American Literature Despite Their Different Backgrounds Essay

Pages: 4 (1537 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Freshman  ·  Topic: Literature

American Literature

Despite their different backgrounds and experiences, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau shared a number of ideas. Compare their views on nature, the individual, and conformity.

Ralph Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were both great writers that had very vivid ideas on nature, the individual, and conformity. They were both outstanding leaders in the transcendentalist movement and had an unforgettable impact on its development and sustainment. Emerson was an idol for Thoreau, as it was Emerson that inspired him to write in his own style. Emerson's view of the individual was to be able to have the freedom to express themselves, was to have everything that anyone ever needed. They should not be afraid of any restrictions placed by anyone, as freedom of speech is a given right and it should be exercised.

Thoreau was more radical than Emerson. Emerson did believe that individuals should be themselves and should not conform to a societal expectation, but it was Thoreau that encouraged people to actually disobey those preset notions. He was more revolutionary in his perspectives and encouraged all to revolt against their government in order to prove a point to those who they wanted to get a message across to; he believed in the power of the individual.

Emerson believed that nature and humans were one. He did not see any difference between what was considered the nature outside, and what one would consider to be the person. They exist as one, and it is this "one" existence that allowed everything to work the way it did. Thoreau however, believed that nature and humans worked together in a dual existence. In order for nature to work, humans had to work alongside with it, and vice versa. Both believed that it was nature that allowed humans to be educated in various ways. Nature encouraged curiosity and drove innate human behavior.

2) Emily Dickinson used slant rhyme and exact rhymes in her poetry. Write three examples of slant rhyme and three examples of exact rhyme from her poems, Heart! We will forget him!, If you were coming in the Fall, and The Soul selects her own Society.

Slant rhymes are used when words that do not exactly rhyme perfectly, but are close enough in sound, to make a rhyming poem. An exact rhyme is one that is perfect in its rhyme-sounding, and is also spelled relatively the same. The first example of an exact rhyme comes from Emily Dickinson's Heart! We will forget him! And it goes, "You and I -- tonight!... I will forget the night" (lines 2 & 4). The terms that are italicized, tonight and night, rhyme perfectly with each other and are also spelled relatively alike. A second example of an exact rhyme comes from Emily Dickinson's poem, If you were coming in the Fall, and it goes, "I'd count them on my hand...Into Van Deiman's Land" (lines 10 & 12). Again, the italicized words, hand and land, have a perfect rhyme, as well as similar spelling. The third and last example of an exact rhyme comes from the poem by Emily Dickinson titled, "The Soul selects her own Society" in the lines, "Then - shuts the door -... Present no more-" (lines 2 & 4). The words door and more are exact rhymes in this particular poem.

Examples of slant rhymes can also be found in Emily Dickinson's poems. The first example is from The Soul selects her own Society in the lines, "At her low Gate -...Upon her Mat" (lines 6 & 8). Although the italicized words Gate and Mat are not spelled similarly, nor are they sounding the exact same way, the way that one pronounces is as one is reading the poem makes them rhyme. The following two examples can be found in If you were coming in the Fall. The first of the two is in the lines, "I'd wind the month in balls-...For fear the numbers fuse" (lines 6 & 8) and the second in the lines, "Of this that is between-...That will not state -- its sting" (lines 18 & 20). The italicized words balls and fuse and between and sting, do not rhyme perfectly, nor are they spelled similarly, but when they are read in context of the poem, they flow perfectly as they pertain to those exact lines of poetry. It gives them a different emphasis and a sign of importance to the writing.

3) Write a paragraph explaining why you think stories and poems about the realms of darkness are popular with many readers. Support your explanation with at least three examples from The Fall of the House of Usher.

Dark stories always seem to intrigue a greater crowd of readers. The mysteries behind them, the unforeseen endings, and the unreachable realms, make it all too difficult to give up. The Fall of the House of Usher (1839) by Edgar Allan Poe, depicts this notion all too well. From the beginning, this story describes a dark mansion, one that from the outside is described as looking broken down, old and mysterious, but gloomy and frightening (Poe 264). Knowing that the story started in this specific manner, as a reader, one feels compelled to keep reading as one finds it intriguing that the narrator himself, does not know why it is that his friend Roderick has summoned him there with his letter, and as a reader, one wants to also find out why. The vagueness that Poe describes in this short story makes it a mystery that attracts the readers even more, and it is this that gives stories enraveled in darkness their unique appeal.

The way in which the story is narrated, makes all the difference in encapsulating and capturing a reader's attention, especially in stories that are focused on the realms of darkness. This makes them even more popular among readers because it is this feature that makes the reader feel as if they are part of the story, as is the case in Poe's short story. Knowing as much as the narrator knows, makes the reader that much more invested in what the potential outcomes could be. Feeling the adventurous and daring spirit of the narrator, as is the case with many dark stories, make the reader even more intrigued in its content. In this case of The Fall of the House of Usher, even the narrator cannot stay away despite his realization of what was occurring (Poe 268). Again, as one is also made to feel as if one is part of the story, one can feel the intrigue that the narrator feels, and understands why it is that he does not want to completely run out the door, even as he is feeling the sensation of the house closing in on him (Poe 277). It is this feeling of wanting to know more, of wanting to know everything that keeps a reader entrapped in the lines of this short story, and the same can be applied to all stories that have a dark nature to it.

4) Some literary critics consider Rip Van Winkle a model example of the Romantic hero and the prototype of the mythic American. Write a paragraph explaining how Rip Van Winkle might be seen as a model American romantic hero. Use at least three qualities of the character to support your explanation.

Rip Van Winkle is described as being a character that everyone would want to be like. This notion of being the represented romantic hero, and the ideal mythic American can be seen throughout the entire story. Although it might be seen as being insensitive for falling asleep for twenty years and allowing everyone's life to go on without him, when he awoke, he awoke with a sense of peacefulness. One of the best attributes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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