Concepts in American Novels
Human Vices in “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Poe Essay (Critical Writing)
Updated: Apr 21st, 2021
In “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, the first vice I am going to explore is that of hatred. As the story begins, the narrator distinctly describes his hatred towards the old man’s eye: “Whenever it fell upon me, my blood ran cold; and so by degrees—very gradually—I made up my mind to take the life of the old man, and thus rid myself of the eye forever” (Poe). By becoming as fixated on something as trivial as an eye, one can see that the narrator does really hate the older man, but is seeking some excuse within his mind to make the murder justifiable.
Again, after the narrator murders the old man, one can see his hatred for the eye of this poor old man: “There was no pulsation. He was stone dead. His eye would trouble me no more” (Poe). Again, the narrator justifies his actions by blaming this eye which has caused him so much internal strife.
The narrator of the story also displays the vice of dishonesty. At the beginning of the story, the narrator claims to really love the older man, yet he finds his eye maddening. Again, by choosing his eye to fixate on, it can be assumed that the narrator is, in fact, dishonest and bares some sort of ill will towards the older man. Perhaps he feels burdened by caring for the old man yet he emphasises at the beginning of the story, “I loved the old man. He had never wronged me. He had never given me insult” (Poe). If this were true, why would the narrator feel the need to murder him?
Finally, the narrator exhibits the vice of mistrust. It is clear that there is something wrong with the older man that makes the narrator not trust his intentions. This is again seen after he has killed and dismembered the older man. He does not trust that no one has heard this beating of the older man’s heart that plagues him. He does not trust the police officers that have come to investigate, and this mistrust turns out to be his undoing.
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Characters in Bryan’s “So Much Unfairness of Things” Essay (Critical Writing)
Updated: Apr 21st, 2021
Reading “So Much Unfairness of Things” by C.D.B. Bryan, I feel that I can relate to the main character’s overall situation and the pressure he feels from family to succeed in a scholarly atmosphere. I can see that the pressure for Phillip to do well has been engrained in him probably since childhood: “He was the fifteenth of his family to attend the Virginia Preparatory School” (Bryan). Having had family members attend a school for many generations can make anyone feel the drive to do well, especially if they are not, and everyone else before him did do well.
In addition, I can relate to praying to god for some intervention to do well on an exam as Phillip did in the chapel before his Latin exam. Sometimes, it can feel hopeless if you have not studied the materials beforehand and, as a student, I have hoped that by praying the answers will just come to me in an exam. Finally, I can understand the desire to cheat on an exam, even though I never have. Phillip used the notes he found hidden in his desk in order to do well on the translation portion of his exam. It can be very tempting if you are under pressure to write a note on your hand or hide a piece of paper in your jeans’ pocket.
I think Phillip’s reaction would be like mine if I were to cheat and get caught. He felt very ashamed that he let down his father and family, but it was admirable that he admitted that he did cheat in the end. This is something I would do.
I do not identify with this character’s family situation. My family is very supportive of my education and would not push me to succeed because of familial history at a school. They would applaud my efforts and encourage me to work hard and do my best. In addition, I would never cheat on an exam, and most importantly, I would never sign a statement that I had not cheated if I had. I feel that it is dishonest to lie and sign something saying that you have not. Cheating is wrong, and I feel that someone should do their own work.
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Cultural Hybridity in Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” Essay
Updated: Apr 9th, 2021
To broaden my knowledge regarding modern literature, I focused on examining the examples of novels and stories related to the problem of diversity in American literature. I chose to read and analyze the novel The House on Mango Street written by Sandra Cisneros in 1983. While reading the book, I tried to determine how the author discussed the issue of ‘cultural hybridity’ in her work.
I have found that Cisneros discussed the experiences of Mexican Americans while referring to her background. As a result, the story told by the author seemed to be related to each American who belongs to the ethnic minority or knows persons belonging to it. From this point, this work revealed messages that were easily understood by Americans: challenges faced by minority groups, personal conflicts in the context of social conflicts, and the problem of cultural integration (Cisneros, 2013).
