our apartment looked like, and we were assigned sides of the room. Each side had a number that you were specifically given, and all of the furniture on that side would have that number engraved on it.

My roommate/best friend was lucky enough to get there an hour before me, and, when I arrived, she had moved in on my side. I was furious, but my parents calmed me down and told me I would not want to start my college experience off with an argument.

Fast forward to a few months later, when we got into a HUGE argument about how I go out of my way for her, she walks all over me, and how she doesn’t respect me at all. I bring up the fact that she moved in on my side (thinking that at this point she may decide to apologize), but she almost proudly acknowledges that she did that on purpose because that side had more space and windows.

Later on in the year, I came home from an eight-and-a-half-hour shift at Taco Bell to find her and majority of the close friends I had made freshman year drinking in the room. Some were on my bed, one was in my chair, and I really wanted each and every one of them gone. I just wanted to be alone and relax. So I said hello, grabbed my PJs and books, and went to the living room to study.

Immediately after I left, they started gossiping about me. She went on and on about how awful I was to live with and that I was “such a toxic person to be around.” All of my “friends” were agreeing, and after hearing them talk nonstop about me for five minutes, I walked back in there. She immediately started crying, realizing I had heard, and the other people started asking her if she was okay. I grabbed some of my stuff, and they begged me to stay. I told her not to touch any of my belongings, and I’d move out as soon as possible.

Many things had been leading up to our friendship breaking up, but that was the last straw. In the days following, one of her friends repeatedly texted me asking me to return and talk things out with my roommate. I said no way! Turns out, that woman ended up moving in with my old roommate, and I ran into her last year. She told me that I was right, and that she was completely awful. She apparently been dying her hair a lot in their apartment and got a stain on the carpet. Her new roommate came home to find her painting the carpet brown to try to cover the stains!

At this point, these stories just make me laugh, but oh my, am I glad I just live with my boyfriend and dog now.

If you’d like to learn more about living in close quarters with others, check out our book: The Young Adult’s Guide to Surviving Dorm Life.

Journaling is the New Therapy

notebook-and-penBy: Isabelle Resnick

Okay, so maybe I won’t go that far. I believe everyone needs therapy, and I mean everyone, whether you think you need it or not. But if you can’t find the time to see a shrink, or you are uncomfortable with the idea of spilling your innermost thoughts and feelings to a complete stranger, I would recommend getting those thoughts down on paper, so long as the sheets are not bound inside the leather of Tom Riddle’s diary.

Consistent with the stigma of seeking mental help, opening up about one’s feelings on paper is something many people shy away from. The benefits of communicating your feelings are insurmountable, and the first step, communicating with yourself, is something we often forget to do. When life gets too hard to manage, being comfortable with sharing your feelings can make a world of difference.

Recently, my best friend told me about how she began journaling when a therapist recommended she take to a notebook to vent when she felt she had no one else to turn to. Sometimes we feel awkward or burdensome coming to the people in our lives with our problems, and sometimes we don’t even want a response; we just need to get our thoughts out of our heads.

My friend wrote letters to her ex-boyfriend that she would never send, letters to herself about why she should avoid her ex-boyfriend, letters to herself if she ever gave in to her ex again. She admitted to me that reading those back helped put her feelings into perspective, helped sort the jumble of thoughts that it seemed she could not untangle without making them tangible. The best part about journaling, she said, was that she could see her progress right in front of her. As the months went by, giving her time to heal, she was able to see the fruit of the work she put into bettering her mental health.

Not everyone keeps journals for venting; music artists, like Chris Martin and Harry Styles, use journals as a creative outlet and artistic log. Martin unloads his thoughts on paper daily, no doubt inspiring future song lyrics, while Styles preserves the moments that inspire him in a worn-in leather-bound notebook recognizable to most super fans.

Other kinds of journaling help take account of our days. Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln kept journals of their lives and work, and it is said that Queen Elizabeth follows in the footsteps of her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria by keeping a diary. It is important for some to keep record of the most important experiences of their lives to look back on, like a time capsule. If we can do anything to bring ourselves closer to the Greats, journaling may be the most accessible avenue. And who knows, your own journal could become a historical artifact to be read for generations to come.

Nobody’s perfect; I can attribute my inconsistency with journaling to a lack of self-discipline. I tried the traditional ‘Dear Diary’ route in middle school, which lasted less than a week, then began a daily blog when Tumblr gained popularity in high school. I quickly forgot I even had a blog. My true experience with journaling began a few years ago, and I hadn’t even realized it. I started to collect artifacts from my life – concert tickets, brochures, and stickers – and pasted them inside a notebook, giving them small captions.

