How to Change the World
Whitman’s “To a Pupil” advises students to become individuals, to reform, so that others may in turn follow them. Throughout this poem, Whitman demonstrates that “reform” is needed in his harsh world and any “dear” student can fix the lack of it. To accomplish this, a student must have “self esteem” and “definiteness”. Through Whitman’s distinct style of using apostrophe and imperative verbs, the reader feels as if Whitman was addressing his poem to the reader and suggesting that “Personality” and individualism are of utmost importance to “reform” the world. A student needs “to have eyes, blood, complexion” (Whitman), three defining characteristics of an individual, to accomplish anything. He strengthens his argument through the use of the word “you” by always relating his argument to the reader. Next, powering, active phrases such as “go, dear friend… commence to-day” (Whitman) inspire his readers to get out of their seats and stimulate reform that very day. Whitman’s encouraging and powerful style, using apostrophe and second person verbs, strengthens his argument that it is necessary to be an individual to bring about reform. Using the strong word “magnet” and capitalizing the “P” in “Personality”, Whitman argues further that great character is needed for a student to be the center of a crowd as opposed to a shadow following others. Whitman states that if a student has such qualities, “has such a body and soul… when you enter the crowd an atmosphere of desire and command enters with you, and every one is impress’d with your Personality” (Whitman). He tells students to become like a “magnet”, to attract others to with “Personality” to their thoughts, so that “reform” can be accomplished. Furthermore, Whitman uses strong nouns to describe the qualities of this “magnet”, such as “self-esteem” and “elevatedness”. Whitman goes so far as to even advise his readers to elevate themselves from others to establish the need of character and...
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