Romanticism's Sublime Style in Rip Van Winkle, Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Billy Budd

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Romanticism's Sublime Style in Rip Van Winkle, Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Billy Budd "Sublime refers to an aesthetic value in which the primary factor is the presence or suggestion of transcendent vastness or greatness, as of power, heroism, extent in space or time"(Internet Encyclopedia). This essay will explore different levels of Romanticism's sublime style in Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Herman Melville's Billy Budd. The essay will particularly focus on how the writers incorporate the spiritual and the terror aspects of the sublime into their work. American romanticism requires the wilds of nature to be the setting for the sublime. It is in this setting that the protagonist senses a conflict of good and evil. Even though the beautiful surroundings would suggests a pure serenity, the shadows in the beautiful setting reminds one that there is a dark side to nature. In each story there is an antagonist lurking about requiring the protagonist to choose his thinking - and ultimately his destiny. The antagonist in Billy Budd is Claggart, in The Legend of Sleepy Hallow, Brom Bones, and in Rip Van Winkle it could be a toss up between his nagging wife or the "company of odd-looking personages" he meets in the mountains. Essentially it is Longinus, a first century philosopher, who is first credited with introducing the idea of the sublime into the arts (Weiskel 8). Longinus suggests five sources of sublimity in literature: "(1) the ability to conceive great thoughts, (2) intense emotion, (3) powerful figures of speech, (4) the choice of noble words, and (5) harmonious composition of sentences" (Kennedy, vol. 12). Each of Longinus? foundational sources for sublimity suggests an... ... middle of paper ... ...n Boulton 40). Works Cited Boulton, J. T. Burke?s Enquiry Into The Sublime And The Beautiful. New York: Columbia University, 1958. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 1997. University of Tennessee at Martin. 4 April 2001. http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/s/sublime.htm. Kennedy, George. "Longinus." The World Book Encyclopedia. 1985. Vol. 12:399. Melville, Herman. "Billy Budd." Ed. Paul Lauther. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. New York: Houghton 1998. 2512-2570. Washington, Irving. "The Legend of Sleep Hallow." Ed. Paul Lauther. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. New York: Houghton 1998. 1354-1373. -------- "Rip Van Winkle." Ed. Paul Lauther. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. New York: Houghton 1998. 1342-1354. Weiskel, Thomas. Romantic Sublime. Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1976.

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