American Literature – Romantic Era

The Romantic period is referred to as an era of _____.
optimism

The Romantic period is assigned the dates _____ to ____.
1820 to 1865

What is the American Renaissance?
The American Renaissance was a five-year burst of creative energy producing influential works.

Who were major writers of the American Renaissance?
The major writers were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman. (Edgar Allan Poe would be apart of this group if he hadn’t died in 1849)

What are the 4 cornerstones of American romanticism?
1) Individualism
2) Imagination
3) Nature
4) The distant

What key Puritan doctrine was rejected by the Romantic optimists?
total depravity

To what did Romantic optimists attribute the source of evil since they believed man was basically good?
human institution

The Romantic optimist believed one could fulfill his potential without what transforming process?
supernatural regeneration

From the Puritan perspective, romantic optimists were only attacking the _____ of social evil, not the source. (the corrupt, true cause of sin)
symptoms

Romantic optimists elevated the supremacy of the ____ over the supremacy of _____.
individual; God

What is Intuition?
Something you feel, but don’t know where it came from; a strong gut feeling.

In the Romantic creative process, eighteenth century reason gave way to ____, for ____ was thought superior to _____.
emotion; feeling; rationality

seventeenth century – ____ determines majority opinion.
Bible

eighteenth century – ____ determines majority opinion.
Reason

nineteenth century – ____ determines majority opinion.
Intuition

Because the Romantics relied on the intuitive process, “truth” became ____.
subjective

In addition to the intuitive process, the Romantics looked to ____ as an external source of truth and the sole means whereby God reveals himself. How was this like the Puritan view? How was it different?
nature; The puritans had accepted Nature is the revealing of God, but they had regarded it with less important than the written word of God.

Some Romantics became virtual ____ because of their worship of nature as God.
pantheists
(pan: all; theist: God)

In what way did Hawthorne and Melville not embrace the optimistic view of nature?
They used Nature to symbolize evil, malignant forces that threaten man’s moral and physical destruction.

Emerson and Thoreau were attracted to the distant future in which they envisioned society attaining ____ or reaching the status of a _____.
perfection; utopia (perfect world)

Explain the 2 principles of the short story contributed by Poe.
1) Brevity: the work must be short enough to read in one sitting
2) Unity: all elements of the story must contribute to a single emotional effect.

Hawthorne’s writing was characterized by intense ____ and ____ exploration, often by means of ____.
moral; psychological; allegory

Identify the four literary schools during the Romantic period and their respective writers.
1) Knickerbockers (in NYC) – Copper, Bryant, Irving
2) New England Schools (in Boston) – Longfellow, Whittier, Lowell, Holmes
3) Transcendental Optimists – Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman
4) Transcendental Pessimists – Poe, Hawthorne, Melville

Transcendental pessimists did not believe that transcendental optimism satisfactorily explain the ____ of man.
nature

The effect of both Unitarianism and transcendentalism was to _____.
create God in man’s image

What major historical event in America forced Romantic optimists to re-evaluate their faith in the goodness of man?
Civil War

William Cullen Bryant wrote ____ & ____.
Thanatopsis; To a Waterfowl

Greek word ____ means death.
thanatos

Thanatopsis means ____.
a view of death

“To HIM who in the love of Nature holds Communion”
the idea of getting in touch with Nature

“she speaks a various language”
It’s what she concludes: subjectivism and relativism

“narrow house”
symbolizes coffin

Where does William Cullen Bryant think the eternal resting place is?
Bryant thinks the eternal resting place is in the ground; there is no hope in heaven

what does ere mean? list?
before; listen

“rude swain”
a farmer turns with his plowshare

“eternal resting place”; “couch”; “one mighty sepulcher”; “the great tomb of man”
metaphorical (calls earth a couch)

“the venerable woods”
The woods are reverenced; we can rely on its truth

“hoary”
gray, white (with age comes wisdom)

Basic information on Thanatopsis
blank verse; unrhymed iambic pentameter; allows him to use enjambment

They relied on their ____ to determine ____; God reveals himself only through nature (intuitive process)
feelings; truth

Bryant’s view of death is ____ because it gives you the freedom to live life however you want to because you won’t have to face any ____ . . . but his view is wrong.
convenient; consequences

“The youth in life’s green spring, and he who goes in the full strength of years, matron and maid, the speechless babe, and the gray-headed man – Shall one by one be gathered to thy side by those, who in turn shall follow them”
People die at all ages

To a Waterfowl is written by who?
William Cullen Bryant

Puritan philosophy in to a Waterfowl?
providence of God

What does pathless mean?
the birds vulnerability

Transcendentalists write with their ___.
feelings

Do a transcendentalist’s feeling show in his writings?
yes; true

Bryant writes with the feeling of ___.
Desilitation

What does Ichabod mean?
glory has departed

“To this bird in flight”
apostrophe

Mezzo Cammin is what kind of poem?
Sonnet

Tone in Mezzo Cammin?
Regret

“Half of my life is gone”
Double Entendre; Half his life is his wife and the other half is his actual life

“the years slip from me and have not fulfilled the aspirations of my youth, to build”
Life flies by

“tower of song”
metaphor (song = poem)

his aspiration to build a tower of song mean he wants to ____.
write a grand work of poetry

What is transcendentalism?
a cluster of ideas that influenced New England writers during the middle third of the nineteenth century.

