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The Flowering of New England

The American Renaissance:


1840-1860
• Burgeon: flourish
• Height of American literature
• Renaissance: rebirth
• School of thought: Transcendentalism

Events:
• Geographical expansion
• California Gold Rush
• Population doubled by 1830 and doubled again by 1870
• Industrial and urban society
• New technology: railroad, telegraph, improved road systems
• With improvements came problems:
o Poverty
o Increase in crime
o Diseases
o Lack of education
o Child labor
o Ugly mill towns
o Slavery (biggest problem)

Feeling of the Masses:


• Dissatisfied with the present but optimistic about the future.

Areas of reform:
• Lifestyle: utopian communities (include Brook Farm and New Harmony)
• Women’s rights: women could now be trained as teachers.
• Education:
o Public schools organized
o Increase in newspapers and magazines
o Increase in museums and libraries
o Lyceums: organizations inviting speakers
o People grew pessimistic by the end of the period because of all the problems it
caused.

Transcendentalism
• School of thought
• Continued the ideas of the romantics
• Characteristics:
o Goodness of man
o Value of individual
o Value of intuition
o Unlimited potential of man
o God, man and nature share a universal soul, known as the over-soul.
o Respect for nature
o Simplicity

General Facts
• Very idealistic
• Center of thought: concord
• The Dial was the magazine of the transcendentalists
• Father of the movement: Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Follower of Emerson: Henry David Thoreau
• Emerson’s motto: think for yourself. This masterpiece was “Self Reliance”
• Thoreau’s motto: Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.
• Thoreau was more of a doer, Emerson was more of a thinker.
• Idea of the transparent eyeball
• Thoreau refused to pay a poll tax and went to jail for it.
• They feared that the industrial revolution would make man materialistic.
• Transcend: go above

Thoreau
• Believed in civil disobedience, which meant: every individual has the right to express his
disapproval in a peaceful manner, but must be willing to accept the consequences.
• He spent 2 years and 2 months at Walden pond.

Walden Pond
• Walden is a collection of Thoreau’s essays.
• “A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone”
• “In dealing with the trust we are immortal.”
• 1845 Independence Day: Thoreau goes to Walden Pond.
• He did not want to come to the end of his life and realize he had never lived.
• “Must men live lives of quiet desperation?”
• “Man becomes rich by making his wants few.”
• “Walden is a place for the young.”
• “Man is meant to live in tune with the universe around him.”
• Thoreau celebrated, not analyzed.
• Main ideas:
o Simplicity
o Friendship with the created world
o Self reliance
o Romantic individualism
o Encouragement to dream
• “If you have put castles in the air, that is where they should be. Now put foundations
under them.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


• A Brahmin (a socially important New Englander, and a fireside poet: one who wrote
poems appropriate for the family to sit around the fire and read together. Mainly about
nature, life, religious matters, patriotism, etc. “PG poems”)
• Genre: sonnet
• Sadness in his life: his first wife died as a result of a miscarriage. His second wife died as
a result of a household fire when her clothing caught fire. Longfellow extinguished the
flames but she died as a result of her injuries.
• To get over his grief, he translated The Divine Comedy, a long poem written by an Italian
poet named Dante. In addition, he wrote 2 sonnets as an intro to each of the three parts of
the poem.
• Dante: suffered from unrequited love and was exiled from his home in Florence, Italy.
He was threatened with death if he ever tried to return. He wrote the Divine Comedy to
get over his grief.
o An imaginary journey he takes through three places: inferno, Purgatorio, and
Paradiso.
o Two guides: Virgil (inferno and purgatorio) and Beatrice (Paradiso).
o Had to drink from 2 rivers before entering: To enter Paradiso, he had to drink
from Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Then, he had to drink from Enoe, the river
that restores pleasant memories.
o Although the poem is not a funny comedy, it is appropriate because he learned to
deal with his grief by losing himself in his writings. Basically, it has a happy
ending, the definition of comedy in the Greek tragedy.

Sonnets
Definition: a 14 line lyric poem, written in rhymed iambic pentameter (stressed, unstressed, 5
feet per line)

Shakespearean/Elizabethan/English Italian/Petrarchan
3 quatrains (4 lines) and a couplet (2 lines) Octave (8 lines) and sestet (6 lines)
Abab cdcd efef gg Abba abba cdecde
Quatrains are a variation of the basic idea and Octave raises a question and the sestet answers
the couplet concludes it it or opposes what the octave says.

A change or break in a sonnet is called a Volta.

Divina Comedia 1
• A worker comes into the church in the middle of the day. You know it is the middle of
the day by the “Heat” and “vociferations of the street”. He pauses, sets down his things,
crsosses himself, and recites the lord’s prayer. (Longfellow)

Nature
• Petrarchan: the octave presents a scene (mother and child) and the sestet applies that
scene to live in general.
• This is a poem about death. It says that death is a part of nature, and everyone will die in
the end. Nature takes away our playthings one at a time, the same way a mother takes
them from her child. Overall message: Even though man must leave his material things
behind, nature leads us gently to death.

Oliver Wendell Holmes


• Brahmin
• Fireside poet
• Occasional poet
• Medical degree
• Chamber Nautilus: snail like creature in the south pacific and Indian oceans
• Ship of pearl: it carries the chamber nautilus and is the color of pearl.
• The un-shadowed main: enchanted gulfs, sirens, coral reefs, sea maids.
• The message: keep trying to improve yourself as a person until you die.
• Apostrophe: and inanimate object that is talked to as if it could respond.

John Greenleaf Whittier


• Masterpiece: “Snowbound”
• Idyll: a work that describes a simple, pleasant, pastoral/rural scene.
• Imagery: writing that appeals to the sense. Most common forms are sound imagery and
visual imagery.
• Look at some examples of each from the chart done in class****
• Best example of personification: “The great throat of the chimney laughed”
• Review class question***

The Ministers Black Veil:


• Hawthorne
• Sexton: church officer or employee whose duties may include maintenance, ringing bells,
digging graves, etc.
• Pathos: feelings of pity, sympathy or sorrow.
• Ostentatious: stubborn
• Sagacious: wise
• Bugbear: source of irrational fear.
• Parable: a relatively short story that teaches a moral or lesson about how to lead a good
life.
• Lesson: hidden sin isolates man from others as well as from God; therefore, man should
confess his sin.
• Anti transcendentalist because: emphasizes how man is naturally evil (secret sin).

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment


• Allegory: using characters, setting, and action to represent moral qualities in order to
teach a lesson.
• Difference between an allegory and symbolism: in symbolism, the object that represents
something is just as important as what the object symbolizes. In an allegory, the
emphasis is on the moral quality.
• Elements of the allegory:
 Mr. Melbourne: greed for money
 Colonel Killigrew: Hedonism (sinful pleasures)
 Mr. Gascoigne: desire for power
 Dr. Heidegger: Wisdom
 Lesson: youth is spent in the pursuing of trivial things.
• Vocabulary:
 Imbibe: to drink
 Mendicant: beggar
 Visage: face