However, in addition to understanding the role of literature in highlighting certain issues or problems, the discussed reading experience was helpful to pay attention to literary elements used by authors to convey a message and accentuate an idea. I was able to focus on the role of a protagonist in a novel, on methods to discuss personal conflicts, and on ways of integrating autobiographical elements in the structure of the work (Martin & Jacobus, 2015). As a consequence, my perception of literature became more conscious.
Cisneros, S. (2013). The house on Mango Street. New York, NY: Vintage.
Martin, D., & Jacobus, L. A. (2015). The Humanities through the arts. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.
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Symbols in Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” Term Paper
Updated: Feb 1st, 2021
The structure of space in Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death”
In “The Masque of the Red Death”, Poe uses space to define division and a sense of safety. His country is being ravaged by a type of plague and his subjects are dying just beyond his palace walls. In his mind, his safety is assured by the space placed between him and the plague by the castle walls. In his imagination, Prince Prospero imagines a perfect world where he can banish death simply by converting the idea of the plague from a terrorizing, death embodying illness to something related to revelry and fun. Of course, he fails in his attempt at both simply because death and time go hand in hand. Eventually, time will run out, regardless of the space you place between yourself and death and then the grim reaper will finally have you.
The arrangement of the rooms and furnishings inside Prospero’s castle
The rooms in the short story are arranged from east to west, in real life, this direction indicates the rising and the setting of the sun. The color schemes he chooses also indicates a pattern of life cycles as indicated by mood colors. The clock in the black room, which looks as hideous as it sounds, serves a reminder to Prospero and his guests that time is constantly passing and each 24-hour cycle that passes signifies the end of one day (a representation of life) and the beginning of a new day (new life). For human beings, the end of a day is dark and sad, typical of the representation of death. Therefore, the clock represents the coming of death.
The symbolism of the Red Death
The Red Death is the symbol of radical egalitarianism from that era and served as the great equalizer of society. It affected everyone, regardless of wealth. The figure gets into the castle to kill Prospero because they have a masque ball wherein the guests are required to wear costumes. So, death easily slips in as a guest at the party. He has Prospero chase him from room to room in the palace to help Prospero come to an understanding of his life and why he finally has to die. Since he served as the lord protector of his guests, he ultimately led them to their doom as well. Making the job of Death easier by gathering them all in one place for easy picking.
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Settings and Meanings in Chopin’s “The Storm” Report (Assessment)
Updated: Jan 31st, 2021
The importance of the setting in reinforcing the plot of “The Storm”
The story is set in two locations: Friedheimer’s store, and Bobinot and Calixta’s house. The author uses the setting to help construct the plot, describe the state of emotion of each of the characters, and provoke a sense of imagination in the reader.
The storm separates Calixta from her husband whom it is assumed did not give her the passion that she longs for. Metaphorically speaking, it can be argued that the storm symbolizes passion and as the storm got intense, so was the passion between Alcee and Calixta “They did not heed the crashing torrents, and the roar of the elements made her laugh as she lay in his arms” (Chopin 116). Similarly, as the storm subsided, so was the passion between the two lovers.
“The growl of the thunder was distant and passing away. The rain beat softly on the shingles, inviting them to drowsiness and sleep” (Chopin 116). The passion between the two characters ends exactly when the storm ends and Alcee leaves. Then everything resumes back to normal.
The storm has also been used to rejuvenate the relationship between Calixta and Bobinot, and Alcee and his wife Clarisse. When Bobinot and Bibi returned from the store, Bobinot was unable to recite the apology that he had been composing on their way home “Bobinot’s explanations and apologies which he had been composing all along the way, died on his lips as Calixta felt him see if he was dry, and seem to express nothing but satisfaction at their safe return” (Chopin 117).
The author described Calixta as a worrisome lady and her reaction towards the return of her son and husband was unexpected. Alcee on the other hand went ahead and contacted his wife through a letter that showed how much he cared and had concern for the safety and health of his family.
