American Literature Prior to Civil War
Though being evident that Columbus was not the founder and one who discovered the World, 1492, the moment when he landed in this New World proved significant: it brought in an eminent era of vast, unprecedented European exploration including the settlement of the Americas. During this age, most European explorers started searching for trade routes, wealth in overseas, and also adventure. Technological innovations always spurred this exploration boom.
During the famous conquistadors’ expeditions headed to the Southwest, many horses vanished on the eminent Great Plains.
Columbus was on the forefront trying to ensure that there was equality and democracy in all aspects of society. In his many voyages, he did not look at the boundaries existing in the world as an impediment towards economic boom and freedom of the mind. He set out to protect rights of each and every individual.
Captain John Smith came up in time as a famous and prominent leader. In early1608, he organized work gangs who were out to ensure that the colony always had food and a shelter. He also made rules that controlled all the sanitation and hygiene in the country. During the eminent winter of the years1608–1609, it was evident that only twelve of the 200 men lost their lives. Smith is also known to excel in diplomacy, and also in maintaining strong friendship with all neighboring Powhatan Confederacy. He was out to ensure that people had freedom, both economically and in mind. This was the main basis of a successful economy as he empowered the people he led. Although there were many hiccups in his leadership, he can be looked at as a model.
Americans believe in success. They also understand their rights. They are always out to ensure that every person is treated equally. The leaders give direction on grounds of what the citizens feel. They do not stand alone but always listen to the people. People are always accountable and deemed responsible for their actions and should always be ready to either support or dejection.
Religion has always played a major role in the daily lives of early settlers in the American continent. William Bradford, one of early writers, uses this from as a method of literary persuasion. A major principle that the Puritans hold is that most of the daily occurrences are connected to God. These beliefs are prevalent in all William Bradford’s writings. The question most people ask themselves is whether those events only freak events that tend to occur or if they interfere from a higher being.
Bradford was always overruled by the crew; he, however, continued to curse and often distastefully. He extolled the famous values of the community and clearly pointed out the undoing of personal greed also based on factionalism.
Bradford also had dire belief that all the events that happened were under God’s Control. This trickled down on the analysis of the voyage incident as an account of God’s protection over His people.
Anne Bradstreet is a famous poet. Her works touch many souls. She was raised by her father as a strict Puritan. She has always idolized him. She always describes nature in her works and asks People to adore it. She had strong belief that Christ will come back again, and that God is the creator. In first stanza, she describes the eminent beauty of autumn:
Their leaves and fruits seem’d painted but was true / Of green, of red, of yellow, mixed hew, / Rapt were my senses at this delectable view.
She goes on to explain how the beauty really touched her, and was perplexed, failing to know what to do.
If so much excellence abide below, / How excellent is he that dwells on high? His power and beauty by His works.
These works are celebrated up to today.
Age of Enlightenment brought about many notable changes in nations of Western Europe. It came out as an age of reason and also of philosophies. This age realized changes in areas and ideals that had not been witnessed since ancient times. Such changes affected all the people of the Western European society. Many people still argue that the age of Enlightenment did not elicit any significant change; however, existing overwhelming facts prove them wrong. This includes the changes that concerned the Church, especially the Catholic Church. Such change is always apparent in the queries, ideas, and philosophies of all time, in the famous study of science, and also throughout the monarchial system. Philosophers such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, and Thomas Jefferson were out to prove this in their literary works.
This was the Age of Reason, the time when the full scope of the human existence was under careful examination, with an eye geared towards perfecting of the human society. It was felt by many people that the application of one’s intellect was the main rescue for societies from the eminent forces of despotism. Encountered between1715 to 1789, the Enlightenment age, was probably as essential to America as it was to European nations. In that given age of classical thinking, philosophers reviewed with ardent zeal most institutions of the modern governments employing the same intensity applied by scientists such as Newton who tried to probe the universal mysteries and spheres of mathematics and also physics.
Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, a book that captures a reasoned argument for the American nation independence, wrote:
You will do me the justice to remember, that I have always strenuously supported the Right of every Man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it. … The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall.
He was out to prove that all beliefs should always be accepted being based on reason, and never on any traditional or also priestly authority. He also advocates for critical thinking among people, stating that no one should be tied to slavery of his or her own ideas.
