Category Archives: America Literature

The lives of Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman

Question

The Lives of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman

Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman are two of the most famous African Americans in history.  Both were prominent abolitionists who escaped slavery and helped lead numerous other slaves to freedom during the time of the Civil War.  Although Douglass and Tubman share many similarities, they also have some differences between them, such as in the way in which they escaped slavery. 

In a well-developed essay, compare and contrast Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, explaining their similarities and differences.  Provide facts and examples to support your comparisons.

Sample paper

The lives of Fredrick Douglass and Harriet Tubman

Frederick Douglass in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman in her work and publications such as the road to freedom, both wrote about their lives as slaves in America telling very compelling stories.  As with many other slaves, they both shared a vision of opportunity, and that vision drove them through numerous comparable, yet unique deterrents. Despite the fact that both Douglass and Tubman persevered through numerous hardships in their attempt to get freedom as a slave, sex affected the route in which their servitude was experienced. There were a wide range of routes in which educational encounters for Tubman, who was a female slave, contrasted from Douglass who was a subjugated male.

Douglass felt it was an imperative need to be literate.  When his mistress, Mrs. Auld, first taught him to read and then his master, Mr. Auld, objected to this, this showed Douglass the importance of literacy.  As an example of how important it was to Douglass to learn how to read and write he stated, “Though conscious of the difficulty of learning without a teacher, I set out with high hope, and a fixed purpose, at whatever cost of trouble, to learn how to read.”  In view of this objective, Douglass did whatever it took to take in the essentials of perusing and composing. He considered a wide range of crafty approaches to pick up this learning (Douglass, et al. 77). Douglass vouched for utilizing cunning and gift on the young men of the group as a method for learning and rehearsing his letters. Indeed, even as a youthful kid, Douglass understood that information was power. Proficiency gave Douglass the ability to advance the quality to free himself from the individuals who might keep him uninformed and a slave.

On the other hand, Harriet Tubman was not lucky enough to acquire education, but that did not prevent her from becoming one of the celebrated and brave people in history. Her status as a woman and a slave legally prohibited her from getting education considering that back then it was against the law to teach slaves. Tubman barely mentions the use of reading and writing as a way to fight against her oppressors but rather widely talks of her struggle to defend her brothers and sister from being sold to other plantation after her first three sisters were sold away.  Additionally, much of her fight against oppression and slavery focused on taking slaves from Maryland to Free states such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or Canada (Rudisel and Blaisdell 59). Unlike Fredrick who used education as his main weapon to fight slavery, her strength comes from close friends and family members which prompted her to become a spy and an expert in the use of weapons prompting her to become the first woman to lead an army to war during the civil war.

One of the similarities between Douglass and Tubman is that both were slaves who had the zeal and willingness to overcome their immediate problems for the greater good of the black nation. Both icons had to fight their way to prominence in different ways and manners fights. Their immediate state as slaves presented a lot of obstacles and challenges, but their perseverance and patience finally paid off when they escaped to freedom (Rudisel and Blaisdell 99).  Douglass clearly states that he had previously attempted to escape slavery on two other occasions but did not succeed. However, on the third attempt with the help of Anna Murray he successfully made his way to New York. On the other hand, Harriet has to patiently wait for the death of her owner before she could find her way to Philadelphia.  Her patience and endurance to all mistreatment finally came to an end.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick, et al. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself: Authoritative Text Contexts Criticsm. 2017.

Rudisel, Christine, and Robert Blaisdell. Slave Narratives of the Underground Railroad. 2014.

Related:

Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow and the Early Writers

Frederick Douglass’s Quotation

Question

Responding to Frederick Douglass’s Quotation

Frederick Douglass once said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress.”

Based on what you have learned about Douglass, write a multi-paragraph essay explaining what you think he meant by this statement. Make sure to include details and examples to support your interpretation

Sample paper

Frederick Douglass’s Quotation

America is one of the few countries that extensively practices slavery and racial segregation back in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a result of mistreatment of the black community there emerged powerful and prominent African-American leaders who tirelessly fought for the freedom of their tribesmen and Fredrick Douglass was one of them. Frederick was a famous American abolitionist, author, and orator. He was born a slave and knew all the troubles and challenges of being black back them which prompted him to escape at the age of 20 and went on to become a prominent anti-slave activist. Through his autobiographies, he extensively highlights the plight of slaves throughout the American society. Through his speeches and editorials, he inspired, persuaded as well as stimulated African-Americans and all world leaders to protests against slavery and racism. Also, he gave an unstoppable voice of seek after his kindred tribesmen, grasped abolitionist legislative issues and lectured his own image of American standards (Kytle 95). In this manner, through his work, Fredrick is recognized as a standout amongst the most vital dark American pioneers of the nineteenth century.