Meanings in the title of the story
The title of the story has both a literal meaning and a hidden meaning. It may imply the natural storm however the storm has been used symbolically to imply sexual passion between the two main characters, Alcee and Calixta. A few years before the story was told, the two characters had a moment where they both shared their passion for each other although they decided not to marry each other. As the story takes place, it has taken a while since they last saw each other. As they see each other the old times when they share intimacy is being revived and as the first raindrops, everything works out perfectly to revive the passion.
This passion or storm is only witnessed by two characters. As the story begins, Calixta’s husband decides to wait for the storm to subside. In the context of passion, this can imply that he avoids involving himself in passionate affairs with his wife even though it is very clear that the wife enjoys passionate sexual intimacy (Faust 34). It can also be argued that the title is symbolically a feminine passion. The title is from a natural phenomenon and nature is generally known as feminine.
Before the storm comes, Calixta is consciously unaware of it and her focus was on sewing. It hits her that once the room gets dark. This would suggest that there are things in her present life that suppress her sexuality and her passion; her marriage is among them (Harold 23).
This may be considered to a superficial meaning of the title, however deeper inside, the title had as used since during the late nineteenth century, sex was a topic that was hardly talked about candidly (Elliott 12). By covering it in such a title it helped create standards and restraints.
Bloom, Harold. “Introduction.” Modern Critical Views: Kate Chopin. Ed. Harold Bloom. Pennsylvania: Chelsea House Publishers, 1987.
Chopin, Kate. “The Storm.” The Short Story: An Introduction To Short Fiction. Ed. J. Dennielle True. New York: Pearson, 2011. 113-117.
Elliott, Emory, ed. The Columbia History of the American Novel. New York: Columbia UP, 1991.
Faust, Langdon Lynn. American Women Writers. New York: Inger. 1983.
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Foreshadowing in “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin Report (Assessment)
Updated: Jan 31st, 2021
“There was something in the air menacing her peace. It was at first too subtle to grasp” (Chopin 109). This extract from the story reveals a lot about Desiree and how she unconsciously failed to realize that her baby was a quadroon. During the visit by Madam Valmonde the issue of the baby being black cropped out amid their discussion, although Desiree was unable to notice. The sudden change of behavior of her husband also gave the implication that he had noticed that the baby was a quadroon but still Desiree could not figure it out.
The black race in the story is an accursed race to slavery, although in the home Armand blacks were treated nicely during his father’s rule and a repeat of this happened after the baby was born until a few months later. “An air of mystery among the blacks” (Chopin 109) implies that they were thinking that the child is one of their own. There had to be one among the two: Desiree and Armand, who has a black origin. It was still a mystery in the air among the black servants.
There are unexpected things in the story that are foreshadowed by the phrase “unexpected visit from far-off” (Chopin 109). How it became obvious to Desiree that her baby is black is one of the things. She did not expect that her baby would be a quadroon and when she realized it, it hit her out of surprise. She also did not expect that her husband would be cruel to her after the revelation and this made her want to die because she truly loved him and she thought the same about her husband (Rosenblum). Lastly, Armand also did not expect that he came from a lineage of black people whom he perceived as cursed into slavery.
Even though there is no specific place in the story where it is said that Desiree committed suicide, there are several instances where this notion is implicated. After getting to realize that her baby was a quadroon and Armand being unexpectedly cruel to her, she immediately wrote a letter to her mother Madam Valmonde stating what she wants to do. She emphasized the point using repetition “I shall die. I must die. I cannot be so unhappy and live” (Chopin 110). From this statement, the option of suicide was something that she was considering.
Desiree is also portrayed as a very weak character who wants to constantly be loved and cared for (Peel 225). It seems as though she has never experienced rejection and so she did not know how to respond to her husband’s cruelty. It is also said that she never returned meaning that no one ever knew of her whereabouts. There is therefore a possibility that she might have committed suicide.
In case she indeed committed suicide, then I think that option was inappropriate to explore. It may be as a result of her weakness. Even though she lived in a society that greatly values the purity of race and the black race was considered accursed race, she could have gone back to her mother with the baby where they were all accepted (Foy 91). She is not the only character in the story with a hidden family line, if she were a strong character, she would have demanded an explanation from the husband rather than backing down and deciding to leave. This would have made the husband seek answers about his mother’s lineage. After all, the husband was darker than she was and this would have made him blame the mistake on himself rather than the wife.
