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Emotion vs. Intellect in Ode to a Nightingale and Since Feeling is First

Emotion vs. Intellect in Ode to a Nightingale and Since Feeling is First

We must look for guidance from the emotions…not the mind. This romantic philosophy is portrayed in the works of both John Keats’s “Ode to a Nightingale” and E. E. Cummings’s “Since Feeling is First.” Each poet addresses the complex relationship of following one’s emotion and passion as opposed to one’s thought. Whereas Cummings supports living life fully in order to escape the confines of thought, Keats suggests death as the only possible means of overcoming this human consciousness.

Cummings’s “Since Feeling is First” compares the inadequacy of mental analysis with the beauty of emotional spontaneity by “argu[ing] feeling and the abandonment of inhibition to larger forces” (Heyen 133). For the poet, acute perception comes from feeling, not thinking, which only allows us to “see” indirectly. In other words, the beauty of the experience is, in and of itself, proof of the power of beauty. Thus, Cummings desires the reader “to render the image of what we see, forgetting everything that existed before us” (Cohen 42). Such a statement is not a condemnation of rationality, but instead an affirmation of the mystery of things, which is more compatible with feeling than with knowing, supposing the latter to be a form of measuring that lacks love. For Cummings, mind is only a villain when it becomes dissociated from feeling. Yet, with his first line, it is very important that he convince his reader of his premise that “feeling is first.” For, Cummings is writing a seduction poem. He is telling the woman in the poem, in a carpe diem manner reminiscent of seventeenth-century style, to make good use of time, to act from feeling, to abandon her “syntax” in…

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…raff, Gerald. Poetic Statement and Critical Dogma. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1980.

Heyen, William. “In Consideration of Cummings.” Southern Humanities Review Spring. 1983: 131-42.

Jarrell, Randall. “The Profession of Poetry.” Partisan Review Fall. 1950:


Knight, G. Wilson. The Starlit Dome-Studies in the Poetry of Vision. New York: Barnes and Noble Inc., 1960.

Maurer, Robert E. “Latter-Day Notes on E. E. Cummings’s Language.” E. E. Cummings: A Collection of Critical Essays. 1972: 79-99.

Vivante, Leone. English Poetry and its Contribution to the Knowledge of a Creative Principle. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1983. Wesolek, George. “E. E. Cummings: A Reconsideration.” Renascence Autumn. 1965: 3-8.

Williams, Meg Harris. Inspiration in Milton and Keats. Totowa: Barnes and Noble Books, 1982.

Triumph of Free Will in Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange

Triumph of Free Will in A Clockwork Orange

Amidst a population composed of perfectly conditioned automatons, is a picture of a society that is slowly rotting from within. Alex, the Faustian protagonist of A Clockwork Orange, and a sadistic and depraved gang leader, preys on the weak and the innocent. Although perhaps misguided, his conscientiousness of his evil nature indicates his capacity to understand morality and deny its practice. When society attempts to force goodness upon Alex, he becomes the victim. Through his innovative style, manifested by both the use of original language and satirical structure, British author Anthony Burgess presents in his novella A Clockwork Orange, the moral triumph of free will within the controlling hands of a totalitarian society.

With the intention to install order and justice to protect human rights, society contrarily threatens human life by its own adverse imposition. This satire of society portrays the author’s opposition to the prominent behaviorism movement, led by B.F. Skinner. Ironically, Clockwork seems to ridicule the utopian society depicted in Skinner’s Walden Two (Aggeler 70). Proponents of behaviorism advocated the human conditioning described in Skinner’s work. Burgess’s imaginatively fabricated language found in Clockwork, known as Nadsat, carries this theme to the reader. At first reading, this fabricated jargon seems preposterous and difficult to understand, but by the end, the onomatopoeic wording flows naturally and thus “the effect of Nadsat on the reader functions as an ironic comment on the novel itself” (Foote, 87). Burgess conditions the readers themselves to comprehend Nadsat, yet they are fully unaware of this imposition. The language itself enthrall…

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…. A Clockwork Orange. 1986. Norton and Company, Inc. New York

Evans, Robert O. “The ‘Nouveau Roman,’ Russian Dystopias, and AnthonyBurgess.” British Novelists since 1900. AMS Press, 1987. pp253-66. Reprinted in CLC. vol 62. pp130-132.

Foote, Timothy. “Wolf of God.” Time, The Weekly Newsmagazine. March 17,1975, pp.84-86. reprinted in CLC. vol 10. pp87-90.

Mazour, Anatole G., ed. World History. 1993. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc. pp423

Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. “Conditioning.” Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature. 1995. ABC-CLIO Inc. Santa Barbara, CA. pp143

Tilton, John W. “’A Clockwork Orange’: Awareness is All.” Cosmic Satire in the Contemporary Novel. 1997. Asocciated University Presses, Inc. p.21-42. reprinted in CLC. vol 15. p.104-107

Wade, Carol, ed. Psychology. 5th Addition. 1998. Addison-Wesley Education Publishers Inc. pp257.

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