One of the important and famous quotes made by Fredrick “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” continues to inspire most people from different backgrounds in the world today. Fredrick made this quote at a time when black Americans were facing racing and segregation in America and were in the process of fighting for their freedom which would promote equality thus reducing segregation. The quote was meant to encourage black Americans to take actions and fight for their freedom because their goals and objectives could not be achieved by merely talking. Thus, according to Fredrick, those who wanted freedom from their colonial masters had to embrace and accept agitation because crops cannot grow without plowing up the ground (Douglass, et al. 79). As a result, black Americans had to accept that they would not be handed their freedom and equality on a silver platter.  They had to sweat and fight for it even if it meant to spill blood and take weapons to fight the white colonial masters.

The general sentiment of the human being is that man who will not fight for himself when he has the power and means to do so is not worth being fought for by others.  Therefore, black Americans had to show the will, the power and the ability to stand up in the face of the white settlers and demand their freedom for them to rally support from other races. Actions speak louder than works.  As a result, African-Americans needed to take up the initiative to start the antislavery and abolitionist movements as well as armed struggle since who would be free need to strike the blow themselves (Douglass 100). However, it is worth noting that in this concept the word struggle may be used to refer to different kinds of battle be it moral or physical, but those who want freedom or progress must pay the price.

Any human being who pays little or no attention and value to freedom for himself may find it difficult to value it for others.  Therefore, through the struggle for freedom, black-Americans would know the value of freedom and progress and thus, they would do anything and everything to guard it and to ensure they do not lose it again. Therefore, any progress or development must come as a result of struggle or a price that the parties involved must pay.

Works Cited

Douglass, Frederick. “NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS.” Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, pp. 1-117.

Douglass, Frederick, et al. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself: Authoritative Text Contexts Criticsm. 2017.

Kytle, Ethan J. “Frederick Douglass, Perfectionist Self-Help, and a Constitution for the Ages.” Romantic Reformers and the Antislavery Struggle in the Civil War Era, pp. 72-113.

Related:

Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow and the Early Writers

Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow and the Early Writers

Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow and the Early Writers

This paper is ENG 201 American Literature to 1865

Whitman, Dickinson, Longfellow and the Early Writers

The works of Whitman, Dickinson and Longfellow bear many similarities as well as differences in terms of tone and language with that of the early writers. Whitman employs a hopeful tone in most of his writings. His main objective is to give hope to people that they can still receive salvation. For instance in the poem “A Noiseless Patient Spider”, Whitman writes: “And you, O my soul, where you stand, surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them…” (Kummings, 2005). p. 327). Early writers such as Jonathan Edwards chose a menacing tone in most of his summons. He threatens followers with damnation using metaphors as in: “The God that holds you over the spit of hell, much as one holds a spider …. Over the fire; His wrath towards you burns like fire …” (Edwards and Frankena, 1960, p. 113).

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In majority of his poems, Longfellow used a sentimental tone that appeal to his readers’ emotions. For instance the poem “Pegasus in Pound”, Longfellow employs a sentimental tone throughout the work, similar with other works such as his popular “Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie.” The later is a reflection of fishermen and farmers who lead a mundane life, only to be thrown into disarray after war erupts. Dickinson employs a homiletic tone in most of her works.

A striking similarity between the works of Whitman, Longfellow and Dickinson and earlier American writers is the use imagery and metaphors in both works. Common symbols used in all works include sun, moon, stars, animals, birds, and others. Dickinson usually used images of nature such as the sun, hills and rivers. Having a tinge of purists’ influence in her works, Dickinson used nature in developing imagery as a way of seeking significance with nature – to her, God is manifested through nature.

References

Edwards, J., & Frankena, W. K. (1960). The nature of true virtue. Ann Arbor: Univ. of     Michigan Press.

Kummings, D. (2005). Companion to Walt Whitman. Oxford: Blackwell Pub.

 

Nature in Early and Latter American Literature

Nature in Early and Latter American Literature

Nature in Early and Latter American Literature

Both the earliest writings of Iroquois League and Jonathan Edwards and the latter works of Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman contain rich expressions on nature. However, it is the different ways in which nature is presented during the puritan period (16th to 17th) century and during the latter period that sets the works apart. The purists viewed nature as a physical manifestation of God. To them, nature provided the lens through which man could see or sense and understand God. The sheer beauty of nature is in their views illustrative of a Divine Being. Man was part of nature and thus could not have dominion over it. On the other hand, the transcendentalists (Emerson, Thoreau & Whitman) held the premise that man must understand nature in order to increase his aesthetic, moral and intellectual knowledge. Additionally, a return to nature was the only sure way for man to invigorate his spirit and to rejuvenate his soul. Thus, it was important for man to alienate himself from society and rendezvous with nature. Nonetheless, they still held the belief on the interconnectedness between man’s spirituality and nature.

