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Response to the age of reform - Essay Example

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Response to the age of reform
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Shehroze Hussain October 20, Response to the age of Reform “The age of Reform” refers to a period of great social development in America during the nineteenth century. This period is specifically characterized by the rapid growth in population and economic complexity of America, together with the reforms that brought about a complete change in the American society. The philosophers and intellectuals laid great stress on the reform of arts and literature. Ideas of Romanticism and Nationalism were the main focus of the literati. The whole American culture was reshaped to provide it a touch of nationalism. On the other hand, the literature was filled with a spirit of romanticism. The reform brought a revolution in the ever expanding American community which was going to lead the world in the next centuries. Here, we will discuss how the age of Reform contributed to the United States’ sense of morality and what are the effects of the ideas and viewpoints of the early reformers on the American nation, today.
Henry David Thoreau is considered to be the first reformer of this era with his substantial struggle to revolutionize the American society, buried deep into piles of illiteracy due to their conservative thinking. Men and women led by such great reformers strived to develop a community where laws of liberty and equality were equally applicable to everyone. The religious influence, war against alcohol, education for some and many other such strategies were developed to reshape the American society to enable it to live up to the noble goals stated in declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
With the growth in America’s population, the community was facing a threat. According to Alan Brinkley, “most people were excited by the possibilities these changes produced. But they were also painfully aware of the dislocations that accompanied them.” (Brinkley). The rapid increase in American population, compelled American thinkers to try new ideas. One of such ideas was the formation of utopian society. An utopian society is a perfect society. “George Ripley endeavored to create one of the first utopian societies in West Roxberry, Massachusetts. The community was called Brook Farm, and was established in 1841.” (“Utopian Society”) Although the society soon dispersed, yet we see its remaining strains present in the modern American society. It has been tried; to build today’s American society on the basis of natural laws, one of which is the liberation of one’s spirit. It was an important idea developed by the philosophers of that time to reveal man’s internal goodness. The belief that the spirit residing in a person is good and it should be unleashed by the society, together with a desire for order and control built the foundations of modern American society. Thus we can say that the ideas developed in the age of reform enabled the modern American society to provide its citizen, liberation of spirit. These beliefs, which date back to the age of reform, reveal the moral sense of the American citizens.
“The effort to create a distinctively American literature made considerable progress in the 1820s through the work of the first great American novelist, James Fenimore Cooper.” (Brinkley) The first effort to reestablish the personality of an individual with liberation of his internal goodness was made by this great writer, through his work. The idea of this independence of an individual, which was then considered to be in jeopardy, still persists in the modern American society. We can say that today, America views itself with the eyes of the early reformers, with the thinking of their minds and with the inspiration of their souls. The ideas of romanticism, present in the modern American society, are the inventions of those writers who played a part to reform literature in the progressive era. Walt Whitman is considered as one of the important writer of the later group of reformers. His first book of poems, “Leaves of Grass” emphasizes on the ideas of democracy, liberation of an individual’s spirit and the pleasures of flesh. Even the idea of homosexuality, in the modern American society, can be attributed to his experience of living as a homosexual in a society that strictly opposed to the idea of unconventional sexuality.
Thus we can say that the social development of today’s American society can be credited to the early reformers with their views still persisting in it. Today, America’s view, towards itself, depicts the view of those early reformers, towards future. What they thought was essential for a morally and socially developed society is seen in American society, today. Not only the United States’ sense of morality, but also its culture and traditions are based upon the ideas evolved in the age of reform. The modern American society can be considered as an example of the imaginative society, developed by the reformers in the age of reform, even if it has passed through a number of changes after that.
Works cited
Brinkley, Alan. Unfinished Nation, 6th Edition. Cambridge, 2009. Print.
"The formation of Utopian Society". n. d. Web. October 20, 2011 Read More
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