Later, I acquired an appreciation for literature, poetry, and music, and felt the need to scribble down Taylor Swift lyrics and Beau Taplin stanzas as I came across them, worrying I would forget them if I only stored them in my memory. As I began to hone my own writing skills, I filled the pages of my Notes app on my iPhone with original content. In any given time or place, when inspiration strikes the way I imagine it does for Mr. Styles, or a feeling persists too strongly to be stored as synapses in my brain, I take out my phone and make sure to get the idea down as quickly as possible. Poetry is usually what spills out of me. It’s not traditional, and there is no linear format, but who says journaling has to have rules?

So whether you are like me and you like to take down your favorite song lyrics and affix them to a significant feeling or experience, or you keep a notebook ready for when innovative inspiration sparks, the biggest benefit to writing leisurely is becoming a better communicator. The ability to write well, and in turn speak well, is second-to-none in the skills you will need to find success in your desired industry, so write away!

Books to Inspire Wanderlust

By: Martha Pointer

It’s been awhile since I’ve written for Atlantic Teen – my last post was at the end of November. Since then, I’ve been backpacking through Europe and exploring some amazing countries in the wintertime. I figured there’d be no better topic to write about today than the books that most inspire me to travel!

Into the Wild by John Krakouer 
I read this book during the last leg of my summer backpacking trip and it inspired in me such a wonder for the world and meeting people and a reverence for nature. Chris McCandless was, in many ways, a remarkable human being in his search for solitude and need to roam and while the story is tragic, it’s also electrifying.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
This is a classic American novel that makes me want to get in my car and just drive. Anywhere. I’d say this is the perfect book for those interested in taking a road trip or living life day to day, especially in the United States.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Name a more enthralling tale of adventure? No, seriously – I’ll wait. Even though LOTR is a fantasy series, the scope of the characters’ travels, the richness of the setting, and the pure excitement of constant movement within the story always makes my feet itchy. Plus, this trilogy is long enough that you can bring it on a trip and never get bored!

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
For the young adult lovers out there, this one’s for you. The protagonist takes a graduation trip to Europe, meets a boy, and spontaneously leaves her tour to spend one final day exploring Paris with him. This moment of impulse triggers a series of events that shape her first year in college and life beyond, in the best way possible. This book will remind you to get out there and live a little, and I love it for that.

Love Her Wild by Atticus
It might be unconventional to include a poetry book on this list, but Love Her Wild is chock-full of figurative language about wild scenery, wild people, wild hearts. It’s beautifully written, relatable, and inspiring. What more could you ask for from poetry?

Well, there’s a short list of books that I love to read while traveling or to get me in the mood for a trip. Hopefully some of these recommendations can fuel your wanderlust and, if you can’t travel right now, at least make you feel like you’re seeing some of the world through the inky pages of a book. Happy reading (and wandering)!

Confession: I Buy More Books Than I Am Able to Read

stephen-king-11-22-63-book-coverBy: Isabelle Resnick

If high school economics taught me anything – and let me tell you, it has never been easy for me to absorb anything from a class that involves numbers – it is that a deficit occurs when one spends more money than they earn.

In a real economy, continued and unpaid deficits contribute to an overall debt, e.g. the United States national debt at $20.6 trillion and counting.

In my life, I can say I have only had a few encounters with personal deficits. A few overdraft charges from a company that rhymes with Smells Largo when I spend too much money on food and shoes are among them. The biggest personal deficit I am responsible for, however, is neither measured in dollar signs, nor is it something I wanted to admit to myself until recently when I gave in and bought the Stephen King novel, 11/22/63 last summer.

Now ask me: “Isabelle, did you read 11/22/63? Finish the first chapter, even?”

I will ignore that question and instead ask you, dear reader, would you purchase yet another book (one that is approximately the size of all the Harry Potters combined), when you have bookshelves in three locations filled with novels, biographies, and anthologies you have yet to touch? Is my books-to-read ratio of 100:30 not the mark of a very specific kind of shopaholic?

My first excuse is that the adaptation of 11/22/63 on Hulu was a fantastic miniseries that I could not get enough of. I watched it three times over, and I was more interested in the love story of my two principal characters than whether the protagonist could stop the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on that particular date. That wasn’t a spoiler, by the way – it’s the whole premise of the book.

In other words, I needed more. It’s why I picked up Silver Linings Playbook and Gone Girl after obsessing over their respective film adaptations. I read Silver Linings Playbook. Gone Girl is sitting on a shelf somewhere in South Florida.