The greatest irony existing in the notion of the Enlightenment can be looked at as when political writers viewed England as the nation that was most enlightened in Europe. They also looked at it as the place where evidence proved that people first revolted, in all the American colonies. American political leaders of that time, like Jefferson, John Adams and Franklin were heavily under the influence f Enlightenment thinking. Indeed, it is evident that the most essential result of the enlightenment was the Jefferson’s famous Declaration. Many nations, both in Europe and America, had rulers being denoted as “enlightened despots.” As Jefferson proved, they always considered themselves as being modern and progressive in that they gave an ear to the philosophers of the time. The “philosophers” offered ideas for modified ways of organizing society, and most rulers governed in a way that always reflected the uplifting of the people’s ideas. Jefferson said:
The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them (Jefferson).
John Mill always believed that the modern society’s progress is positive and is based on reasoning only. He echoed this by stating that what has been made is positive. Based on his renowned fundamental belief, it is evident that understanding and thinking should only be accepted if they have a foundation on reason, not being based on any traditional or existing authority (Mill).
The Enlightenment always championed change and the reform that were desired at the expense of the famous church and also the monarchies. It challenged traditional institutions, customs, and also morals. The Philosophers vehemently advocated for new reforms to create a healthy society and also improve the human beings by using logic and reason. The Enlightenment, in the end, resulted in the dramatic changes witnessed in political, cultural, social, and economic ideals that still revolutionize European and American nations.
Americans were not prepared for this. It was shocking to realize that Smith was jetting out of office and public life completely. It was more disturbing as this was the time the nation needed him most. His work brought a legacy filled with wisdom emanating from his life as a public figure. He had lived and worked at a time where he was forced to go through war and revolution in the States. He hoped his desires, as explained in his farewell address, will be echoed and achieved by other leaders. He also hoped that his legacy would be passed on to generations to come. There are currently happening such events that, if he could be alive now, would make him shed a tear. All the same, some of his desires have been achieved. His farewell address played a great role in his exertion of a lasting influence on excellence beyond his death, eventually guiding America along its path as a respected and renowned world power.
Smith called for national unity with other nations in order to achieve success. This may not only be applied to the countries’ front but is also witnessed at an individual level. Unity in a nation starts at the grass root level of individuals. Washington unequivocally endorsed the Union, the strongest central government that he eventually helped put in place. He explained in his address that the Union was the main source of liberation for America’s citizens. It was the main pillar to independence, peace abroad, and safety of the whole nation. With the advancement in knowledge and the sophisticated leadership that exists today, the government’s survival is no longer a great consideration.
Smith, for posterity, firmly came down on the national government’s side by constantly reminding his fellow countrymen of their independence being the work of generally joint counsels, and always of joint efforts. America won its independence through combined efforts in the Union and still needs it to survive in this world of powers considered predatory and imperial. He went ahead to advocate for the need to respect the American Constitution since it served as the main blueprint of the nation’s federal union. This is still evident today as the constitution is held supreme and respected at all levels.
Smith, having helped inaugurate the Hamiltonian system that dealt with finance, advised American people to always cherish public credit. He was speaking from experience and advised the nation to be ready for danger through appropriate allocation of funds for the defense of the nation. During his time, the national government had miserably let its citizens down by failing to support the army. Washington, on personal grounds, had also lived with perpetual debt. He advocated through the Hamiltonian plan for the efficient tax system where taxes collected would pay down the public debt.
Religion and Morality was also core to his address to the nation. While discussing social issues, they are referred to as indispensable supports of any society and the greatest pillars to realization of human happiness. He went further to state that religion could not be divorced, at any instance, from public and also private morality. To Washington, the denting fact that the nation’s Constitution forbade any establishment of one religion could not preclude, on any grounds. This is still evident in today’s life as many religions do exist but there is generally shown respect for worshipping of God.
Difficulty in Reconciliation of Philosophy and Life
They always emphasize that God is the ultimate source of man’s strength and also power. He goes further to elucidate that divine insight should be the main goal for living. They do away with materialism in cases such as phrenology. They also, in a metaphorical way, allude to the capabilities that are undiscovered within men as an analogous to the famous unexplored West of America:
I am ready to die out of nature, and be born again into this new yet unapproachable America I have found in the West.
Emerson also says:
The transformation of genius into practical power
Perspective and Insight
They explore this subject in detail throughout Experience. They advise people to find divine intervention in all their daily lives. It is evident as Emerson says:
. . . . But every insight from this realm of thought is felt as initial, and promises a sequel. I do not make it; I arrive there, and behold what was there already. . . . I clap my hands in infantine joy and amazement, before the first opening to me of this august magnificence, old with the love and homage of innumerable ages, young with the life of life, the sunbright Mecca of the desert. And what a future it opens!
I do not believe in rituals. However, I have witnessed many people in the society performing them, either at personal level or communally. It all depends with one’s culture, religion and beliefs.
