“The House of Night”: Romantic Propaganda against the King Essay example

“The House of Night”: Romantic Propaganda against the King Essay example

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It is unfortunate that the man considered “the father of American Literature” has passed through history nearly unnoticed for his literary contributions. He still gets some recognition, but not like Hawthorne or Poe. Most studies say that “The House of Night” is his best poem, written at a time during the transition from the Enlightenment to the Romantic period. Its gothic themes and descriptions of the supernatural make some historians consider “The House of Night” to be the first romantic poem in America. However, “The House of Night” is not merely the personification of death, and a dark walk through his domain. Freneau was working a different angle when he wrote the poem. The enlightenment thinkers of his time were prone to using the idea of human reason and common sense in their rhetoric. Freneau did not want to write on the war like his colleagues and contemporaries, so instead he opted for a different route. In “The House of Night,” Freneau seized the opportunity to use the imagery and emotion present within the newly emerging Romantic genre to speak to the citizens of the thirteen colonies about his thoughts on the revolution. The poem became an emotional call-to-arms; propaganda bent on urging on the colonies in their resistance to the King of Great Britain.

The speaker’s dream opens in a desolate world, devoid of life. After walking through the barren land for a while, he comes upon an “awful dome” (line 69). Inside, there are men that are privately speaking about death. The speaker criticizes the men’s learned ways, and he believed that they were “pathetic” to be speaking of life and death in such a cavalier manner.
Further along in the building he comes upon Death, a creature that is ironically closing on its ow...

... middle of paper ...

...e poem to a mere twenty-one stanzas. The most important passages about the tyrant King George III taking over for Death are in the original publication of the poem. At the time they were in the midst of the war that was their country’s bid for freedom from an oppressive tyrant. The dark imagery offered through romanticism contextualized Death for Freneau and his readers. Death is given a face, the King of England, the man who would take their loved ones from them at no consequence to himself.

Works Cited

Freneau, Philip M, and Fred L. Pattee. The Poems of Philip Freneau, Poet of the American Revolution. Princeton, N.J: The University Library, 1902. University of Toronto-Robarts Library Archive. Web. 26 Sep. 2011.
Wallace, A. J., and R. D. Rusk. Moral Transformation: The Original Christian Paradigm of Salvation. New Zealand: Bridgehead Publishing, 2010. Print.

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