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by whitepegasus
Last updated 6 years ago

Language Arts
American Literature

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In The Devil and Tom Walker, the forest Tom finds the devil in is symbolic of individuality, through the story, Tom Walker and his wife venture into the forest and make deals with the devil. In the forest, we find out just what kind of people Tom and his wife are. Tom's wife sets out to make a deal with the devil, and "he found she had carried off in her apron the silver teapot and spoons and every portable article of value." Not that Tom's actions are any better, but it is in the forest that we learn what kind of man Tom really is.

In Thanatopsis, Bryant says that we should not be afraid of death, but embrace it as an extension of our freedom. He says death "glides into his darker musings, with a mild and healing sympathy...steals away their sharpness" meaning that death takes away the sharpness of the world and frees man up to a place greater than the world he lived in.

In The Law of Life, London says, "But a little while, on the first pinch of famine or the first long trail, and she would be left, even as he had been left, in the snow, with a little pile of wood." Leaving those who could no longer contribute to society was not a common way of life in this time. The Eskimos in The Law of Life however have their own moral code. They have their own society and are free to live their own way.

How does the literature reflect what it means to be an American?

What does it mean to be an American?

From the early romantics to the transcendentalists to the naturalists, one thing is clear. Americans are independent and free. They may need a little help, but Americans are independent.


Final by Allie Womack - April 2014

In Paul Revere's Ride, Longfellow stresses Revere's individuality by saying "impatient to mount and ride...on the opposite shore walked Paul Revere," saying Revere was on the shore alone, waiting to ride through Massachusetts Longfellow turned Revere, a Colonial Militia Officer, into a normal man independently notifying all of Massachusetts that their former persecuters were approaching their new land and trying to take their independence.

Although mental illness wasn't looked highly or lowly upon in the days of The Fall of the House of Usher, the fact itself is individuation. Poe says Usher's "action was alternately vivacious and sullen. His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision." Usher's mental illness definitely set him apart from the rest of the people of the day, and Usher obviously didn't try to hide it, as he invited the narrator to visit him.

In Life on the Mississippi: A Boy's Ambition, Twain said, "These ambitions faded out, each in its turn; but the ambition to be a steamboatman always remained." The boys expressed their individuality through their dreams. Even though they all wanted to be steamboatmen, it was each of their dreams individually and they were free to dream whatever they pleased.

In Nature, Emerson says "It is certain that the power to produce this delight does not reside in nature, but in man," meaning that man has a power independent of nature, a power to produce great delight. Emerson is saying that, although man needs nature, man also possesses many qualities that make him independent.


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