Chopin, Kate. “Desiree’s Baby” The Short Story: An Introduction To Short Fiction. Ed. J. Dennielle True. New York: Pearson, 2011. 108-112.
Foy, R. R. “Chopin’s ‘Desiree’s Baby. ‘” The Explicator 49 (1991): 222-223. Online.
Peel, Ellen. “Semiotic Subversion in “Desiree’s Baby” American Literature 1990: 223-237.
Rosenblum. Joseph. “Desiree’s Baby” Masterplots II: Short Story Series 1986. Online. Magill On Literature. 2002.
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Religion and Superstition in Twain’s “Tom Sawyer” Essay
Updated: Nov 6th, 2020
Two belief systems influence the character of Tom Sawyer in The Adventure of Tom Sawyer – religious dogma and superstition. Religion may be defined as the worship of the Supernatural or God. Superstition stems from ignorance and fear of the unknown. The question that arises is if Tom’s religious beliefs are the same as his superstitious beliefs or are they in conflict. Does an analysis of Tom’s beliefs redefine the two terms? The examination of Tom Sawyer’s character shows that Mark Twain used religion and superstition as compatible forces.
Tom’s Religious Opinions
In the novel, the adults in the fictional village of St. Petersburg, where Tom lived, gave importance to religious practices. They insisted on practicing religion seriously and so the children of the village were made to attend Sunday school and visit church. Tom’s religious beliefs are not very firm. For Tom, religion is a perfunctory duty imposed on him by his guardian, Aunt Poly. He attends Sunday school not to gain religious education but to play with other children. According to the village custom, Tom had to visit a church every Sunday. However, he had no interest in sermons. Instead, he merrily laughed at the yelping dog that interrupted the sermon being delivered in the church (Twain 47-48).
Tom does not always adhere to religious customs like saying a prayer before bed. However, religion has a moral effect on him. He feels guilty of stealing as his understanding of religion had taught him to believe so. He thinks stealing is a sin and is conscious of the divine consequences that incite fear in him. Thus, Tom’s religious beliefs were based on his idea of sin, punishment, and retribution.
Clearly, religion for Tom was a duty imposed by society. The religious beliefs were not strongly internalized. However, the fear of sin had created a strong impression on the young mind and the religious code had taught Tom about moral righteousness. Tom can be considered somewhat religious as he showed some understanding of the religious moral code of conduct. However, he did not feel that religious rituals were of great importance and could be ignored as per convenience.
Superstition had a stronger influence on Tom’s character. Religion was a mere obligation to Tom, but superstitious beliefs helped him to make decisions. Tom’s belief in witches, devil, ghosts, and evil create a strong impression on the young mind that influences many of his actions. For instance, when Tom’s tricks to find the marbles fail, he is shocked to find that his superstitious belief had failed. Therefore, he uses another superstitious belief about witches to explain the initial failure.
Though it took him some time to find his lost marbles, yet, he was convinced that he had found them with the aid of the trick enshrined in his superstitious belief. This shows that Tom had many superstitious beliefs, which were open to interpretation. In another instance, Tom refuses to go out for a swim with his friends out of fear when he loses his bracelet that was supposed to protect him from cramps (Twain 135).
Further, Tom and his friends had a strong belief in the magical powers of dead cats (Twain 54). They believed it was a cure for warts and could be used to reveal hidden information. The incident when Tom and Huck went to the graveyard to perform a cure with the aid of a dead cat, they witnessed the murder of Dr. Robinson (Twain 189). This incident set in motion the other events in the novel. Thus, the juvenile superstition of Tom became the catalyst for the unraveling of the main plot of the story.
Tom’s superstitious beliefs influenced his decisions. He sincerely believed in his superstitions and was willing to act upon them that resulted in the unraveling of the main plot of the novel.
