advert 1
advert 2
advert 3
PDF
Wpisany przez mgr Aldona Witkowska   
niedziela, 20 lutego 2011 18:07

"The Gothic as an Aspect of American Romanticism"

In 1820, one of the British critics, Sidney Smith wrote: "Literature the Americans have none."  Words uttered by Smith were really insulting and hurt American's national pride. The overwhelming desire to prove to British and other nations that Americans are able to produce literature led to the American Romanticism arising.

Naturally American writers could not avoid references to European experiences,  particularly British romantic poets and German philosophy. However they succeeded in adapting them to their own cultural circumstances. American response to British Romanticism accelerated in two directions. One of them was Transcendentalism.

The "founding father" of Transcendental movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who expressed admiration for romantic values in his book Nature and essay Self Reliance. Emerson praised five tenets: "intuition is more trustworthy than reason, expressing deeply felt experience is more valuable than elaborating universal principles, the individual is at the centre of life and God is at centre of the individual, nature is an array of physical symbols from which knowledge of the supernatural can be intuited and we should aspire to the Ideal, to changing what is to what ought to be." 

He believed in power of intuition: "the capacity to know things spontaneously and immediately through our emotions rather than through reason and logic."He also expressed the conviction that founding God is possible directly through nature. That faith let him to treat even tragic natural events, like death and disease as something positive. The intense feeling of optimism was the hallmark of his philosophy.

It is not hard to believe that Emerson's Transcendentalism was very popular and highly influential. To his followers and friends belonged Margaret Fuller and David Thoreau. Still Ralph Waldo Emerson had opponents. Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville did not accept his optimistic vision of the world and did not believe in happy future of mankind.

Because of them American Romanticism waited up its more darkly dimension- American Gothic. For the sake of pessimistic nature and strong relationship with Romanticism it was described as Dark Romanticism. Gothic and romantic writing are closely related chronologically and share some themes and characteristics, for example the character of tormented with pangs of conscience man. Most importantly, Gothic as well as Romanticism are considered as definitive shift from neoclassical ideals of logic and reason, toward romantic belief in emotion and imagination. Both are preoccupied with the individual, the human mind and thus with interior mental process. 

However American Gothic constitutes the darker side of Romanticism. Its nature was accurately captive by Leslie Fiedler "American fiction became 'bewilderingly and embarrassingly, a gothic fiction, non-realistic, sadist and melodramatic- a literature of darkness and the grotesque in a land of light and affirmation.'"

American Gothic arose in the world of optimism, in the country filled with vision of freedom and endless happiness. As Eric Savoy rightly noticed, this paradox has its explanation in the history of the United States. It shows the other side of the coin, the nightmare which hides under the "American dream". In the world of American Gothic the ghosts of the past never sleep and constantly haunt the present.

American Gothic writers did not have spooky old castles, monasteries and legends like their European "professional colleagues", but they did have: the frontier, Puritan legacy, slavery and political utopianism. Puritan's heritage was the consciousness of good and evil coexistence, the sense of guilt and fear from the Day of Judgment. Outwardly optimistic character of utopianism, in turn entailed less optimistic consequences, like: undisciplined rule of majority, rule of the mob or the danger of collapse.

Of course American Gothic could not be indifferent to British models, which were the "perpetrators" of gothic fiction great popularity.  It adapted all main conflicts, settings, motifs and narrative situations, like: the feeling of fear and anxiety, the gloomy atmosphere, unexplainable, supernatural events or motif of haunted place. However, Gothic in American writers depiction gained  its own special character, for example they replaced haunted castles, which naturally did not exist in the American landscape, with haunted, old houses. There was also more significant difference. While gothic fiction was focusing on  the aspect of fear and terror, American gothic was placing emphasis on mystery and skepticism toward man's nature.
That skepticism was one of many other significant factors which differentiated Romanticism and Dark Romanticism. G.R. Thompson in Introduction: Romanticism and the Gothic Tradition, in order to visualize this distinction, said as follows: "Fallen man's inability fully to comprehend haunting reminders of another, supernatural realm that yet seemed not to exist, the constant perplexity of inexplicable and vastly metaphysical phenomena, a propensity for seemingly perverse or evil moral choices that had no firm or fixed measure or rule, and a sense of nameless guilt combined with a suspicion the external world was a delusive projection of the mind--these were major elements in the vision of man the Dark Romantics opposed to the mainstream of Romantic thought." 