Reading the book version is, 9 times out of 10, more satisfying than the screen versions. I think that in buying 11/22/63, I was hoping to get more out of a show whose eight episodes I had exhausted.

And another thing, I cannot think of why the miniseries, starring James Franco and Sarah Gadon, did not receive more acclaim or attention. Was it because it was produced by and featured on Hulu, the distant and not-as-interesting cousin of Netflix and Amazon Prime?

This brings me to my next point: as much as I want to read all the books in my collection, the boxes and boxes of them, my entertainment landscape has become completely saturated by the Golden Age of Television, the Gilded Age of Podcasting, and my obsession with going to the movies by myself. That is another confession entirely.

In other words, there is too much good content out there that I have not yet absorbed with all my senses, and I am only one person!

Speaking of which, the amount of reading I have to do as a journalism student strongly limits my ability to read for pleasure. If I am reading “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote, won’t I mix up characters and plotlines with my third re-read of the “Hunger Games”? And don’t even get me started on the personal psychological hypotheses of why I choose to reread, re-watch, or re-listen to content over starting something new.

I want to promise that I will read 11/22/63 and at least another third of the books in my collection by the end of 2018, but I will be honest with you and myself and say that New Year’s resolutions have never worked for me, so why start now?

Let’s hope that dream of a library in one of my future homes comes true, because goodness knows I’ll need the storage space.

December Releases

By: Martha Pointer

With the end of the semester approaching, I’m looking forward to having some time to sit down and read. Although November was a month chock full of new releases, December has a couple I am looking forward to. So without further ado, here are the book releases I’m highly anticipating in December.

25446297Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

When Earth intercepts a message from a long-extinct alien race, it seems like the solution the planet has been waiting for. The Undying’s advanced technology has the potential to undo environmental damage and turn lives around, and Gaia, their former home planet, is a treasure trove waiting to be uncovered.

For Jules Addison and his fellow scholars, the discovery of an alien culture offers unprecedented opportunity for study… as long as scavengers like Amelia Radcliffe don’t loot everything first. Mia and Jules’ different reasons for smuggling themselves onto Gaia put them immediately at odds, but after escaping a dangerous confrontation with other scavvers, they form a fragile alliance.

In order to penetrate the Undying temple and reach the tech and information hidden within, the two must decode the ancient race’s secrets and survive their traps. But the more they learn about the Undying, the more their presence in the temple seems to be part of a grand design that could spell the end of the human race…

I’ve always enjoyed Amie Kaufman’s storytelling and her past few collaborations, namely the Illuminae series with Jay Kristoff, have been outstanding. So needless to say, I’m pumped for her newest collaboration (also, alien books are always cool).

23367265Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes

This book is the sixth in a young adult fantasy series, so I’m not going to provide a summary because of spoilers. The Falling Kingdoms series is one I’ve loved for awhile; it’s action-packed, fast-paced, and exciting, and I enjoy the multiple perspectives the story is told from. The fifth book left off on a huge cliffhanger, so I have been DYING to read this installment for the last year. I CAN’T WAIT!

Well, there you have it. The two books I’m most excited for in December. Aside from those, I’ll probably spend my break catching up on other fall releases that I missed because of college. Sigh.

Which books are you most excited to read in December?

Favorite Book to Movie 2017

By: Fiona Schneider

My favorite book-to-movie adaptation of 2017 is Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, hands down. No competition whatsoever. To iterate how passionate I am about this movie, when I first saw the trailer for it in theaters before watching Captain America: Civil War the year before, I actually cried. Now I didn’t sob or anything, but it was so emotionally impactful and I was simply so excited that I started to tear up right there in the movie theater. My love of the film has only grown since.

hiddenfigures.jpgI avidly kept track of new trailers and press releases for no other reason than to read the release date again and again. While I did know a bit about the real life events behind Hidden Figures, I didn’t know that the film was based on a book until seeing the ending credits of the trailer that display the whole “based on this book” spiel. Of course, I bought the book. Hidden Figures is the ONLY book I own where I purposely bought the movie cover because I love it so much.

I don’t even know if I have enough words to explain why this movie is so spectacular. To give a few details for those who may not know about the plot, Hidden Figures focuses on the brilliant black women who helped calculate and solve issues for NASA in order to put a man on the moon. Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are the characters the film focuses most on. The film delves highly into racial and gender issues that occur in society, and especially in the workforce. Besides how moving the film is, it is simply an important cultural film that displays some of the diversity in the United States’ history, which many people often overlook or are made to believe never happened. Hollywood is notorious for white-washing their casts and rewriting historical films to display the kind of message they prefer, and while it is important to remember that the film is fictional, Hidden Figures definitely shines some light on real American history and brings interest to its great complexity. I can’t say the movie is accurate to the book all the way down to the dialogue, but I don’t think any film adaptation ever will be. The core messages and plot line, however, do correlate with the book’s and make for a spectacular experience.