Are these two belief systems compatible or in conflict
Religion to Tom is a compulsion, imposed upon by the society. For him, religion is a mandatory obligation that forces the boys to leave their merriment to visit Church. Tom’s understanding of religion is mostly restricted to divine justice and retribution. His religious belief was an outcome of fear. However, religion did not have a strong effect on his decision-making. On the contrary, his belief in superstition influenced his actions. Tom, like the other boys of his age depicted in the novel, had an imaginative mind that believed in ghosts, witches, treasures, and magic. He believed that fantastical creatures and events were evil and must be feared.
Thus, Tom’s religious beliefs and superstitious beliefs arose from fear. Mark Twain writes in the preface to Tom Sawyer that the “odd superstitions” depicted in the books were “all prevalent among children and slaves in the West at the period of this story” (Twain 2). This confirms that superstitious beliefs were present among most children of the time when religion dictated the way of life in most villages. Tom’s religious beliefs create the root of his superstitious beliefs. Hence, religious and superstitious beliefs are compatible forces in the novel.
Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Penguin, 2010.
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Archetypal Characters Escaping Reality in Short Stories Report (Assessment)
Updated: Dec 31st, 2020
It has been accepted that Walter Mitty should be regarded as an archetypal character. Admittedly, many people tend to try to seem better than they are. More so, most people (at least once in their lives) have fantasized about their success or their exceptional deeds. All this is done to escape from real life. Thus, if a person is not satisfied with his/her life, this individual tries to escape from this unpleasant reality.
Likewise, Mitty is not satisfied with his real life. He cannot develop proper relations with people. He is not the person he would like to be. He finds the way out. He starts creating stories where he is the person he would like to be. In his daydreams, Mitty is a man of action who is adored by others. These daydreams help him to endure his real life with all its difficulties.
Another example of such archetypal characteristics is revealed in the story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. Notably, Bierce’s protagonist Farquhar also escapes reality. However, his case is an extreme one. The man is daydreaming about his rescue and his family during his execution (while falling through the bridge). Of course, this instance is an extreme case that can be regarded as an inevitable human brain reaction.
Thus, the two stories reveal archetypal characters. The two stories illustrate the way people try to escape reality, which is unbearable. In the former case, Mitty thinks he cannot bear his life. Thus, he makes up different stories. When it comes to the latter story, it illustrates a specific psychological feature, i.e., people’s specific reaction to certain conditions.
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Positivism in “The Birth-Mark” by N. Hawthorne Essay
Updated: Sep 1st, 2020
In his short novel “The Birth-Mark”, Nathaniel Hawthorne argues that Positivist ideas are not only wrong but also dangerous because they stress the necessity to alter human nature by removing the elements that are ostensibly alien to it, which may lead to destroying one’s life. In the novel, the conflict between nature and Positivism showcased by juxtaposing Aylmer, an aspiring Positivism scientist, and his wife Georgiana is rendered with the help of the third-person view, which sets the tone for the story and defines the reader’s attitude to characters by using very specific epithets to portray them as either victim of Positivism (Georgiana) or the proponents thereof (Aylmer). However, since the narrator is not omnipotent in the novel, certain scenes are missing from it, therefore, fuelling the readers’ imagination and making the author’s point all the more passionate.
The philosophy of positivism has a long and fascinating history. Although its key idea can be traced back to as early as Ancient Greece and Plato’s concept of negatives as God’s attributes that contribute to the development of spiritualism (Shollenberger 56), the actual movement was started by Auguste Comte in the 19th century (Scharff 133). Positivism promotes the idea of observing natural phenomena and identifying the relationships between them so that they could be used as references for introducing improvements to people’s lives (Edgar 56). Particularly, the philosophy of Positivism implies that “ideal science is a science whose function is limited as far as possible to the determination of laws only” (Withers and Shea 97).
The introduction of the third-person viewpoint into the novel allows setting the tone for the story and, therefore, shaping the audience’s expectations, at the same time affecting the development of attitudes toward the characters. For instance, Hawthorne focuses closely on delineating the character of Aylmer by making him not only an obsessed scientist but also a loving husband, who becomes overly fascinated with science.
