First Harvest Essay

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Chris Ackerman
First Harvest Essay

American romanticism came to prominence in the first half of the nineteenth century. It was influenced by a number of brilliant writers, including James Fenimore Cooper and Edgar Allen Poe. As humanitarian reform swept the nation, many new types of literature developed along with it. Romantic writing placed the central importance upon the emotions and upon the individual. But, romantic writers were primarily concerned with three items: the inner world of human nature, nature, and the past.

Washington Irving’s “The Devil and Tom Walker” clearly depicts the romantic focus on the inner world of human nature. Irving, although it is not originally his, tells the story of a man (Tom Walker) who sells his soul to the devil. Walker cares about nothing but himself, depicting Irving’s opinion that humans were generally selfish. Irving tells how the man tried to overturn his selfish doings in the latter yeas of his life by becoming and avid churchgoer among other things. This however, was only done in order to save himself, further showing the nature of humans is greedy and self-centered.

In addition to this, “The Deerslayer” by James Fenimore Cooper portrays the romantic focus on nature. Throughout the excerpt, there are references to the beauty of the nature around Deerslayer. At the start, it is said that the way the sunlight passes through the canopy of leaves above reminds Deerslayer of Gothic tracery and churchly hues. He also refers to this specific area as a “temple of nature.” Cooper not only focuses on describing the beauty of nature, but also its usefulness. When Deerslayer is fleeing from his enemies, he attempts to hide I natural places, such as underneath the dead tree.

“The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe, rounding off the three main focuses of romantic writers, epitomizes the concentration on the past. Throughout the poem, the narrator keeps asking about his lost Lenore, and cannot get over the fact that she is...
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