Dickinson, Hawthorne, and Melville

1418 Words6 Pages
Throughout our history, we have repeatedly tried to exploit the environment (i.e. nature) in order to perfect our lives. We not only manipulated the materialistic and economic aspect of our world, but we have also struggled to use the moral and the spiritual in making progress within ourselves. Instead of relying on ourselves to accomplish this purpose, we have unfortunately sought help from society's traditional institutions. These institutions, in turn, have tired to manipulate us for their own good, resulting in more harm than help. During the nineteenth century, authors such as Emily Dickinson, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne recognized this and have tried to stop it through their writings. To this end, they have adopted Ralph Waldo Emerson's view that people choose to deny the power of reason, or their own mind. He believed that until people choose to see the "light" of reason, they will remain morally dead. With the achievement of reason, external institutions will remain useless and they will understand that the spirit they so vehemently desired is indeed within them and will without a doubt eliminate their moral darkness. Therefore, Emerson affirmed that the only eternal law is that of experience and that "the one thing in the world of value is the active soul-the soul, free, sovereign, active." This essay will discuss how these authors (Melville, Hawthorne, and Dickinson) composed writings that mimicked Emerson's view of life to accentuate individualism against subjugation. To begin, Melville believed that "we are all sons, grandsons, or nephews or great-nephews of those who go before us. No one is his own sire." Thus, his writings both mimic Emerson's views and repel it. For ex... ... middle of paper ... ...imentation. In conclusion, all three authors, Dickinson, Melville, and Hawthorne use Emerson's ideas of individuality in their respective writings. They stressed the importance of the individual over he hypocrisy of society. Although Emerson's views were optimistic, Dickinson, Melville, and Hawthorne have pessimistic sociological views. Melville believed that as an individual, one had no power in one's society. Dickinson disqualified society and reiterated the importance of individualism. She thought that if individualism was not in existence, people would die of insanity. Finally, Hawthorne believed that to attain individualism, one needed to cast off any association to technology and science. Thus, due to Emerson's writings and views, Dickinson, Melville, and Hawthorne attempted to change the 19th century's view of one's life and one's soul.
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