Section 3 Late Romanticism
I. Nathaniel Hawthorne
(1) Two collections of short stories: Twice-told Tales, Mosses from and Old Manse
(2) The Scarlet Letter
(3) The House of the Seven Gables
(4) The Marble Faun
3. point of view
(1) Evil is at the core of human life, “that blackness in Hawthorne”
(2) Whenever there is sin, there is punishment. Sin or evil can be passed from generation to generation (causality).
(3) He is of the opinion that evil educates.
(4) He has disgust in science.
4. aesthetic ideas
(1) He took a great interest in history and antiquity. To him these furnish the soil on which his mind grows to fruition.
(2) He was convinced that romance was the predestined form of American narrative. To tell the truth and satirize and yet not to offend: That was what Hawthorne had in mind to achieve.
5. style – typical romantic writer
(1) the use of symbols
(2) revelation of characters’ psychology
(3) the use of supernatural mixed with the actual
(4) his stories are parable (parable inform) – to teach a lesson (来源：EnglishCN.com)
(5) use of ambiguity to keep the reader in the world of uncertainty – multiple point of view
II. Herman Melville
(5) White Jacket
(6) Moby Dick
(8) Billy Budd
3. point of view
(1) He never seems able to say an affirmative yes to life: His is the attitude of “Everlasting Nay” (negative attitude towards life).
(2) One of the major themes of his is alienation (far away from each other).
Other themes: loneliness, suicidal individualism (individualism causing disaster and death), rejection and quest, confrontation of innocence and evil, doubts over the comforting 19c idea of progress
(1) Like Hawthorne, Melville manages to achieve the effect of ambiguity through employing the technique of multiple view of his narratives.
(2) He tends to write periodic chapters.
(3) His rich rhythmical prose and his poetic power have been profusely commented upon and praised.
(4) His works are symbolic and metaphorical.
(5) He includes many non-narrative chapters of factual background or description of what goes on board the ship or on the route (Moby Dick)
I. Walt Whitman
2. work: Leaves of Grass (9 editions)
(1) Song of Myself
(2) There Was a Child Went Forth
(3) Crossing Brooklyn Ferry
(4) Democratic Vistas
(5) Passage to India
(6) Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking
3. themes – “Catalogue of American and European thought”
He had been influenced by many American and European thoughts: enlightenment, idealism, transcendentalism, science, evolution ideas, western frontier spirits, Jefferson’s individualism, Civil War Unionism, Orientalism.
Major themes in his poems (almost everything):
l equality of things and beings
l divinity of everything
l immanence of God
l evolution of cosmos
l multiplicity of nature
l self-reliant spirit
l death, beauty of death
l expansion of America
l brotherhood and social solidarity (unity of nations in the world)
l pursuit of love and happiness
4. style: “free verse”
(1) no fixed rhyme or scheme
(2) parallelism, a rhythm of thought
(3) phonetic recurrence
(4) the habit of using snapshots
(5) the use of a certain pronoun “I”
(6) a looser and more open-ended syntactic structure
(7) use of conventional image
(8) strong tendency to use oral English
(9) vocabulary – powerful, colourful, rarely used words of foreign origins, some even wrong
(10) sentences – catalogue technique: long list of names, long poem lines
(1) His best work has become part of the common property of Western culture.
(2) He took over Whitman’s vision of the poet-prophet and poet-teacher and recast it in a more sophisticated and Europeanized mood.
(3) He has been compared to a mountain in American literary history.
(4) Contemporary American poetry, whatever school or form, bears witness to his great influence.
II. Emily Dickenson
(1) My Life Closed Twice before Its Close
(2) Because I Can’t Stop for Death
(3) I Heard a Fly Buzz – When I died
(4) Mine – by the Right of the White Election
(5) Wild Nights – Wild Nights
3. themes: based on her own experiences/joys/sorrows
(1) religion – doubt and belief about religious subjects
(2) death and immortality
(3) love – suffering and frustration caused by love
(4) physical aspect of desire
(5) nature – kind and cruel
(6) free will and human responsibility
(1) poems without titles
(2) severe economy of expression
(3) directness, brevity
(4) musical device to create cadence (rhythm)
(5) capital letters – emphasis
(6) short poems, mainly two stanzas
(7) rhetoric techniques: personification – make some of abstract ideas vivid
III. Comparison: Whitman vs. Dickinson
(1) Thematically, they both extolled, in their different ways, an emergent America, its expansion, its individualism and its Americanness, their poetry being part of “American Renaissance”.
(2) Technically, they both added to the literary independence of the new nation by breaking free of the convention of the iambic pentameter and exhibiting a freedom in form unknown before: they were pioneers in American poetry.
(1) Whitman seems to keep his eye on society at large; Dickinson explores the inner life of the individual.
(2) Whereas Whitman is “national” in his outlook, Dickinson is “regional”.
Dickinson has the “catalogue technique” (direct, simple style) which Whitman doesn’t have.