While Transcendentalists were convinced that perfection is inborn quality of mankind and ignore less praiseworthy nature of human,  Dark Romantics uttered something completely opposite, meaning that human beings were equally capable of evil and good, individual is vulnerable to sin, self-destruction, not so enriched with divinity and wisdom and took it as a duty to remind the world about that fact. American Gothic filled its mission by presenting humans horrible actions, psychological effects of guilt, sin and madness.

In spite of the fact that Dark Romantics and Romantics agree in seeing nature as deeply spiritual force, here also the difference is really distinct. For Dark Romantics, the natural world was dark, decaying and mysterious. As always Transcendentalism saw everything in bright light while Gothicism exactly the opposite- Transcendentalist saw heaven yet Gothic saw hell. Finally, Transcendentalism believed in human goodness  and ability to achieve perfection whereas Dark Romanticism wanted to prove that human will is weak and because of that, in spite of attempts, man will fail in his quest for the better.

Romantic writing expresses the faith in some higher order and existence of  higher answers. Gothic writing instead of giving such answers, leaves the reader with contradictions and paradoxes, forces him to face the moral and emotional ambiguity.

The path to that world of confusion was set by Charles Brockden Brown, a lawyer from Philadelphia, who is regarded as the first professional author in the United States. His novel Wieland in turn is considered as first mayor novel, in which the conventions of British Gothic were adjusted to American conditions.

Brown's novel was inspired by true events. In 1781 deeply religious farmer ritually killed his wife and four children, after hearing religious voices, which commanded him to commit that horrible crime.

Wieland is a story of Theodor Wieland who violently murders his family after hearing what he believes are heavenly voices, which are actually produced by an evil ventriloquist. The next victim was supposed to be  Wieland's sister but fortunately he decides to take his own life rather than beloved Clara.

The novel expresses Browns anxiety about how much people are able to preserve common sense and self-control in the face of new American republic instability. Charles Brockden Brown shows that even self-governing and responsible man can transform in murderous monster.  That kind of monsters, monsters with human faces appear in writings of many gothic writers.

An interesting case makes up the American poet and writer Washington Allston. Allston was mainly known as a talented painter. His literary activity had been ignored and his works disappeared. However, there is no doubt that  while discussing American Romanticism his writings cannot be omitted. Allston gothic romance- Monaldi was ready at 1821, before even famous Edgar Allan Poe started with his gothic tales. Unfortunately Monaldi was not published until 1841, the time in which Poe made the running.

Monaldi includes many features characteristic for Gothic like: power of imagination, day dreaming, human weakness and evil which does not hide under the form of ghost but exists inside man. There is also another significant theme- husband, who kills his wife. The main character of Allston's romance is a painter, who has a beautiful wife but also very jealous childhood friend, who envy him his talent and of course wife. The feeling of jealousy is what destroys Monaldi, who in a fury murderers, as he think, his innocent wife and drives himself to madness.

The character of man, who kills innocent woman also appeared in Allston's brother-in-law and closest friend writings- Richard Henry Dana Sr. Dana was the first American literary critic. He wrote for the North American Review and even planed to be its editor but his candidacy was rejected. Dana did not disincline and in order to gain national audience started to publish under the pseudonym, the Idle Man. 

Richard Henry Dana in his writing was focusing on young romantic heroes, who were inspired by romantic principle to "feel deeply." Their lives were always highly influenced by their imagination. 