One must also give Hawthorne credit for not portraying Aylmer, who is positioned as the proponent of Positivism, as the epitome of evil. Instead, he is described in a rather sympathetic, though somewhat condescending, manner: “We know not whether Aylmer possessed this degree of faith in man’s ultimate control over Nature. He had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion” (Hawthorne 420). As a result, Hawthorne’s voice becomes the narrative technique that makes the argument very poignant, even though it might seem a bit on-the-nose.
Similarly, the active use of the third-person narration technique helps describe Georgiana as an innocent victim and glaring evidence of the amount of harm that Positivism may bring. For instance, in the scene where Georgiana drinks the liquid from the goblet, the description of her innocent beauty renders the idea of imperfections being an integral part of natural harmony: “A heightened flush of the cheek, a slight irregularity of breath, a quiver of the eyelid, a hardly perceptible tremor through the frame” (Hawthorne 429). In other words, Hawthorne argues that forceful interference with nature may leave a drastic nark on people’s well-being. The application of the identified narrative device is fully justified by the need to convey the author’s message about the threats of the new movement, as well as the necessity to reconsider the tendency to view the uniqueness of a human being as an inherent flaw that needs to be corrected.
The use of epithets in the characters’ speech can also be viewed as an essential addition to Hawthorn’s opinion on Positivism. For instance, the change in the tone of Aylmer’s speech is conveyed very graphically by showing how he addresses Georgiana: “Go, prying woman, go!” (Hawthorne 428). Thus, the author’s attitude shines through as he emphasizes the changes in the couple’s relationships and Aylmer’s unreasonable obsession with perfection. Hawthorne stresses that Aylmer’s inability to see his beauty as a unique and inimitable human being is defined by the focus on Positivist teachings and the need to introduce what Aylmer sees as natural harmony into his wife. Aylmer’s slow descent into an obsession with the Positivist idea and his following inability to appreciate Georgiana’s imperfections for their true worth, therefore, becomes all the more realistic.
One might claim that the use of the third-person point of view and epithets as the means of rendering the author’s attitude toward Positivism are not the only techniques used by Hawthorne. Indeed, several other tools for pointing out the flaws of Positivism and introducing the readers to the flaws thereof can be spotted in the novel. For instance, the usage of descriptions as the means of rendering the atmosphere and, therefore, allowing the readers to submerge into the novel, can be viewed as the tool for making the story all the more real. For example, the description of the book that Aylmer wrote, as well as reverence and awe with which Georgiana read it, shows Hawthorne’s propensity toward using lengthy descriptions as the means of setting the mood: “The volume, rich with achievements that had won renown for its author, was yet as melancholy a record as the ever mortal hand had penned” (Hawthorne 424). The identified approach helps Hawthorne appeal to his audience on an emotional level and convey the horror of distorting the very essence of human nature.
Furthermore, it could be argued, though, that the novel does not represent Positivism as it was defined by Comte since Aylmer intervenes and distorts Georgiana’s very nature. Indeed, the idea of removing any blemishes from Georgiana’s body can be considered as an argument against Positivism, which viewed non-interference with the laws of nature as the foundation of a sensible approach toward research.
Despite the active use of a range of literary devices as the tools for rendering the flaws of Positivism, “The Birth-Mark” seems to benefit most from the use of the third-person viewpoint, which is used consistently throughout the novel. The identified tool allows making the sensibility of the argument especially conspicuous. Consequently, the dialogue between Aylmer and Georgiana renders the attitude of the author toward the ideas of Positivism rather clearly. For example, Aylmer’s impatience is shown quite evidently in his voice when he says: “And now, dearest, return to your boudoir. In a little while, all will be tested” (Hawthorne 428). The love for his wife seems to battle with his passion for Positivism as the next step in improving human nature and, therefore, making his wife a better human being.
