Choose one of the following prompts and create a well-organized and supported essay to explain your
1. Our text tells us that “In general, America’s romantic writers shared several characteristics. They
looked to nature for inspiration, they celebrated individualism, they valued emotion and the
imagination, and they sometimes explored the supernatural in their work.” How do the Fireside poets
use figurative language and poetic devices to communicate these romantic notions? Use specific
examples from the Longfellow’s “The Tide Falls” and “A Psalm of Life”, as well as Lowell’s “The First
Snowfall.” Ultimately, are they successful in communicating the Voice of America for that era? Support
your answer.
2. The three key ideas of Transcendentalism include
*a theory that “transcendent forms” of truth exist beyond reason and experience; every individual is
capable of discovering this truth on his or her own, through intuition
* A conviction that people are inherently good and should follow their own beliefs, however
controversial they may be
*a belief that humankind, nature, and God are all interconnected.
Explore the ways in which Emerson communicates these ideas in his essays “Self-Reliance” and
“Nature”. What specific language and/or imagery does he use to promote these theories? Analyze
Emerson’s philosophy and argue if they it has merit. Support your answer.
3. Our text claims that Hawthorne is the mastery of symbolism. “He often chooses symbols whose
meaning was ambiguous, forcing readers to think deeply about his characters and their conflicts.” The
same comment could be made of Poe. Write an essay explaining the ambiguous symbolism in Poe
and/or Hawthorne’s works and how that symbolism forces the reader to think deeply about the
characters and their conflicts. Use specific examples to support your opinion.
4. Literary Critique Paul Zweig has this to say about Poe’s dark perspective:
Poe’s achievement…was to give literary expression to the dread that haunted America’s dream of
success in the 19th century. If anything was possible in this land of wealth and change, then personal
failure, even simple unhappiness, was obscene, a skeleton in the cellar of democracy.
Nathaniel Hawthorn is also a master of the gothic c genre. Do you think Zweig’s comments about Poe
can apply to Hawthorne as well? Write a response citing evidence from “The Minister’s Black Veil” and
“The Fall of the House of Usher” to prove or disprove Zweig’s comments. Use specific evidence from
these stories.
5. Poe’s idea of the short story is that the reader should come away with one singular emotional effect.
His stories are generally not plot or character driven, but rather driven by this singular effect. How does
Poe successfully fulfill his idea of the short story? Use at least 3 examples from “The Fall of the House of
Usher” to support your answer in terms of characterization, plot, and setting. In other words, how does
he use these elements to create that singular effect?
6. Romantics favored emotion, imagination, and nature. Analyze how Washington Irving expresses these
ideas in “The Devil and Tom Walker.” In addition, discuss how Irving’s expert use of satire combines with
these ideas to comment on man’s capacity for good or evil.