Transcendental Optimists
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman

Transcendental Pessimists
Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville

The term transcendental as well as many of the movement’s ideas, originated with who?
Immanuel Kent

How did Immanuel Kent refer to the transcendentalism?
He referred to knowledge not known through the five senses.

What designation is Emerson given at the beginning of his biographical sketch?
the philosophical leader of transcendentalism

Emerson had a profound influence on what two prominent Romantics?
Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman

What 3 Emerson doctrines attacked the very basis of orthodox Christianity?
1) Perfectibility of Society
2) Divinity of Man
3) Irrelevance to the Bible

What is the subtle, erroneous implication of the first two sentences?
that which has its origin in the past is essentially worthless — history, philosophy, tradition, biblical revelation, — in establishing truth.

What is Emerson possibly implying when he states, “Nature is not fixed but fluid.”
Truth is ever evolving

What kind of future does Emerson describe in the latter part of Nature?
A Utopian future.

In this essay, Emerson declares his not so subtle outrage with man’s worship of what?
the past

According to Emerson, what 2 negatives must be resisted?
1) Conformity
2) Consistency

Emerson’s title Self Reliance is misleading. Why?
The reliance is not upon one’s self but upon the Over-Soul, a spiritual presence residing in every part of the universe within all men.

In the first paragraph, Emerson seems to be emphasizing the importance of ____.
individuality

What general conclusion can be drawn from Emerson’s words when he says, “Envy is ignorance . . . imitation is suicide; [one] must take himself for better for worse as his portion.” How does this tend to reflect the content of 2 Corinthians 10:12?
Comparing yourself to another means that you are without understanding/ wisdom

The last sentence of paragraph one seems to imply that each person is ___.
unique

Address the contradictory nature of the first two sentences of paragraph two.
To “accept the place the divine providence has found for you” is to trust providence not self.

What 2 modern movements are outgrowths of Thoreau’s works?
1) The idealization of primitive life
2) civil disobedience through passive resistance

What was Thoreau’s experimental step of self reliance?
Walden experience

Civil Disobedience expresses what notion espoused by modern radicals?
that conscience is above the law and that each individual has the right — in fact, the duty — to violate any law he regards as unjust.

What type of government did Thoreau argue to be the best? What is the basis of this argument?
He argued that the best type of government governs not at all because “men are naturally good, they will do the right thing when faced with a choice”

Thoreau is labeled a philosophical ____.
anarchist

Identify the 6 descriptions of Thoreau’s Walden.
1) Book on Nature
2) Autobiography
3) Inspirational Literature
4) Expression of Transcendental Assumptions
5) Work of Social Criticism
6) Artistic Creation

Thoreau’s Walden experience combined what 2 elements of the transcendental mind?
1) Romantic Individualism
2) Mystical Asceticism – the denial of material benefits in order to experience the divine as real and near

Explain from the text how the primitive lifestyle is therapeutic for Thoreau.
It is a means of recovering a former happier conscience not dulled by civilization

What Romantic writer challenged the genuine character of Thoreau’s experiment in self-sufficiency? Explain.
James Russell Lowell pointed out that Thoreau lived on another man’s land, borrowed tools from his neighbors, and made frequent trips to the concord for supplies

What was his response to his Aunt Maria when asked if he had made his peace with God?
“I did not know that we had quarreled”

Identify 2 flaws of romantic primitivism practiced by Thoreau
1) Man, like other animals is the happiest in a natural habitat and least happy when subjected to the institutions of society.
2) Doesn’t allow man a soul; no greater responsibility to the creator than that of an animal.

Thoreau believed that conscience is ___ to law; Romans 13:5 teaches that conscience should be ___ to law.
superior; subject

Contrast and compare Thoreau’s view of governmet with the biblical view espoused in Romans 13:1,2; 1 Peter 2:13a; Matthew 22:21; and Acts 4:19.
Rom 13:1,2 – powers ordained of God
1 Peter 2:13a – submit to every ordinance of man
Matthew 22:21 – render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s
Acts 4:19 – right . . . to harken unto you more than unto God

Should Christians resist legal means of redress?
No; Paul did; he appealed to Caesar

Thoreau states, “The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.” This reflects what philosophical view?
relativism

Thoreau writes that the inhabitants of Concord “appeared . . . to be doing penance.” Explain this description, if by the use of the word penance Thoreau means self-imposed punishment.
(literary illusion; sacrificing his philosophy) Thoreau means self-imposed punishment for penance because it later states that Bramins looked straight at the sun, hung suspended with their heads over flames, and sat exposed to fires.