With all that said, if you haven’t watched the movie, I hope you will now (and check out the book, too). I will forever recommend it to anyone in need of a good film to watch.


Book Confessions

By: Martha Pointer

We all have them. Embarrassing bits of our reading habits that we’d prefer not to share with others. Hating a much beloved book, going on a book-buying binge every month, not having read a book that everyone’s talking about… These are the secrets we hide because, for whatever reason, we wish they weren’t true (or, in the case of people who hate Harry Potter, because they know they will be verbally abused by their friends). Today, I’m here to confess some of my own book secrets — please don’t judge me too harshly.

11870085I didn’t love The Fault in Our Stars

Don’t hate me, because I didn’t hate it either. It was just so hyped up and, even though I did tear up at the end, I felt like John Green tried a little too hard to make the characters witty and philosophical. To me, a lot of the dialogue felt forced and I didn’t buy into it. I still haven’t seen the movie.

I’ve read Twilight at least ten times41865

Okay, you can hate me. Twilight was my LIFE in middle school, and it became a crutch to get me through hard times during the first half of high school. There are definitely problems with the series and it’s not the best writing in the world, but Twilight served a huge purpose in my life and I will always have nostalgic feelings it.

I hate paranormal romance

Despite having read Twilight so many times, I actually despise the paranormal romance genre. I can count on one hand the number of books or series from this genre that I actually enjoyed. I just feel like paranormal romance books are typically full of overused and misogynistic tropes (love triangles, bad boys, Mary Sue protagonists), which neither impress nor excite me (and oftentimes make me angry).

3I own six complete sets of the Harry Potter series

Even I know this is ridiculous. At this point, I just tell people I collect them because otherwise it sounds insane. I have the American original paperbacks, original hardcovers, and new paperbacks; the new British children’s hardcovers; the audiobooks; and the illustrated editions (okay, technically this one isn’t complete yet, but that’s just because only three have been released thus far).

I’ve never read The Chronicles of Narnia170609

I want to, I really do. I saw the two movies as a kid and loved them, but I feel like Harry Potter kind of took over my generation’s childhood and I simply never got around to reading C.S. Lewis’ famous children’s series. I think I’d have loved these books when I was younger and they’re practically classics in children’s literature, so I hope that I’ll get around to reading them someday.

Well, there you have it: my bookish confessions. I hope you enjoyed reading them, and maybe this post will inspire you to share some of your own! Really, it’s not so bad.

A List of “Book Firsts”

By: Fiona Schneider

A lot of people have a single book they can name that made them a “reader.” I can’t say I am one of those people since I have been reading for as long as I can remember, and according to my parents even longer than that. However, I do have a somewhat list of “book firsts” I can share that chronicles my reading history and development.

I was never much for children’s literature, my mother claims I jumped straight from picture books to chapter books once I could read like a baby bird learning to fly. However, I did have a fond love for Dr. Seuss (much to my mother’s chagrin because she does NOT have a fond love for the Doc). The first book I picked up by Dr. Seuss was The Lorax, and I kind of stumbled into reading any book I could find by him thereafter. I loved the lyricism and flow of the words, and the Doctor is probably to be blamed for why I have fun writing poetry for myself in my spare time.

The next “book first” is actually about two books my father read to me when I was five before bed at the same time, switching back and forth depending on my choice each night. And these are the first books I read that tackled more depressing topics, like injuries, death, and recovery. These were Runt by Marion Dane Bauer and My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara. Runt is about a young wolf pup who is the pack, well, runt. It follows his life as he grows up and tries to prove himself beyond his small size to his father, King, in comparison to his other four siblings. My Friend Flicka is much different from the several show and movie adaptations, with the original main character being a young boy who sees Flicka, an uncontrollable yearling, at a round up and knows she is the horse he has been looking for. The story is a bit more dark than the later adaptations, and goes into a lot of the underbelly of the equine world. And if you haven’t noticed yet, I am a bit of an animal lover so I almost solely read books that revolved around animals and reality until my next and last “book first.”

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. This is the first fantasy novel I ever read when I was about nine, and I haven’t turned away from the genre since. I already wrote about this novel in a previous blog post to the main character, Meggie, but I left out details on the storyline itself. This book follows the adventures of Meggie Folchart, who learns she is a silvertongue, someone who can read words and make whatever is written a reality. She can read herself into books, as well as read characters out of books. She uses this ability to try and rescue her father who has been kidnapped and she thinks has been transported to the world inside the book Inkheart.