Edward’s writing during the Stockbridge era reveal much of his thoughts about nature and God. Edward’s references on nature are more of an ontological sense and prescribe certain ethics. Edward believed that nature was a physical manifestation of divinity. His belief in nature’s beauty as a physical manifestation of God is evident in a number of his works. In “Two Treatises” Edward asserts that God is “distinguished from all other beings and exalted above them chiefly by his divine beauty.” (McClymond and McDermott, 2012, p. 69). This beauty can be observed in the world around us. Not only does Edward use references to nature due to its aesthetic appeal but also as a way of describing man’s internal thoughts and inclinations. The beauty in “nature” is also seen as having good moral values. As Edward asserts, “[God] deals with man according to his nature of as a rational creature” (McMichael & Leonards, 2011, p. 36).

Edward asserts that man is rational in nature, able to make decisions and comprehend things (Lee, 2000). For this reason, God is able to deal with men. For instance, man must worship God for man is the only of the earthly creatures that is able to understand God. Man cannot hold dominion over the supernatural world. And in this light, man can also not be able to fully dominate nature, but only to some level. Man’s nature to be a rational creature gives a different meaning of “nature.” In this case, “nature” refers to a state of being, as opposed to the physical world. In the book “The Nature of True Virtue”, Edward writes that true affections of men towards fellow men only arise from “that habit or frame of mind, wherein consists a disposition to love being in general.” (Edwards and Frankena, 1960, p. 63). Thus, it is the nature or state of being for men to develop positivity towards others.

Related Paper : Psychological Critical Approach Analyzing change in Hawthorne’s

Being a puritan himself, Edward sometimes used nature to instill fear among the congregation. This was meant to win more believers into his ideals about the world and morality, and save them from sin and eternal damnation. For instance, he asserts that “The God that holds you over the spit of hell, much as one holds a spider …. Over the fire; His wrath towards you burns like fire …” This is meant to instill fear upon people by using graphic imagery. Edward envisioned a moral world, a world free of sins as exemplified in the book “The Nature of True Virtue”. In the Stockbridge sermons, Edward wrote about God’s greatness and His unending love for mankind. He says “God’s goodness is like a river that overflows all of its bounds.” (Edwards and Frankena, 1960, p. 113). Such references reveal his beliefs on natural objects as a physical manifestation of a Divine Being. Edward’s metaphors were more than mere symbolism, but represented a standard of ethics as well as ontology. However, Edwards does not see nature as a source of right or morality. To him, nature was more of a manifestation of God’s greatness. Nature was beauty, and man was part of that beauty.

In the writings of the Iroquois, physical objects are used as metaphors for ideals or as symbols for greater truths. In most of the works of the Iroquois League, nature or references to nature were a way of showing the interconnectedness between man and the physical world. Common images used include animals, thistles, trees, stars, fire and others that all show that man is in one way or another connected to nature or to the physical world. In the “Great Binding Law”, a number of metaphors are used as symbols for strength, unity and peace. For instance the phrase “I plant the Tree of the Great Peace … Under the Shade of this Tree of the Great Peace … There shall you sit and watch the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five Nations” (McMichael & Leonard, 2011, p. 29). The tree is used metaphorically as a symbol of the covenant that was to be established among five nations. Trees symbolized strength and hence the covenant about to be made. In addition, they also represent durability, just as the covenant which was expected to last long.

Other metaphors used in writings such as “Roots spread out from the Tree of the Great Peace, one to the north, one to the east, one to the south, and one to the west. The name of these roots is The Great White Roots and their nature is Peace and Strength” (McMichael & Leonard, 2011, P. 29) are used as symbols of unity and strength. The roots signify that The Great Covenant would be firmly entrenched in people’s hearts. The anecdote continues explaining about an Eagle placed on top of the tree. In the Iroquois’ literature, eagles symbolized the spirits and in other circumstances acted as a symbol of courage and wisdom. In our case, the Eagle atop a tree signified protector who was watching over everything happening below. The Eagle would give warning on the sight of any danger lurking nearby. This meant that the Council would be keen to safeguard all the Five Nations that were bound by the Covenant.