Explain the fallacy of Thoreau’s argument. (Walden)
(biblical illusion) He’s reprimanding people for working

Thoreau – “I went to the woods because I wished to live ___ . . . and not, when I came to ___, discover that I had not ____. I did not wish to live what was not ___ . . . I wanted to live ___ and suck out all the ____ of life . . . to ___ all that was not life.”
deliberately; die; lived; life; deep; marrow; rout (flight)

Thoreau – “Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of human ___, and ___, and ___, and ___, and ____ . . .”
opinion; prejudice; tradition, delusion; appearance

Thoreau contends that we crave only one thing. What is it?
Reality

Thoreau remarks, “I had not lived there a week before my feet wore a path . . .” What is this observation intended to imply about man that Thoreau whishes to resist?
unknowingly we are creatures of habit – tradition; conformity

Who was one of the first blank verse writer?
Walt Whitman

Whitman’s well-known compilation of poems which he continued to revise throughout much of his career was entitled _____
Leaves of Grass

What does your text affirm was Whitman’s “most harmful long-range effect”?
to encourage total freedom both in subject matter and in poetic form (or verse form)

what does blank verse usually mean?
rebellion

Identify 3 qualities of Whitman’s poetry that critics found disturbing.
1) Sexual frankness
2) depiction of immortality (apotheosis of man)
3) praise of self

Whitman abandoned traditional rhyme and meter and wrote in what poetic form?
free verse

Compare and contrast this poetic form with blank verse (leaves of grass)
comparison – both unrhymed
contrast – blank verse (strict meter); free verse (no meter)

Whitman’s poetry is characterized by the neologism. Provide a 2 fold definition of neologism.
– a new word
– a new definition from an established word

What poetic technique is utilized by Whitman in I hear America singing?
cataloging

Cataloging is associated with what type of poetry?
primitive oral poetry (means it was passed down orally instead of in written from)

What are the 2 meanings to self in the Song of Myself?
1) the individual poet
2) the mystical “self” unifying all men

Emerson might refer to “the mystical ‘self’ unifying all men” as ____.
Over-Soul

What is the central image of Song of Myself
grass

What in particular makes O Captain! My Captain! more traditional?
1) rhyme scheme
2) rhymed iambic pentameter

In O Captain! My Captain! What do the following refer to:
captain; fearful trip; ship; prize
Lincoln; Civil War; nation (Union); Winning the war or abolition of slavery.

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d falls under what genre?
elegy (mournful/sad poem) ex. lamentations

What does Dooryard mean?
The yard next to the door

How does When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d follow traditional elegiac form?
moves from a expression of uncontrollable grief toward acceptance of death.

What 3 symbols are used by the poet to develop the poem? (When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d)
1) the lilac – intended to show the love of Whitman and the nation for Lincoln
2) the star- symbolized Lincoln
3) the hermit thrush – bird (represents Whitman) } double entendre

What does the west usually symbolize
death

What term does Whitman use to refer to the lilac, star, and hermit thrush collectively?
trinity

Who did the western star symbolize in When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d?
Lincoln

Whitman – “The great star early droop’d . . .” What is implied by these words?
President Lincoln died prematurely; Causing Whitman to put the guilt of Lincoln’s death onto himself.

To what may Whitman be referring when he says “O cruel hands that hold me powerless”?
anthropomorphic; fate; referring to how he can’t bring Lincoln back.

What natural phenomenon in the finsl lines of Section 2 of When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d could serve as a minor symbol for grief?
the harsh surrounding cloud

Of what may the leaves of the lilac symbolize?
love (the leaf is shaped like a heart)

What does Whitman imply about himself when he writes at the End of Section , “For dear brother I know, if thou wast not granted t sing thou would’st surely die”?
He would die if he couldn’t express himself in his poetry

What is implied when Whitman says “I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night . . .”?
death’s forewarning had gone unnoticed, unheeded

Why would line be italicized?
to show a translation of something
ex. in Whitman’s poem it’s italicized because its a translation of the bird song

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d reminds us of Thanatopsis?
Booth use a form of unfaltering and soothing experience; refers to death; it’s an experience not to be feared

What is Whitman’s view on death/afterlife? Is it Biblical?
Everyone rests peacefully; not Biblical because we believe there is a hell as well as heaven.