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Responding to America: a comparison of literary explorations of self-reliance and individual resilience in 19th and 20th century - Essay Example

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Self-Reliance and Individual Resilience in 19th and 20th Century American Writing American Literature, like any other literature, has always sought to unravel the different spheres of human life, such as social, spiritual, cultural, political and economic…
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Responding to America: a comparison of literary explorations of self-reliance and individual resilience in 19th and 20th century
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"Responding to America: a comparison of literary explorations of self-reliance and individual resilience in 19th and 20th century"

Download file to see previous pages Even though the slavery system had been abolished and the lave trade was put an end to, the African’s who were brought to America were not given equal rights and were racially discriminated. It is not just the African Americans who faced such a discrimination, it was felt much so in the case of the women of the 19th and 20th century America. In the American patriarchal society, women had to conform to the notions of the society they lived in, and were further restrained from doing things they wanted. Despite being a patriarchal society, it was not entirely the case that men had the right to do whatever they desired. The individuals were not allowed to express themselves and were tightly wound by the rules and regulations of the society. Therefore, in such a scenario, various authors and poets tried to liberate individuals from the chains binding them to these meaningless norms of the soceity. One such prominent literary figure is Walt Whitman, known as the “poet of democracy,”3 who through his exceptional works aimed to depict a self-reliant individual in the 19th century American soceity. His poems basically are an epitome of individual resillence, which represent democratic ideals highlighting the egalitarian concept. Furthermore, his works also portray a utopian aspect where elements such as race, community, class and gender do not collide with each other, rather go hand in hand harmoniously. The most significant work of Whitman is his collection of poems named “Leaves of Grass,”4 which was first published in “1855,”5 and contains his worlwide acclaimed porm ‘Song of Myself.’ Although the poet explores a wide array of sujects through his poems such as “slavery, democracy,”6 the different occupations as well as types of work, the Civil War, poverty, “spirituality, and social change”7 etc, his main theme remains bringing to the fore the evils of the society in terms of how it tries to supress the individual self. However, the incrediblility of this poet lies in is his typical use of free verse that makes his poem a “celebration of nature”8 in contrast to the “lifeless rows of numbers and calculations”9 used in terms of meter, rhyme scheme, line structure etc by other poets. It is specifically through the deployment of the free verse that Whitman encourages individuals of his time to rise up against the norms of society and to do things that are right for them. Just as his free verse “rejects the traditional forms of poetry,”10 Whitman wanted that his readers reject the tradional norms and notions upheld by the society and break free of these shackles that they are bound to. His poem thus contained of long list of words that were basically “paratactic sentence structures and syntax-dominated lines”11 with which he intended “to create a poetic voice indicative of freedom, America, and the universe.”12 In terms of the diction used in the poem, it becomes clear that the poet takes insipiration from “every level of written and spoken language available to him”13 that is the speech he hears on the streets the “blab of the pave”14 as well as “the speech of the crafts, the languages of the professions, the vocabularies of science and technology and law and the pulpit.”15 Therefore, the poetic diction utilised in the poem does not contain much frivillous overrated complex words, which is typlical of nineteenth century poems, but ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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