Read more on : American Literature

The transcendentalists view on nature was rather different from that of purists. Transcendentalists (especially Thoreau and Emerson) believed that a return to nature was the only sure way man could achieve a spiritual rebirth. In his writings, Emerson asserts that: “In the instant you leave far behind all human relations, wife, mother and child, and live only with the savages – water, air, light, carbon, lime, and granite…..and I have died out of the human world and come to feel a strange, cold, aqueous, terraqueous, aerial, ethereal sympathy and existence.” (Ellen, Brulatour and Riley, 1990).  In this case, Emerson believes that leaving the human society and turning to nature can be a suitable way to achieve a spiritual or an emotional rebirth.

According to Emerson, nature is good and thus can be a source of spiritual rebirth. Thoreau also held the premise that a rendezvous with nature was the only way from men to become liberated from societal constraints; a way for them to achieve their full potentials. As Thoreau notes in “Walking”, “If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and wife and child and friends, and never see them again … then you are ready for a walk.” He further continues: “So we saunter toward the Holy Land, till one day the sun shall shine more brightly than ever …” (Moore, Brulatour and Riley, 1990, p. 3).  In this case, a man who leaves the earthly possessions and meets his death in nature is reborn.

Further, Thoreau believed that the modern society was more like a confinement to man. Had man been free from the confinements of the modern society, he would have lived a better life. For instance in “Walden”, Thoreau notes that: “Better if they [laborers] had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in” (McMichael & Leonard, 2011, p.802). Thus, according to Thoreau, the laborers were living a miserable life. Whitman was more concerned about the natural realities common in the world. Whitman’s love of nature is evident in most of his writings. It is clear that he also loved being part of nature. Whitman believed that people who were emotionally stressed could achieve happiness by reconciling with nature. For instance, taking a walk was a good way of reducing emotional stress. Whitman emphasizes on the importance of accepting the natural order of things or nature as it is. Just like nature takes everything, man should also accept everything in a liberal manner. For example, laws, natural order of things, and among others. In the poem “Leaves of Grass”, he notes that: “I exist as I am – that is enough, if no other in the world be aware, I sit content …” (Reynolds, 1995, p. 54).

The earlier works of puritan era had a profound and pervasive impact on the latter works seen during transcendentalism. Transcendentalists notably Emerson, Whitman and Thoreau seem to echo purists view on nature. According to Emerson, nature is full of beauty, just as expounded in the works of Edwards and the Iroquois. In chapter three of his book “Nature”, Emerson asserts that: “The ancient Greeks called the world xoquos, beauty.” He goes further to state: “that the primary forms, as the sky, the mountain, the tree, the animal, give us a delight in and for themselves; a pleasure arising from outline, color, motion, and grouping.” (Emerson, 1849, p. 13) Thus, Emerson sees nature as inherently beautiful. Emerson also held the premise that nature was a manifestation of a Divine Being. According to him, the stars remind generations of man about “the city of God” (Emerson, 1849, p. 5). This echoes purists’ writings on nature that assert nature’s beauty as a manifestation of a divine being.

Thoreau held the view that nature is the ultimate place where man can achieve his full potential. The modern society according to him confined man and hindered him from achieving his full potentials. Thoreau thus sees nature as good similar with the early puritan views. In “Walking”, Thoreau notes that: “I feel that with regard to nature I live sort of a border life, on the confines of a world into which I make occasional forays …” (Smith, 2010, p. 5). Whitman’s writings are also influenced by the earlier works. In the collection of poems “Leaves of Grass”, Whitman exalts nature and examines man’s role in nature. Whitman in particular believed that an actual return to nature would help men rediscover themselves. Whitman believed that the natural world had great power over men as illustrated in one of his great poems:

“O powerful, western, fallen star!

O shades of night! O moody, tearful night! … “

O cruel hands that hold me powerless!

O helpless soul of me!” (Reynolds, 1995).

Both the earliest writings of the puritan era and the later works during the transcendentalism contain rich expressions on nature. The puritans viewed nature as a physical manifestation of God. Their works contain rich imagery on nature. Although they associated nature with God’s work, the puritans did not believe in deriving power or spiritual rebirth from nature which was common with the transcendentalists. The transcendentalists held the premise that a return to nature would rejuvenate their soul and help them achieve a spiritual rebirth. Nonetheless, both the puritans and transcendentalists believed that man was inherently interconnected with nature, and nature was God’s creation.

References

Edwards, J., & Frankena, W. K. (1960). The nature of true virtue. Ann Arbor: Univ. of           Michigan Press.