At the beginning Dana's fiction was optimistic, expressing the conviction that man can see the spiritual meaning in nature by his imagination. He was proclaiming that man should completely surrender to his imagination in order to encompass the dualism between man and God.

However, at some point Dana turned away from optimistic philosophy of Transcendentalism. The "collision" with full of conflicts, temptations and evil real world unveiled the absurdity of romantic principle to follow the heart. Dana  criticized Transcendentalism by saying: "Emerson and the other Spiritualists, or Supernaturalists, or whatever they are called, or may be pleased to call themselves... [have] madness in their hearts."

The parting with romantic Transcendentalism Dana blatantly announced in his last story published at Idle Man, Paul Felton. Paul is a perfect example of romantic hero, focused on imagination and deep feelings. Unfortunately, his obsession with his own mind precludes finding happiness and leads Paul into destructive egoism. He loses control of his emotions, starts to believe that is demented by Satan, who finally commands him to kill his wife. After Paul realizes what he has done, the shock kills him.

The message is pretty clear- the power of imagination can be pernicious for those, who are unable to leave beyond the transcendental vision and see themselves. For Richard Henry Dana the expressing of this opinion  also turned out to be disastrous. He was abused by critics and after his wife death stopped writing.
Naturally that was not the end of romantic considerations, on the contrary.

The man's relationship to the natural world as well as mysterious, disturbing nature of human life also preoccupied Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of the leading writers of his time. In The Haunted Mind Hawthorne wrote:  "In the depths of every heart there is a tomb and a dungeon, though the lights, the music, and revelry above may cause us to forget their existence, and the buried ones, or prisoners whom they hide. But sometimes, and oftenest at midnight, these dark receptacles are flung wide open. In an hour like his....pray that your grief may slumber."

His novel House of Seven Gables constitutes the part of early American Gothic. It includes many characteristic features like: fascination with location, reference to the supernatural, irrational, horrifying events.

The Pyncheon family is haunted by the death of Colonel Pyncheon, who seems to have died with "marks of fingers on his throat, and the print of a bloody hand on his plaited ruff." Everything points that the original house landlord, Matthew Maule, has returned to kill the Colonel, thereby anathematized the entire family.

The story contains every necessary element: the obsession with the house, family curse , ghost tale. Of course, the ghosts that haunt the Pyncheon family are not supernatural beings brought on by the curse but very human deeds and sins passed down from generation to generation.
Nathaniel Hawthorne liked to explore the theme of sin, penitence and morality.  The best reflection of Hawthorne's interests makes up his most famous novel The Scarlet Letter. The plot is set in 19th century Puritan Massachusetts and presents the story of Hester Prynne, a fallen woman, who gave birth to a child after an affair. It was really controversial theme but Hawthorne was not focused on the affair's course but its effects, like: sin, shame, envy.

The Scarlet Letter became one of America's first mass-published books, thanks to which Hawthorne gained respect among New England's literary establishment. Nathaniel Hawthorne soon after that befriended with Herman Melville.   Melville dedicated him his great Moby Dick.
Hawthorne probably did not know how great honor was that. Herman Melville is a  major American literary figure of the nineteenth century and his novel  is considered a classic of world literature. Melville in Moby Dick presents the story of Ishmael, who after several cruises on the traders decides to go on whale expedition. Along with his new friend Queequeg lands on Pequod ship, which is lead by gloomy and mysterious Captain Ahab. Ahab in the follow-up of fight with whale lost his leg. Soon it turns out that the captain is possessed by mad desire of revenge. He wants to get and destroy his "assassin," the legendary giant sperm whale.

The conclusion of the story, a eventful three-day combat between the white whale and the Pequod's crew is viewed as mans struggle with forces of natural world. Moreover, the whale has been interpreted in various ways: as God, evil, good, and symbol of the ambiguity of nature. The critics opine that Melville's purpose was to capture the psychological terror by using claustrophobic setting and mysterious, unexplainable events. Although  Herman Melville is not qualified as gothic writer, all those facts enforce his connection with gothic literature. 

