Term Paper: Puritan and Romantic Literary Consciousness and Comparison to Recent Movies

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Puritan and Romantic literary consciousness: A comparison to a recent "Dead Poets Society" in modern film

Cast away old traditions. Ignore the interpretations of long-ago critics, and seek understanding in your own hearts of literature and poetry. "Our age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face-to-face; we, through their eyes. Why should not we also enjoy an original relation to the universe?" This Romantic and American Transcendentalist ideal is clearly embodied, not only in this excerpt from Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Nature," but also by the life and teaching of the instructor portrayed by Robin Williams in the film "Dead Poet's Society."

At the beginning of the film, the teacher portrayed by Williams asks the students to rip out the chapter from the front of their textbooks that tells them how to methodically and systematically graph the excellence of a poem, based upon its position in history. Instead, he tells the students to make their lives extraordinary and to unite their appreciation of poetry to their everyday life in nature. He reminds them that the students who passed through the hallowed halls of their prestigious and expensive preparatory institution are now dead. The living, current students must seize the day and live life to the fullest, much like Emerson urged his readership, to be true to their own unique perspectives upon the world.

Emerson's invocation of the American's ability to see his or her vocation in nature, in the common people, and in loving the living moment, rather than just mimicking European tradition, is invoked not just in quotations from Romantic poets during the film such as Walt Whitman, but in inspiring scenes where the boys are seen running around in nature, reciting poetry, and creating their own dead society of poets, where they read the great masters and create their own works.

The ideals of Romanticism suggested that the human animal must mature emotionally as well as intellectually, to reach his or her own artistic potential, and the best way to do this was to do so in nature. In nature, Emerson wrote, one is filled with the innocent love of spontaneous experience, much like a child. But this childlike innocence can also catch the eye of the 'powers that be' or the orthodox leadership of opinion in a very negative, as opposed to a positive way. Because the Romantic teacher does not teach the curriculum as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Puritan and Romantic Literary Consciousness and Comparison to Recent Movies.  (2005, January 11).  Retrieved December 7, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/puritan-romantic-literary-consciousness/214274

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"Puritan and Romantic Literary Consciousness and Comparison to Recent Movies."  11 January 2005.  Web.  7 December 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/puritan-romantic-literary-consciousness/214274>.

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"Puritan and Romantic Literary Consciousness and Comparison to Recent Movies."  Essaytown.com.  January 11, 2005.  Accessed December 7, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/puritan-romantic-literary-consciousness/214274.