Emerson, R. W. (1849). Nature. New York, NY: J. Munroe Publishing. Retrieved from             https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=G00hAAAAMAAJ&printsec

Lee, S. H. (2000). The Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards. Princeton: Princeton     University Press.

McClymond, M. J., & McDermott, G. R. (2012). The theology of Jonathan Edwards. New     York: Oxford University Press.

Moore, E., Brulatour, M. & Riley, S. (1990). Transcendentalists perspective on nature.          Retrieved from http://transcendentalism-legacy.tamu.edu/ideas/nature.html

Reynolds, D. S. (1995)Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography. New York, NY:      Vintage Books.

Smith, N. (2010). The role of nature in transcendental poetry: Emerson, Thoreau &    Whitman. Retrieved from          http://www.articlemyriad.com/nature_emerson_whitman_thoreau.htm

psychological critical approach

Psychological Critical Approach Analyzing change in Hawthorne’s

Psychological Critical Approach Analyzing change in Hawthorne’s

The psychological critical approach is a revolutionary way of providing literal criticism. It combines the aspects of modern psychology and literal criticism. In particular, Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory mainly forms the basis of literal criticism. This theory contends that the human mind is made up of the conscious and the unconscious components. This paper will apply the psychological critical approach to analyze change in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”.

Goodman Brown goes through change when he leaves Salem Village for the gathering deep into the forest. From a psychoanalytic approach, Brown moves from the conscious realm (Salem village) into an unconscious realm (the forest). While Brown had a good understanding of the village, the forest was a mysterious place for him that evoked fear. As he enters the forest, conscious thoughts about Faith and the gathering he is to attend fill his mind. For instance, he says, “What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! (Hawthorne 7).

From the psychoanalytic theory, the conscious mind harbors all the memories, thoughts, wishes, and feelings that an individual may have. He wonders whether Faith knowns about his evil plans for the night, eventually concluding that there is no way she could know the truth, as she cannot even stand such a thought. The major motivation for Brown is that he will only attend the gathering for one night and then spend all other nights with his wife. While in the forest, Brown meets an elder person, who takes it upon himself to convince him to attend the gathering.

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Deep into the forest, Goodman Brown begins to experience conflicting thoughts about whether he is doing the right thing. This is the unconscious mind as put forward in Freud’s theory. For instance, on learning that the elder man was friends with his father and grandfather, Brown exclaims, “Can this be so! (Hawthorne 21)” This indicates conflicting thoughts. Conflict between his id, ego, and superego are evident when he meets the elder man. The id seeks to fulfill wishes that cross the unconscious mind without considering the consequences.

Brown is driven by id to participate in the gathering happening in the forest. The ego, on the other hand, attempts to balance id’s unrealistic demands with the real world demands. In making the decision to attend the gathering, Brown applies the ego, noting that he will only attend for “one night” (17). This implies rationalism, a characteristic of ego. The superego is the moral principle, incorporating values learned from the society or family. The superego is evident since Brown tries to convince the elder man that his father “never went into the woods … (17)”.

Brown’s ego and superego are unable to keep in check the id’s demand of attending the evil gathering. Along the way, Brown is shocked to learn about all the noble and respectable persons from the community who regularly attend the evil gatherings. Church deacons, the governor, his father and grandfather, Goody Cloyse, and Gookin are some of the respectable people from the community that Brown comes to realize that they regularly attend the gatherings.

After Goody Cloyse disappears with the help of the elder man, Brown experiences conflict between his id, ego, and superego as he wonders whether he should choose to leave Faith and join cloyse. Brown says, “If a wretched woman chooses to go to the devil … Is that any reason why I should quit my faith…?” (Hawthorne 39). After the elder man leaves, Brown begins to pray that he stands firm against evil. He finally gives in to id urges and grabs the staff, which takes him to the gathering.

It is only when Goodman Brown attends the evil gathering that a major change in his character is evident. While taking the oath, Brown realizes that the woman whose face was covered is actually Faith. He makes effort to save her from evil only to wake up deep in the forest and alone in the next morning. Going back to the village the next morning, it is evident that he has changed.

Brown sees every person he meets in the village as evil. He dismisses Deacon Gookin as a wizard when he attempts to pronounce his blessings. In another instance, he distracts Goody Cloyse from discussing the Bible with a young girl. Surprisingly, Brown rejects even his wife. As she came running towards him with affection, “he [Brown] looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting” (70). Brown distrusts everyone and lives a miserable life until his death.

Work Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Edited by Jack Lynch, 1846.