top-rated free essay

How does American Literature represent American Attidtudes Values And Beliefs?

By Tails928 Sep 04, 2014 1027 Words
How does American Literature reflect/reveal American Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs? Four writers in specific reveal to us these things in their writing. Those writers are Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. These people reveal American Values, Attitudes and Beliefs by showing us the we can be independent, we have to separate from technology every once once in a while, and we need to have moral relativism.

To begin with, David Henry Thoreau shows us that in order to see how beautiful the world around us truly is we must separate ourselves from technology. He did this at one point in his life. He spent three years in the Walden forest, only going back to society for minor supplies, such as sugar. He lived mostly off the land by eating fruit and deriving intellectual stimulation from plants and animals in order to prove that a man can successfully live in the midst of nature. While he was in nature, nature itself became a reflection of his emotions. In his book, Walden, he describes Walden Pond as a mirror. Throughout the novel, the weather continually reflects his emotional state. His period of melancholy and doubt occurs during the winter when the pond is frozen and nature is silenced, while his joy and exultation is reflected in the thawing of the lake and growth of new life in the spring. The idea of nature reflecting human emotions supports Thoreau’s belief in man as a part of, rather than separate from or above, nature. He also wrote an essay titled Moral Disobedience, in which he recounts in Walden the story of his imprisonment in jail for not paying taxes to a government that supports slavery. He also aids a fugitive slave in escaping to Canada. That is how David Henry Thoreau reveals to us American Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs.

Secondly, Walt Whitman shows us that we can/need to be independent. In the first stanza of his poem, “Song of Myself”, Whitman says, “I CELEBRATE myself, And what I assume you shall assume, For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. I loafe and invite my soul, I lean and loafe at

my ease.... observing a spear of summer grass.” This shows that he is independent in the way he is and wishes us to be as well. In the seventh stanza Whitman states, “How is one supposed it lucky to be born? I hasten to inform him or her it is as lucky to die, and I know it. I pass death with the dying, and the birth with the new-washed babe.... and am not contained between my hat and boots, And peruse manifold objects, no two alike, and every one good, The earth good, and the stars good, and their adjuncts all good. I am not the earth nor an adjunct of an earth, I am the mate and companion of people, all just as immortal and fathomless as myself: They do not know how immortal, but I know.” This shows that Whitman, being the deep thinker he is, looking at the limits of life to see how much of an individual he can be, and compared himself to the other people around, who are all just as fathomless as he is. In the fifty-first stanza of “Song of Myself” he states, “The Past and the Present wilt.... I have filled them and emptied them, And proceed to fill my next fold of the future. Listener up there! Here you.... what have you to confide to me? Look in my face while I snuff the sidle of evening, Talk honestly, for no one else hears you, and I stay only a minute longer. Do I contradict myself? Very well than.... I contradict myself: I am large.... I contain multitudes. I concentrate toward them that are nigh, I wait on the door-slab. Who has done his day's work? Who will soonest be through with his supper? Who wishes to walk with me? Will you speak before I am gone? Will you prove already too late?” This shows that Whitman does not know his purpose so he asks a higher power to tell him what his purpose on this planet is. Showing that even the most individualistic person needs to slightly dependent on someone. This is how Walt Whitman reveals to us that we need to be independent. Thirdly, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories show that people need Moral Relativism. The first example is when Dr.Heidegger invites three of her close friends to drink from the water brought to him from the fountain of youth, and they all go crazy with the power of youth. Thes+

e people have given up all moral standards and do whatever they can to get more of the water so they can revert to their youth for longer periods of time. The next example is when the girl is put near a poison plant by her father so that no guy could ever get close to her. So when a guy comes into her life and she notices that her can’t get close to her she kills herself. When that happens the guy kills her father, because he was so mad that he had thought to keep her around the poison plant for all of her life. After killing the man, he realizes that he has spent so much time around the girl that he is now poison. This shows that he lost his moral relativity was lost when his love killed himself. The last example is when Aylmer notices Georgiana birthmark and asks her to get it removed. This shows that even though he loves Georgiana, he wants to make her more perfect, which throws his moral relativity out the window. That is how Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us that people need Moral Relativism. To conclude, Thoreau, Whitman, and Hawthorne’s writing show American Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs, by showing to us that all we need is to be independent, have moral relativism, and separate ourselves from technology every once in a while to see how beautiful the world around us actually is.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • American Literature

    ...the Declaration of Independence(1) was presented to the Continental Congress by a committee led by Thomas Jefferson, who had worked on the document over the preceding fifteen days. In a little over two weeks Jefferson had created the most important political text in the modern history of the Western world. Not only did it bring into existence th...

    Read More
  • Early American Literature

    ...Stephanie Silva ENGL 2123A Dr. Watson 16 February 2015 America, the Literary What does it mean to be American? Is America found in the language that is spoken? Is it in the geography? Or does America manifest itself in the literature that has lasted throughout the development of the nation? From the age of colonization to the age of the Roma...

    Read More
  • American Beliefs and Values

    ...independent and free. The American’s beliefs and values developed during this time and became important to why they were fighting for their freedom. Religion, freedom and liberty, and equality was only three of the many values the Americans had. Religion was important to the Americans during the Revolutionary period. George Washington states...

    Read More
  • The History of American Literature

    ...The history of American Literature starts well before this land was even called America. It has been a great evolution to come from tribal symbols and drawings to today's Stephen King and Danielle Steele. Literature has gone through many phases and was impacted by great events and ideas in American history. The earliest form of literature in w...

    Read More
  • Values in Early American Literature

    ...Values in Early American Literature "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," says the Declaration of Independence. This phrase encompasses three major values shown th...

    Read More
  • Note for American Literature

    ..."The Philosophy of Composition" is an 1846 essay written by American writer Edgar Allan Poe that elucidates a theory about how good writers write when they write well. He concludes that length, "unity of effect" and a logical method are important considerations for good writing. He also makes the assertion that "the death... of a beautiful woman...

    Read More
  • American Romanticism

    ... The Literary movement and story I decided to choose was American Romanticism, and “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. American Romanticism is a literary period in American Literature that lasted from 1800s to 1850s. The movement itself started off as an offshoot of the European Romanticism artistic movement, “It arose as a react...

    Read More
  • American Transcendentalism

    ...American Transcendentalism American transcendentalism was an important movement in philosophy and literature that flourished during the early to middle years of the nineteenth century (1836-1860). It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian church, in eastern Massachusetts, extending the views of William ...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.