The discussion about American Gothic should be "crowned"  by the most dark figure of Dark Romanticism- Edgar Allan Poe. Poe was the king of horror tales and the inventor of detective story. He was extremely talented and full of paradoxes. Poe was viewed as drunkard and mentally ill while he successfully edited The Southern Literary Messenger. Unlike his contemporaries Poe was very popular and interested in beauty not morality. 
In terms of style Edgar Allan Poe was the adherent of the short poetry. He believed that there is no such thing like long poem and that the shortness of poem  increases his effectiveness.  The most important components of his poetry were imagination and language, which did not reflect the outside world but created its own reality. The language game that Poe liked to practice was supposed to help him in dealing with fear of death. In the world in which words have the power even the dead man can be alive: "I'm dead" writes Poe, which means "I'm not dead because I'm speaking."

He did not believe in the existence of spirit and used to say that God is also a matter. In his fiction the reader will not find ghosts, vampires or werewolves. Poe as befits Dark Romantic was interested in dark side of human nature, obsessions, fantasies, madness : "The horror in my tales it is not of Germany but of the soul," said Poe. He believed what is the human mind is horrible.

In 1839 Poe published collection, Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, which contained one of his most famous work, The Fall of the House of Usher. The novel was inspired by two factors: Empiricism and Transcendentalism.  

Poe's opposition toward the transcendental believes is obvious here, every element of his novel confirms his convictions, from the main characters Roderick Usher and Madeline Usher, the environment to the eponymous house. Roderick Usher represents central transcendental views: morbid sharpness of senses, connection with the "oversoul." His sister, on the other hand, suffers from "a gradual wasting away of the person, and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical character.”  Poe uses Ushers to prove his point, he shows that there is no brightness and goodness only blackness and evil. In his opinion means too bright, too optimistic and also unrealistic. Edgar Allan Poe mocks the transcendental belief in life and rebirth by leading the characters into decay and death. Poe's destruction of transcendental ideas was completed by the final Fall of the House of Usher. 

Edgar Allan Poe also completed his life but his dark works, as well as works of his "colleagues," still terrify readers. Benjamin Franklin Fisher, professor of English, specialized in Victorian and Gothic subjects wrote: "The growth of gothic novel reflected the development of the enormous Victorian and American novel, which in this period is becoming a serious, ennobled literary genre. Ensued a turn from fear, expressed by victims' vicissitudes and mean actions of their knackers, toward internal anxiety. Emphasis was placed on the motivation instead of horrifying consequences. The ghost in sheet paved the way for, just as in Dickens Christmas Carol, haunted mind, which allowed to scare poor victims with even bigger power."

 

mgr Aldona Witkowska

 

Komentarze 

 
#509 Adela 2017-05-29 03:46
Hi there, all іs going sound here and ofcourse еѵery one
іs sharing information, that's in fact excellent,
keеp up writing.
Cytować
 
 
#508 kopa guldmynt online 2017-05-28 19:59
My coder іs trying to convince me to move to .net fro PHP.
I have ɑlways dislikdd the idea ƅecaսse of the costѕ.
Buut he's tryiong none the less. I've been using WordPress on various websites for about a
үear and amm worried about switching to another pⅼatform.
I ɦave Һearɗ very goоod things about blogengine.net.

Is therе a way I can transfer all my wordpress posts into it?
Any kind οf help would be rewlⅼy appreciatеd!
Cytować
 
 
#507 Lettie 2017-05-28 16:51
I’m not that much oof a οnline rеɑder to be honeest
but youг blogs really nice, keep it up! I'll go ahead and bߋokmak your website to come back down the road.
Mɑnyy thanks
Cytować
 
 
#506 Marcelino 2017-05-28 15:45
You ѕhould be a ρаrt of a contest fоr onee of the
finest bⅼoցs on the web. I will recommend this blog!
Cytować
 
 
#505 zurich guide 2017-05-28 15:30
Yοu made some decent points there. I dіd a ѕearcҺ on the suject and found moѕt guys will approve
with your blog.
Cytować
 
