Similarities and Differences Between the Prose and Poetry of the Period of American Romanticism
Poetry and prose of the American Romanticism are very similar, but they are also quite different because even if they tell the same story, they can do it in different ways. For example, one of the main characteristics of the American Romanticism is the idea that nature is the best, that nothing could be better than that, while society is corrupted. Both prose and poetry tell readers about that, but they do that differently. I would like to compare “To the Pine Tree” by Jane Johnston Schoolcraft and all books by James Fenimore Cooper because he is the first writer (if I would forget about Mikhail Prishwin, of course) who first comes to my mind when I want to remember a writer who had been writing not paragraphs, but pages about a nature.
James Fenimore Cooper just writes about how beautiful nature is; he describes trees, rocks, animals, leaves, grass, leaves of grass, etc. Since most of his works were about people who were surrounded by nature (especially novels about Nathaniel Bumppo – a man who was raised by Native Americans), he wrote about it a lot. For many writers (including Cooper) it was about uniting with nature just because they thought that it would be better to live, like a Snow White, in the woods, among squirrels and birds, then among people, even if that was not natural for the modern human. Jane Schoolcraft had another message to deliver: nature has always been a part of her life because her mother was a Native American. In her poem “To the Pine Tree,” she sings to the pine tree, which is a symbol of her and her mother’s native land; that pine tree will always be a part of her that she will always remember as something that brought her good memories and was very personal for her.
The second thing that would differ poetry and prose of American Romanticism is an element of supernatural that it is possible to find in many works of this period in literature, but I will compare “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving and “Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. In “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the Headless Horseman represents the supernatural part of the story, while in “Raven” supernatural is a bird that can talk. The difference between these two works of fiction is that Raven is a true supernatural; the person, who speaks to the raven, actually speaks to the bird that can say something, even if this is only one word – “Nevermore.” Raven comes from the other world, the place where Lenore – beloved one of the main character, are now exists, and when the young man asks the raven about that when he will be able to see her, creature says that he will never be able to see her again. Raven do not lie because he knows that for sure.
Headless Horseman is the character that is more interesting because even though he is a very mystical creature, at the end, when Ichabod Crane completely disappears, Diedrich Knickerbocker – the fictional narrator of the story, makes an assumption that maybe there was no Headless Horseman. He says that maybe that was just Abraham ‘Brom Bones’ Van Brunt – another young man who was competing with Ichabod for the hand of the Katrina Van Tassel. Diedrich Knickerbocker supposes that Abraham just killed his opponent while he was wearing a suit of the Headless Horseman. And the last two works that I will compare are “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville. One of the characteristics of the American Romanticism that I, in my humble opinion, consider the most important characteristic of this era – focus on the individual.
In “The Song of Hiawatha,” Hiawatha is the main character and he is a typical hero: he becomes a prophet and guide, he defeats Pearl-Feather, and, after his beloved one, Minnehaha, dies, he leaves his tribe alone to wander. If the reader will compile it with the spirit of the Native Americans and the way the poem is constructed, he will get an epic poem with a strong and good protagonist. Captain Ahab – the protagonist of the “Moby Dick”, is the opposite of the Hiawatha character because even if he is definitely a great personage that stands out of the other people who were on a ship with him, he goes the opposite way than the Hiawatha. One day, Moby Dick bit off his leg, and he became obsessed with the white whale; he promised himself to kill it, no matter what. The desire for revenge clouded his mind, so, in the end, the only person who survived this madness was Ishmael – the narrator of the story. That is what makes Captain Ahab different from Hiawatha: even though he is a protagonist of the novel, he is more of an antihero than a hero. Permanent descriptions of whales remind the reader about how obsessive the captain is about his worst enemy.
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