Thoreau, in Civil Disobedience, believes that although there are slaves in society, they should be treated well. There is no need of harassing them as they are human beings. In my life, I believe it is not wise to mistreat or segregate people on racial or gender grounds. All human beings are equal and should be given utmost respect.
Poe, in his works, always gives memory ultimate power to often keep dead people alive. He appears as if afraid of death but ironically talks more about it. Poe distorts this literary theme by bringing the dead back to life. He employs memory as the main trigger that always reawakens the dead. It is, however, cynical that these people are usually women.
Hawthorne, in his works, does bring out irony. The young man, in The Ambitious Guest, never wishes to die, but still compares himself to Esther. He says:
No, no!” cried he, repelling the idea with reproachful kindness. “When I think of your death, Esther, I think of mine, too. But I was wishing we had a good farm in Bartlett, or Bethlehem, or Littleton, or some other township round the White Mountains; but not where they could tumble on our heads. I should want to stand well with my neighbors and be called Squire, and sent to General Court for a term or two; for a plain, honest man may do as much good there as a lawyer. And when I should be grown quite an old man, and you an old woman, so as not to be long apart, I might die happy enough in my bed, and leave you all crying around me. A slate gravestone would suit me as well as a marble one–with just my name and age, and a verse of a hymn, and something to let people know that I lived an honest man and died a Christian.
Although he claims to echo his father’s sentiments of hope existing, he fails to live to it. Identifying irony in this literary work is difficult and requires a third eye to identify where it exists. His works are worth the praise.
Smith’s work is still being taught to young American children and serves as a model of a perfect world. The article is read annually in the senate of the United States. It is an adored document, admired by many, but fully understood by few. The document best supports the philosophy referred to as non-interventionism. Historians have always ranked this appeal with the famous Independence Declaration, but only few Americans are able to quote it verbatim. It is deemed to have the greatest direct effect on the US national policy.
Smiths’s advice is considered sacrosanct. He was always associated with the call for a perpetual union, which turned out to be the most sought reference by many US presidents, most notably Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. Jackson’s case was during the Nullification Crisis, and Lincoln’s one was during the Civil War. Washington advocated for an independent and interest-based foreign policy. This laid the sole foundation for Monroe’s Doctrine and, eventually, defined the United States’ position in the world. Washington’s desire to keep America focused, mainly on important values, made it rise to the super power it is today.
A young slave, Linda has to grow up fast the moment she finds herself trapped in the hands of a corrupt master. Linda has secure attachment to both of her parents, who always take great care of her. They hide from her the fact that she is a slave. This enables her develop a profound sense of self-respect that goes on to allow her overcome obstacles in life. Linda is always confident and she never accepts to be used as property of another known person. Despite being mistreated, she soldiers towards her goals. She is always devoted to caring for her children and is often willing to endure suffering for the love she bears for them.
Dr. Flint’s harasses Linda sexually and it only goes on to intensify her desire to keep on controlling her life. Linda is rebellious, strong-willed, and clever, letting Dr. Flint assume that she will bow down to his advances. After Linda became a mother, she kept on fighting for freedom being at the same time deeply attached to the children. In the end, motherhood wins out, although Linda’s bold spirit is never extinguished.
People could not believe that Walt Whitman would ever emerge as a revolutionary poet. Judging from his upbringing, where he only attended formal education for six years, the fact that he became engaged in work at eleven years, surpassed the predictions of many. His works, Leaves of Grass, elicited a radical shift in the famous American poetry. Whitman always unified his poetry work by using repetition of key words and also ideas, and application of parallelism in lines. He always flouted convention in all his choices of the subject matter: in all his efforts in elucidating the epic story of the famous American democracy, he went on to exclude nothing from his main focus and also emphasized people’s body as much as their souls, the most rude as much as those refined.
Figuring himself and also poetry as the main visionary illustration of the essential American politic body, he did construct an inclusive, all-embracing identity that could, “contain multitudes.” Leaves of Grass did not have his name on the main title page. Instead, Whitman chose to present his readers with his picture, casually dressed as the eminent representative of the renowned American self. In his Challenge of tradition and quest in shocking readers, his works became revolutionary manifesto always advocating an evident new style for the American literature, and also a new identity for the famous American poet.
As Rebecca Harding is known to always use prose to protest, it works on the negative towards her quest to use fiction to express her views. She tends to focus more on that given style rather than stressing on the main message that she should drive home. The consideration of her work as being fictional ends up losing meaning as she focuses on advocacy for resistance. She should have focused on application of fiction at the expense of bringing the real world close to her readers.
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