 
#504 Chas 2017-05-28 13:41
Ꭲһis iѕ actually important, Youre a very highly trained blogger.
I have jߋіned witһ yօur feed furthermore anticipatᥱ finding all of yoᥙr wonderful write-upѕ.
Whats more, We have shazred your internet site of our own web pages.
Cytować
 
 
#503 Rosa 2017-05-28 07:28
I ɦave been surfing online more tɦan 3 houгs nowadays, yet Iby
nno means discovered any interesting article like yours.
It'spretty price enough for me.In my opinion, if aⅼll webmaѕters and bloggers made
good content as you did, the net can bе a lot more helpful tnan eve before.
Cytować
 
 
#502 Corrine 2017-05-28 03:53
Nice weblog here! after reading, i decide to buy a sleeping bag ASAP
Cytować
 
 
#501 Elliot 2017-05-25 18:31
There is a few ways you can get the data within film production. As
those who dwell in Chicago know, the Green Mill was an outdated hangout of Al Capone and yes it however has that roaring 20s vibe.
If you wish to eradicate stress, you may use stress management hypnosis scripts
because your mantra.

Also visit my web blog :: Elliot: http://milana-online.ru/communication/forum/index.php?PAGE_NAME=profile_view&UID=18710
Cytować
 
 
#500 cheap online 2017-05-23 00:08
No matter if some one searches for his necessary thing, therefore he/she needs to be
available that in detail, thus that thing is maintained over here.
Cytować
 
 
#499 www.avercast.com 2017-05-22 22:13
Hello! This is kind of off topic but I need some
guidance from an established blog. Is it tough to set up
your own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
I'm thinking about creating my own but I'm not sure where
to begin. Do you have any tips or suggestions? With thanks
Cytować
 
 
#498 www.bhurt.com 2017-05-22 20:17
What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious experience about unexpected
feelings.
Cytować
 
 
#497 massage lyon 2017-05-22 19:09
Une curiosite y meritait l'attention des etrangers: dans ce pays denue de
pierres a batir et meme d'arbres209, et ou il fallait transporter du
dehors les materiaux de construction, Onegese avait fait elever un bain sur le modele des thermes romains.


massage lyon: http://www.elisacavanna.club
Cytować
 
 
#496 military knives 2017-05-22 17:20
Some in the LED flashlights are open at one end this also 's
they could meet the IP standard which is set at 8. Lithium batteries are perfect since they're
light, compact, and small. This is far in the truth, being a criminal
if successful as well as if they fail feel that the very next
time they have got all this determined, and will stop detected another time.



My weblog - military knives: http://youplaisir.com/blog/948793/cosmic-ordering---does-it-work?.html
Cytować
 
 
#495 arhriis 2017-05-21 17:44
You do not need a prescription from the doctor to use the compression sock, however.

Because we use our knees so much, they're at risk of both mild
and severe injuries. Kneease has successfully used to offer pain relief to any or all such
pains.

my page; arhriis: http://Italentos.Com.br/wiki/index.php?title=Where_To_Get_Compression_Socks
Cytować
 
 
#494 www.indigojay.com 2017-05-21 11:06
Excellent post. I used to be checking continuously this blog and I'm impressed!
Extremely useful information specifically the final part :) I
deal with such information much. I used to be looking for this particular info for a long time.
Thanks and good luck.
Cytować
 
 
#493 harrison1966.com 2017-05-21 10:39
I am actually thankful to the owner of this website who has shared this impressive piece of writing at at this place.
Cytować
 
 
#492 www.greygreen.org 2017-05-21 08:53
fantastic submit, very informative. I wonder
why the opposite experts of this sector don't realize
this. You should continue your writing. I am confident, you've a great
readers' base already!
Cytować
 
 
#491 Interona.com 2017-05-21 07:31
Very quickly this web page will be famous amid all blog viewers, due to
it's fastidious content
Cytować
 
