Enlightenment: Man-centered Emphasis on reason and logic Mind is most important Counter-Enlightenment Mystery-Centered Emphasis on wonder and feeling Imagination is most important VS.
I. Historical Background A. Early 19 th Century 1. War of 1812 forces America to seek economic independence 2. Industrial Revolution occurs: America grows prosperous 3. American population in a state of relative peace What happens when people get bored?
I. Historical Background (cont.) B. Americans seek new diversions 1. New styles of music, art, and literature begin to appear. 2. Americans view their new, largely unexplored continent with a sense of awe and wonder
II. Principles A. Age of Reason failed to fully explain human condition 1. Deists are wrong – humanity is not a machine 2. Machines are unfeeling, unimaginative. Man is both of those things. “O for a life of sensations rather than of thoughts!” Immanuel Kant
II. Principles (cont.) B. Age of Reason failed to fully explain God 1. Romantics believe they can feel God’s presence without proving it 2. Romantics perceive God in nature and believe human imagination helps discover him He is the true enchanter, whose spell operates, not upon the senses, but upon the imagination and the heart. Washington Irving
II. Principles (cont.) C. Mankind possesses a dark side as well as a hopeful one. Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. Poe
III. Romantic Literature A. Era marks the true birth of American fiction! B. Literature often focuses on the unknown or mysterious 1. Detective stories 2. Fantasy and science-fiction 3. Horror C. Predominate themes relate to death, war, evil, and the unexplainable elements of nature and faith.
In Conclusion: Puritans : Man is inherently corrupt and exists solely to give Glory to God and to pray for his forgiveness.” Age of Reason: Man is inherently imperfect but can always improve and exists to use logic and reason to understand the world and improve it. Romantics: Man possesses both a good and an evil side, and his imagination and emotions are his most powerful ways of understanding the world.
IV. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) http://www.yourenglishclass.com/the-simpsons-raven/
A. Poe’s Artistic Vision 1. The epitome of the Romantic era, Poe’s stories emphasize mystery, horror, and imagination. 2. Every single word in a piece of writing should be aimed at creating a single, vivid emotion.
B. Life of Tragedy (cont.) 1. Father abandons family, mother dies of tuburculosis 2. Adopted by Allan family; stepfather disowns him, stepmother dies of tuburculosis 3. Expelled from University of Virginia and Westpoint Military Academy
4. In Baltimore (cont.) D. One day, she’s playing the piano and singing and starts coughing up blood. E. Turns out, she had contracted Tuberculosis and dies a slow, painful death while Poe watches. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XU9QGHGxgO0 Virginia’s only words that we have today – a song she wrote to Poe
5. Death a. Poe is found on the streets of Baltimore delirious b. Keeps yelling only one word: “Reynolds!” until finally saying, “Lord help my poor soul!” and dying. c. Absolutely no records of his death or hospital visit
His grave is in Baltimore, near the Hippodrome and about 5 blocks from Ravens stadium.
Poe Toaster Every year from 1949 - 2008, someone has left roses and cognac on Poe’s grave on January 19 th. Mysteriously stopped.
Baltimore named its football franchise after Poe and his work.
V. “The Raven” A. Unnamed protagonist experiences the arrival of a Raven in the middle of the night. B. Ultimate example of Romantic literature, the man’s imagination is consumed with darkness and fear. C. Bird represents sorrow and pain, which can “nevermore” be forgotten or escaped. Poe knew about this firsthand.
VI. “Black Cat” A. Picked on as a child, the unnamed protagonist is driven to alcoholism, madness, and murder B. Poe’s reflection on dangers and darkness of alcoholism, which he personally experienced. C. Cat largely symbolic of inner desire for “perverseness,” a Romantic value D. Ironic ending: man destroyed by that which he first loves, then seeks to destroy E. Unclear ending induces reader to determine meaning.
VII. “The Tell Tale Heart” A. Unnamed protagonist tries to assert sanity by explaining circumstances of a grisly murder. B. Like “Black Cat,” Poe uses “vulture eye” as symbol of man’s inclination towards “perverseness,” a Romantic value C. Extensive use of dramatic irony: reader knows of insanity of unreliable narrator despite his denials of it. D. Unclear ending induces reader to use imagination to determine meaning.
VIII. “Hop Frog” A. Crippled dwarf exacts grisly revenge upon his captor and tormentor. B. Written late in his career, “Hop Frog” is a subtle autobiographical text. 1. Protagonist is an outcast with no family to love him 2. Protagonist is tortured by alcohol and loneliness 3. Protagonist seeks revenge on his tormentor C. Unlike Poe’s other murder tales, this one presents a protagonist for whom the reader feels sympathy. D. Elements of fantasy and perverseness demonstrate Romanticism
IX. “Pit and the Pendulum” A. An unnamed protagonist is imprisoned by the Spanish inquisition and tortured B. Unique among Poe stories 1. No supernatural elements 2. No murder or revenge C. Emphasis on the senses and the reader’s ability to imagine the narrator’s predicament.
X. Manuscript in a Bottle Unnamed protagonist finds himself on a ghost ship headed towards the south pole Poe subtly alludes to the unanswerable mystery of life after death, which he was fascinated by due to events in his own life Elements of imagination and exploration of supernatural exemplify Romanticism.