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Comparing the Hero in Fall of the House of Usher, Rip Van Winkle, and May-Pole of Merry Mount

Powerful Essays
The Romantic Hero in Fall of the House of Usher, Rip Van Winkle, and May-Pole of Merry Mount

Hero n. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities. Though this is the definition of hero according to Random House Webster’s Dictionary, the Romantic interpretation of hero is quite different. A Romantic hero is usually somewhat innocent and carefree, separate from the masses, and is almost always on some type of journey. This hero is idealistic, non-conforming, and rarely lives in the “here and now,” but, on the contrary, is well rounded, skilled in some fashion, and able to communicate with all walks of life. Romantic heroes are found in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, and Washington Irving.

Edith and Edgar are the hero and heroine of “The May-Pole of Merry Mount” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Though the people of Merry Mount are themselves romantic, these two characters typify authentic Romantic qualities. In this short story, May is a time for renewal, merriment, and celebration. This season is full of color, laughter, and animal-like costumes. “Within the ring of the monsters, appeared the two airiest forms…” (624). Edith and Edgar, the focus of the festivities, are getting married and are adorned with vibrant garments; therefore, are the most beautiful and admired of the Merry Mount group. They are both young and innocent, which is also an attribute of Romantic heroes. While waiting for the ceremony to begin, Edgar glances at Edith and is surprised by her disposition. He questions her “pensive” look and explains to her “that nothing of futurity will be brighter than the mere remembrance of what is now passing”(625). Edith then acknow...

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In conclusion, not all definitions of hero can be found in the dictionary. Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Edgar Allen Poe offer three contrasting portraits of a Romantic hero. Rip, Edith and Edgar, and Roderick may not fill Webster’s shoes of criteria, but their wardrobe is truly Romantic.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The May-Pole of Merry Mount.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Bayn. New York: Norton & Company, 1999. 623-630.

Irving, Washington. “Rip Van Winkle.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Bayn. New York: Norton & Company, 1999. 429-439.

Poe, Edgar Allen. “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Bayn. New York: Norton & Company, 1999. 717-730.
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