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What was Transcendentalism and what was its influence on Melville? Transcendentalism at its height,was a loose movement of philosophers, artists, educators, and theologians, who infused a philosophical optimism into American life.
They felt America was a land free to experiment with social and moral justice, based on a transcendental truth, rather than a traditional set of beliefs.
The transcendental truth was an absolute and self-evident truth, written in every conscience, a spark of the divine. Henry David Thoreau, for instance, created a whole new idea of what was possible by withdrawing from society and living alone at Walden Pond.
Many of the idealistic thoughts of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and Walt Whitman, became part of a typical new American attitude that life can be improved because of the infinite capacity of Billy bartleby and edna american transcendentalists essay nature.
Emerson became a spokesperson for this group with his essays. It would be equivalent to someone trying to explain the behavior of the hippies in the s, except that the Transcendentalists, though considered outrageous, were usually quite serious and intellectual.
It would be like trying to work with Socrates or Cicero, constantly reminded of how far short one fell of the ideal. Emerson says of these idealists: It is a sign of our times. They complain that everything around them must be denied; and if feeble, it takes all their strength to deny, before they can begin to lead their own life.
Melville was influenced by this movement, but not part of it. He both admired Emerson and criticized him fiercely for being overly optimistic. He is an absolutist. Melville is attracted to idealists and puts them in his stories. Bulkington in Moby-Dick, is an idealist who dies young, like Bartleby, of whom it is said: Melville likes these idealists who think deeply and stand up for what is right.
In his opinion, idealists were a bit naive, like Bartleby, to think they could battle society, or, that they could battle metaphysical forces beyond their control. He believed humans were limited, either through fate, or through some flaw in human nature. Much of his fiction is about human greed, fate, and the lack of brotherly love.
He was older, but both men were established authors when they met in the literary community of Lenox, Massachusetts. Hawthorne had just published The Scarlet Letter and persuaded Melville, who was already keen to break away from writing straight adventure tales, to write in a more literary, symbolic style.
Melville was inspired to change Moby-Dick from a mere whaling story to a masterpiece of philosophical and symbolic depth that, however, did not capture the American public the way Hawthorne had.
Melville continued to follow his mentor in his remaining short stories and novels, but lost popularity, while Hawthorne gained fame.
In many ways, Hawthorne had already touched on the issues that Melville would take up—the problem of evil, for instance, looked at from various points of view. He, like Melville, found Transcendentalism did not adequately confront the darker elements in human nature.
Both Hawthorne and Melville use idealistic characters but weave them into pessimistic plots. Both authors are modern in their use of seeing truth as relative to the observer, making drama out of conflicting points of view.
Is Hester in the Scarlet Letter sinful or a heroine? Is Ahab mad or a hero? Is Bartleby a victim, hero, or bum? There are multiple ways to interpret their stories, and a fundamental ambiguity that disallows easy answers.
Melville had been looking for a way to express adequately the complexities he saw in life, and Hawthorne opened a door for him. What are the historical issues behind this story?
In their own way, the radical Transcendentalists were trying to head off a crisis in American life, pointing out that society needed to be creatively and fairly evolved and that every person was democratically part of the Oversoul, the unity of life.
He ended up siding with the ideology of law and restraint in order to control the evil impulses in human beings. Unlike the Transcendentalists, he did not believe humans could be trusted to evolve in the right direction.
Pre-Civil War America was a bit chaotic with its rapid economic and territorial expansion. Jefferson had pictured a country of farmers, but with the industrial revolution, there was a shift from agricultural production to a market and industrial economy, particularly in the northern cities.
Immigrants and workers could make money through wages, giving rise to the beginning of a middle class.
There was still quite a spread, however, between rich and poor, and Wall Street at this time represented the privileged. The lawyer in the story only deals with the property of these rich people, and his white collar workers are obviously not well paid.12th Grade, 2nd Quarter, English Test for Dr.
H. STUDY. PLAY Bartleby Melville Who- An American novelist. What- Attacked American transcendentalists. Where- New York and England.
When- What- Attacked American transcendentalists. Where- New York and England. When- . Maria Vasquez English Prof. Justine Fitzgerald Final essay: Similar conflicts between Bartleby, Billy is the most prominent American films, Transcendentalism was a literary movement in the first half of the 19th century.
A summary of "Bartleby the Scrivener" in Herman Melville's Melville Stories. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Melville Stories and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans.
The consummate American capitalist, Bartleby struggles with the passive resistance of his fellows in workplace; after engaging in the strife "but, with submission," and "I would prefer not to," his own inability in articulation and employer's cemented position impart an impassioned discussion of modern society.
The human skandhas are body, feelings, perceptions, disposition, and consciousness. When the skandhas come together and interact, they appear to be in 3/5(1). This essay introduces some of the interpretations of Melville's most famous short story.
Like some of the other stories he published following the critical and popular failure of his novel Pierre (), Herman Melville’s “Bartleby, the Scrivener” is an enigmatic, philosophically rich tale.