Now that I’ve told you a little about my own reading journey, I challenge you to try and think of some of your own “book firsts.” This reflection may make you laugh as you realize some things about yourself and just how much one book may have changed your life.

On This Day in History: The Russian Revolution

By: Martha Pointer

61ch+RBRC1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_One hundred years ago yesterday, the Russian Revolution ended with the success of Bolshevik Party leader, Vladimir Lenin’s, nearly bloodless coup d’état against the Russian Duma’s provisional government. The Bolsheviks and their allies occupied government buildings and other strategic locations in Petrograd, and soon formed a new government with Lenin as its head. Lenin became the dictator of the world’s first communist state (though soon after, a civil war broke out that would last nearly six years until 1923, when Lenin’s Red Army claimed victory and established the Soviet Union).

The Russian Revolution was a critical event in the twentieth century because it led to the birth of state-sponsored communism, which in turn had an impact on the subsequent world war and the Cold War that dominated the latter half of the century. In honor of this historic event, I’ve pulled some information from Jessica E. Piper’s The Story of the Russian Revolution 100 Years Later (with my own tidbits added in––I am a history major, after all) to help familiarize anyone interested.


The Government

The system of government that brought Nicholas into power was already outdated when the new tsar was crowned. The Russian empire was a hereditary monarchy, meaning that power was passed from one member of the royal family to the next. Additionally, the Russian tsar was an autocrat, meaning he had absolute power. While most European countries had a parliament or a representative body, Nicholas got to make all of the decisions himself. Although Nicholas was generally regarded as intelligent and well-educated, he wasn’t particularly interested in politics.

The Citizens

Tsar Nicholas II and his family spent most of their time in the royal palace in St. Petersburg, a port city along the Baltic Sea. But most Russian citizens were not royalty like Nicholas. In fact, most people didn’t even live in cities. In the early 1900s, 80 percent of Russians were peasants, living and working on small farms. For Russian peasants, the cycle of hunger and poverty seemed like it would never end.


Bloody Sunday

Outrage over the events of Bloody Sunday (when the military massacred protestors in St. Petersburg) soon turned into a sense of rebellion that spread far beyond St. Petersburg. Students at Moscow University burned a picture of the tsar. In the countryside, peasants began organizing strikes to force their landowners to increase wages. When that summer brought a bad harvest, some peasants attacked landowners’ estates, seizing property and setting fire to the manors. Most of the peasant violence occurred in Russia’s central agricultural zone, where poverty was the worst. The government wasn’t going to stand for peasant rebellion. Between January and October of 1905, the tsar’s administration authorized over 2,700 uses of military troops against peasant uprisings.

The October Manifesto

On October 17, Nicholas released the Manifesto on the Improvement of the State Order, more commonly known as the October Manifesto, which was a victory for protestors. It granted fundamental civil freedoms, including freedom of speech and assembly. And it established the Duma, a democratically elected body whose approval would be required for new laws.


Russia supported Serbia in World War I and thus was in opposition to Germany and Austria-Hungary. However, they were militarily unprepared and public opinion of the war declined quickly. The war seriously disrupted nearly all aspects of Russia’s economy. High casualty numbers led Russia to draft more soldiers into the army. Many of these soldiers had previously been peasant farmers; after they left, their farms went untended, hurting production. As the war continued, Russia not only lost workers, but also lost valuable farmland due to German advances. Nicholas assumed the position of military commander thinking that he could turn around Russia’s string of defeats. However, he was not particularly equipped for the position: he lacked military experience himself, played favorites, and valued perceived loyalty of his generals over skill. Since Nicholas was in charge, Russian citizens could now blame him for the empire’s military losses.


Vladimir Lenin was born in 1870 under the name Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov. A devout Marxist, he was arrested in 1895 due to his political activities and was sentenced to exile in Siberia. Following his release in 1900, he traveled around Europe, meeting with various Marxist leaders, and he did a bit of writing. Lenin and his Bolshevik supporters lead the strikes, protests, and ultimately, the revolution of 1917. In March of that year, the Roman’s abdicated the throne. Over 300 years of Romanov rule in Russia had come to an end.

It’s important to remember that the original Russian Revolution happened only in the capital city, not the whole country. The Bolsheviks, however, felt empowered by the growth of peasant rebellions in rural Russia, and they proceeded to take over the Duma and Winter Palace. This occurred in early November of 1917 and concluded the second part of the Russian Revolution. Although much still needed to be resolved after November 7 one hundred years ago, a critical shift in power had taken place and the growth of communism had begun.