 
#490 www.macknair.net 2017-05-20 04:11
Keep on writing, great job!
Cytować
 
 
#489 www.nervline.com 2017-05-20 03:57
I could not refrain from commenting. Well written!
Cytować
 
 
#488 madlson.com 2017-05-20 03:55
I think the admin of this web page is truly working hard for his web page, as
here every data is quality based information.
Cytować
 
 
#487 kersh.com 2017-05-20 03:39
Very good information. Lucky me I came across your site by chance (stumbleupon).
I have saved as a favorite for later!
Cytować
 
 
#486 speakeasypress.com 2017-05-15 14:29
With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My website has a lot of exclusive content I've either authored myself or outsourced but it
looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the
web without my authorization. Do you know any ways to help reduce content from
being ripped off? I'd genuinely appreciate it.
Cytować
 
 
#485 www.shopapb.com 2017-05-15 14:12
It's truly very complex in this active life to listen news on TV, so I
only use the web for that purpose, and get the most recent news.
Cytować
 
 
#484 snapapplephoto.com 2017-05-14 14:59
I absolutely love your blog and find the majority of your post's
to be just what I'm looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content in your case?
I wouldn't mind producing a post or elaborating on a number
of the subjects you write regarding here. Again, awesome website!
Cytować
 
 
#483 www.swissair111.org 2017-05-14 13:22
Very soon this website will be famous among all blogging and site-building visitors, due
to it's nice articles or reviews
Cytować
 
 
#482 prices uk 2017-05-14 11:31
Usually I do not read post on blogs, but I wish to say that this
write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do it!
Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, very great post.
Cytować
 
 
#481 Yvette 2017-05-14 10:27
Generika rezeptfrei gunstig kaufen und generika rezeptfrei deutschland, generika online deutschland und
auch generika ohne rezept kaufen, rezeptfrei in der apotheke.
Original oder generika und generika preiswert, witze kostenlos und auch folders
bestellen, ajanta preis.
Cytować
 
 
#480 pope francis 2017-05-12 21:21
It's fantastic that you are getting ideas from this
article as well as from our discussion made here.

my homepage pope francis: http://adventmessenger.org/free-book/
Cytować
 
 
#479 Paulette 2017-05-11 00:42
Then you can actually go to the Real Estate Investors Club in different towns and counties.
House price inflation inside south of England has now
outpaced north of manchester for the third successive quarter.
With business rates calculated at approximately 40% of estimated
annual rental value the responsibility on landlords might
be considerable.

my page; Paulette: http://s368524453.onlinehome.fr/cpt/modules/profile/userinfo.php?uid=125
Cytować
 
 
#478 www.sallc-net.com 2017-05-10 10:43
Generika online kaufen ohne kreditkarte und generika ohne
rezept bestellen, kann man in der apotheke kaufen und auch online bestellen schweiz, bestellen preisvergleich.

Online auf rechnung und generika esomeprazol, preiswert bestellen und auch kaufen per paypal, co generika.
Cytować
 
 
#477 EON Phone Numbers 2017-05-08 19:32
Overall, it is a service that is going to profit clients in the long term, however is something to concentrate on earlier than calling the Sky contact quantity.
Cytować
 
 
#476 conseguir costa rica 2017-05-08 18:03
Original online kaufen ohne rezept und ohne rezept in holland kaufen,
rezeptfrei gunstig schweiz und auch preise apotheke deutschland, gunstig kaufen osterreich.
Generika kaufen apotheke und generika apotheke, preis schwarzmarkt und auch
preis schweiz, saft kosten.
Cytować
 

Dodaj komentarz


Kod antysapmowy
Odśwież

Co się dzieje?

Dołącz do nas na Facebook'u!


Zebrania Koła
Najbliższe zebranie Koła odbędzie się 15 marca o godzinie 15.00 w sali 104 Biblioteki Uniwersyteckiej.

Ankieta

Jak oceniasz nowy wygląd strony?