Presentation on theme: "Reasons and Causes Opposed the optimism and naïve idealism of the transcendentalists Dwelt on guilt and remorse over past sins Discontented with."— Presentation transcript:
Reasons and Causes Opposed the optimism and naïve idealism of the transcendentalists Dwelt on guilt and remorse over past sins Discontented with current circumstances in America (poverty/unjust and cruel treatment of factory workers, poor educational system, lack of women’s rights, slavery…) so they focused on moral dilemmas and society’s ills Not all authors of the period as thought-provoking as the transcendentalists. Saw the universe as confusing and difficult. Evil and suffering had to be explained, accounted for. Life was ultimately mysterious.
Key Ideas/Philosophy “Puritanically dark view of human nature and fate” People are basically evil and apathetic to matters that don’t effect them Nature is indifferent to mankind It is vast and incomprehensible, a reflection of the struggle between good and evil It is the creation and possession of God and it cannot be understood by human beings
Key Ideas/Philosophy cont… Belief in the potential destructiveness of the human spirit Belief in individual truths, but no universal truths, and the truths of existence are deceitful and disturbing Evil is an active force in the universe Focus on the man’s uncertainty and limitations in the universe
Transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau) had an optimistic view of nature and human nature o God found in nature, so nature = good o Nature = truth Anti-Transcendentalists had pessimistic view of nature and human nature o Nature = indifferent to mankind o Human nature = hypocritical, apathetic
A House Divided Anti-transcendentalists Realists Experience Spirituality based on Puritanism/Calvinism Nature is indifferent; Man is evil Man’s dark side Suspicious of science and technology Transcendentalists Idealists/Individualist Intuition Everything is a reflection of the divine soul Nature is good; even Man is good Man and Nature in partnership Embraces science as part of nature
Writing Style Man vs. Nature conflicts bring out the evil in humanity Raw and morbid diction Focus on the protagonist’s inner struggles Typical protagonists are haunted outsiders who are alienated from society Prevalent use of symbolism
Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter o People are hypocrites o Shows pathos for those in society who suffer from being truthful (e.g., Hester Prynne) o “Be true! Be true! Be true!” Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Billy Budd, Redburn