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Dickinson, Hawthorne, and Melville

Throughout our history, we have repeatedly tried to exploit the environment (i.e. nature) in order to perfect our lives. We not only manipulated the materialistic and economic aspect of our world, but we have also struggled to use the moral and the spiritual in making progress within ourselves. Instead of relying on ourselves to accomplish this purpose, we have unfortunately sought help from society’s traditional institutions. These institutions, in turn, have tired to manipulate us for their own good, resulting in more harm than help. During the nineteenth century, authors such as Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne recognized this and have tried to stop it through their writings. To this end, they have adopted Ralph Waldo Emerson’s view that people choose to deny the power of reason, or their own mind. He believed that until people choose to see the “light” of reason, they will remain morally dead. With the achievement of reason, external institutions will remain useless and they will understand that the spirit they so vehemently desired is indeed within them and will without a doubt eliminate their moral darkness. Therefore, Emerson affirmed that the only eternal law is that of experience and that “the one thing in the world of value is the active soul-the soul, free, sovereign, active.” This essay will discuss how these authors (Melville, Hawthorne, and Dickinson) composed writings that mimicked Emerson’s view of life to accentuate individualism against subjugation.

To begin, Melville believed that “we are all sons, grandsons, or nephews or great-nephews of those who go before us. No one is his own sire.” Thus, his writings both mimic Emerson’s views and repel it. For ex…

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In conclusion, all three authors, Dickinson, Melville, and Hawthorne use Emerson’s ideas of individuality in their respective writings. They stressed the importance of the individual over he hypocrisy of society. Although Emerson’s views were optimistic, Dickinson, Melville, and Hawthorne have pessimistic sociological views. Melville believed that as an individual, one had no power in one’s society. Dickinson disqualified society and reiterated the importance of individualism. She thought that if individualism was not in existence, people would die of insanity. Finally, Hawthorne believed that to attain individualism, one needed to cast off any association to technology and science. Thus, due to Emerson’s writings and views, Dickinson, Melville, and Hawthorne attempted to change the 19th century’s view of one’s life and one’s soul.

The Hollow Men

The Hollow Men

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri of New England descent, on Sept. 26, 1888. He entered Harvard University in 1906, completed his courses in three years and earned a master’s degree the next year. After a year at the Sorbonne in Paris, he returned to Harvard. Further study led him to Merton College, Oxford, and he decided to stay in England. He worked first as a teacher and then in Lloyd’s Bank until 1925. Then he joined the London publishing firm of Faber and Gwyer, becoming director when the firm became Faber and Faber in 1929. Eliot won the Nobel prize for literature in 1948 and other major literary awards.

Eliot saw an exhausted poetic mode being employed, that contained no verbal excitement or original craftsmanship, by the Georgian poets who were active when he settled in London. He sought to make poetry more subtle, more suggestive, and at the same time more precise. He learned the necessity of clear and precise images, and he learned too, to fear romantic softness and to regard the poetic medium rather than the poet’s personality as the important factor. Eliot saw in the French symbolists how image could be both absolutely precise in what it referred to physically and at the same time endlessly suggestive in the meanings it set up because of its relationship to other images. Eliot’s real novelty was his deliberate elimination of all merely connective and transitional passages, his building up of the total pattern of meaning through the immediate comparison of images without overt explanation of what they are doing, together with his use of indirect references to other works of literature (some at times quite obscure).

Eliot starts his poem “The Hollow Men” with a quote from Joseph Conrad’s novel the Heart of Darkness. The line “Mistah Kurtz-he dead” refers to a Mr. Kurtz who was a European trader who had gone in the “the heart of darkness” by traveling into the central African jungle, with European standards of life and conduct. Because he has no moral or spiritual strength to sustain him, he was soon turned into a barbarian. He differs, however, from Eliot’s “hollow men” as he is not paralyzed as they are , but on his death catches a glimpse of the nature of his actions when he claims “The horror! the Horror!” Kurtz is thus one of the “lost /Violent souls” mentioned in lines 15-16.

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