Furthermore, regarding the inconsistencies with the Positivism movement, one must admit that the idea of introducing improvements to the human body was, in fact, an important part of the Positivist movement. For instance, Withers and Shea mention that the focus on using science to make one’s body function better was a crucial part of the Positivist approach to science as a “constructive activity that would improve the human condition” (97). The identified attitude can be seen in the novel clearly as Aylmer’s endeavors to make Georgiana impeccable are described in the novel: “’I submit,’ replied she calmly. ’And, Aylmer, I shall quaff whatever draught you bring me’” (Hawthorne 429). Therefore, Hawthorne criticizes Positivism sharply and emphasizes its threats. Particularly, Hawthorne states that the philosophy deforms the very essence of human nature, stripping one of everything that makes an individual unique.
To argue that the adoption of Positivist approach will lead to the ultimate distortion of the human nature and, therefore, should not be viewed as the ultimate solution to exploring the opportunities that science provides to the humankind, Hawthorne uses third-person narration and chooses epithets carefully so that the necessary mood could be conveyed to the readers. The resulting combination of lengthy descriptions and dialogues that are short yet filled with meaning create the environment in which Hawthorne’s argument about the problems of Positivism becomes all the more powerful. While some of the arguments used by Hawthorne are not quite logical and cannot be applied to positivism fully, the novel targets its audience at an emotional level, making readers sympathetic toward the lead characters. Thus, the literary devices used by the author contribute to the development and support of the argument significantly. Although Hawthorne’s representation of Positivism may seem prejudiced, its disadvantages are shown in a very graphic and convincing way.
Edgar, Andrew. The Philosophy of Habermas. Routledge, 2014.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birth-Mark.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature, vol. 8, edited by Nina Baum, W. W. Norton and Company, 2012, pp. 418-429.
Scharff, Robert. How History Matters to Philosophy: Reconsidering Philosophy’s Past after Positivism. Routledge, 2014.
Shollenberger, George D. God And His Coexistent Relations To The Universe: Scientific Advances Of The Little Gods From Pantheism through Deism, Theism, and Atheism to Panentheism. AuthorHouse, 2014.
Withers, Jeremy, and Daniel P. Shea. Culture on Two Wheels: The Bicycle in Literature and Film. University of Nebraska Press, 2016.
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Old Traditions in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson Essay
Updated: Jul 20th, 2020
Upon reading the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, one cannot help but realize that it is seemingly a critique of the age-old traditions, practices, and beliefs that we continue to follow without sufficient justification behind their continued use. Evidence of this can be seen in the way in which the townspeople seemingly forgot the exact origins of the lottery, what it was for, and why they had to do it in the first place. It even reached a point where the people associated the lottery as a necessity towards controlling uncontrollable natural events, as seen in the phrase: “Lottery in June, corn be heavy soon.” This was similar to the case of the ancient Aztec civilization wherein human sacrifices were utilized in order to bring rain and bountiful harvests. Yet, in either scenario, there is no natural correlation between having a human sacrifice and there being a bountiful harvest. It should also be noted that in the story it was indicated that the lottery was actually being stopped in other villages, with several people within the village commenting that stopping the lottery was a bad idea since it was a tradition that dated back for a long time and was part of the village’s cultural tradition.
This type of argument is quite similar to what is seen in the present wherein various religions such as Islam often espouse practices such as a woman wearing a headscarf or that women do not need to be educated further than what is appropriate. The inherent justification behind such practices is the supposed necessity of conforming to age-old beliefs as taught by the Qur’an. It should also be noted that the mid 1900s was a time of great civil unrest associated with the African American Civil Rights Movement. It is during this period of time that many practices within the U.S. were questioned, and, as such, I believe that writing this story was a way in which the author attempted to showcase the inherent problems with sticking to age-old practices that made little sense when placed within a modern-day era. For me, this is the primary reason why “The Lottery” has become a timeless short story classic due to the proliferation of instances where various societies still continue to stick to old practices and traditions that have no place within the modern world. The best way of surmising the entirety of the story is from this single quote, “”It’s not the way it used to be.” Old Man Warner said clearly. “People are not the way they used to be.” People have indeed changed from the way they were in the past, and it is based on this that the message of the story becomes clear: “it is necessary to move on from the past rather than repeat the same tragedies and mistakes over and over again.”
This essay on Old Traditions in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson was written and submitted by your fellow student. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.