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“Young Goodman
Brown” [1835]
-Central figure in American Renaissance
-High praise in his lifetime and after. His short stories reviewed by
Poe and Melville. Admired by many different reasons.
-His fiction invites multiple readings (studied by poststructuralist,
new literary, feminist…)
-Revolt VS the sentimentalized literary culture of the time.
-His moralizing sketches in domestic topics are no longer popular.
-His dark/troubling short stories are now popular.
-His pure style (aesthetic qualities) won his universal applause.
-Carefully polished prose style.
-His use of grammatically complex and rhetorical subtle mode of
literary discourse.
-He experiments with literary forms and techniques.
*Deliberately used
*Highly conscious.
archaisms to give colonial
*Rigorous verbal economy.
flavour to his work.
*Concentration of effect.
“Young Goodman Brown”
-Original use of allegory (he allegorizes evil)
-Faith is aptly named / Young Master Anybody / Forest -> His own
evil mind.
: -Witchcraft stories (popular among magazine
audiences) especially the witchcraft delusion of 1692.
-New England Puritans (the results of their intolerance).
-Many people in the 17th century believed in spectral evidence.
The devil could only appear in his follower’s bodies.
-Keep in mind when reading that the protagonist does not
represent the 1st generation orthodox Calvinism but 3rd
generation. Confused/ troubled Puritans.
-Brown does not behave like a genuine saint and he didn’t heed
the warning of “presumption”.
-This is about shattered faith.
-Considered his best work but he did not include it in his TwiceTold Collection.
--> He used archaisms to give a colonial flavor.
-Plain style. Sentences not very long. Direct speech -> dynamic.
-Style. Easy to understand. Allegory and symbolism not so easy.
-3 person limited omniscient. Authorial intrusion some times.
-Purity of style. Rhetoric, paradox and archaism.
*Setting: Supernatural dark forest with a path that closes behind
him. Forests are territories of the devil. Anything can happen.
-Plot is circular. Begin and ends with Faith and her pink ribbon.
-Didactic framework of traditional allegory turned against Puritans
*Flat characters: Faith=faith, Goody Cloyse=goodness,
Traveler=evil, Y. G. B.= Every man, Brown) Color of the earth.
-Lack of final closure. Reader must decide dream or not?
: Moral issues (secret sin and
hidden gilt)
He was brought up a Unitarian, but his writings showed
Calvinist concerns.
Most of his writings about colonial history of New
England and its Puritan past (showed an ambivalent
attitude towards the Puritans).
-> He saw them as great, but didn’t like their selfrighteousness and intolerance.
He didn’t like that the Puritans saw sin as part of life but
were intolerant with transgressors.
Puritans separated people into 2 groups: the saved and
the doomed, whereas Hawthorne was interested in the
mix of good and evil in each individual.
-> He claimed such severe introspection caused more
harm than good.
Used Allegory (double meaning that allows the story to
be interpreted on two levels). Similar to the fable or the
parable. Used to convey moral messages.
-He turned the Puritan allegory against them
-He rejected Puritanism
-He can be seen as an allegorist or a master of symbolism
-He adopted the didactic framework of the traditional
--> Dream vision
-Journey into the forest, both physical and psychological.
- unconscious desire
/ to learn about
: Adventure
Has an
evil, finds
it in
his inner self refuses to accept it
: Description
-Hermeneutic gap (pieces
of inforeport.
from the
to create
suspense) -> The final question “was it a
dream” /is an example of it.
: Time of the 1 settlers
Creation of the Virginia Company and 1 English
--> Young Goodman Brown: Protagonist.
establishment @ therd beginning of the 17th century.
Declining religion. 3 generation of Puritans. Very naïve,
: Latin & Greek quotations.
immature, overconfident
and presumptuous.
(Seneca) Uses 3 person narrative.
-Faith: Stability and domestic sphere in Puritan world.
Savages, devils, beastly and
Pure-hearted. Religious :feeling.
threatening. But he is fascinated.
-Old Man/Devil: Appears to be an ordinary man. Devil
could be any man. Can appear in: any
history and rhetoric -> Blends facts and fiction.
Path= evil or good
Serpent staff= The
The Bible-Genesis
Pilgrim’s Progress
Salem Witch Trials
King Philip’s War
Protestant Persecution
Past changes present
Nature is evil
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
“Moby Dick” [1851]
-Melville and Hawthorne were seen in terms of one another. 1
Nowadays they are seen as having 2 different literary styles.
-Melville had exotic settings (sea novels) Hawthorne domestic.
-Melville faded away. Rediscovered in the 20th century.
*Ishmael is a projection of himself. Presbyterian, worried about
innate depravity and original sin (pessimistic).
Diction: Ishmael operates in a lyrical and comic mode. Long
-“Mocha Dick: or the White Whale of the Pacific”
-Read a lot of Shakespeare and yellow novels.
-Confluence in Hawthorne and Melville. Same cultural settings.
*White Whale may represent -> spirit of evil or agent of justice
of heaven to punish Ahab’s defiance of God or the ultimate
mystery of the universe (symbol. Destructive powers).
-Color white stands for nothing. Absence of color.
-Metaphysical valve of Moby Dick is an enigma. Indestructible
and cannot be defeated nor apprehended by any human mind.
and complex sentences, rhetorical questions, full of
allusions and references. Vocabulary ornate to generate a
sense of grandeur and magnitude. Purposes: Elevate the
dignity of the novel. Characterize and differentiate Ishmael
from the rest of the characters. Ahab is more dramatic.
“Moby Dick”
-Loomings -> 1st chapter. Ishmael -> Narrator and only survivor.
-Two passages from chapter 2 introduce Captain Ahab.
-Ch 36. Captain Ahab nails a gold coin to the mast for the first
sailor to sight Moby Dick. Makes them swear to help him kill it.
Closure in Moby Dick
-2 macro questions: “Will Ahab and his crew ever find the White
Whale?” and “If they do, will they be able to kill it?”
-Pequod encounters ships that know the whereabouts of the
Whale. It keeps the reader bound to the story.
- Outcome of the deadly confrontation. 1 survivor. Novel over.
-Added chapter about the grand opening of Ishmael’s dry goods
store in New London would be inappropriate.
-Not encouraged to ask about Ishmael as he is not part of the
hunt of the White Whale.
Quotes and allusions -Lots of Greek and Roman references.
-Ishmael: Son of Abraham. Outcast, exile, no experience.
-Cato: Shakespearian character that commits suicide.
-Seneca and the Stoics: Roman thinker. Stoics said humans
should be free from passions and calmly accept divine will.
-Narcissus. Greek mythology, falls in love w/ himself.
-Fates controlled by the gods.
-Pythagorean Maxim.
-Greek God Jove
-Cellini: Perseus
-Gabriel: from the New Testament.
Breakdown: Melville was difficult for some to read
because of his extravagances, neologism and recondite
-Melville didn’t like allegories. He considered them and
inferior way of writing. He created the end of all allegories.
We never know if the whale is evil or an agent from Heaven
to punish Ahab or the ultimate mystery of the universe.
*His allegories are complex and ambiguous.
*Ishmael asks questions. Never finds answers. Just Qs.
*Every sign he sees leads to another one.
-Melville warns us NOT to read it as an allegory.
-The Whale’s value is enigmatic. Therefore superior.
-Mostly 1st person. Retrospective, he tells us about his past.
*1st excerpt=Ishmael 1st person narrator. Prevalent mode of
his chapter is the comment. He explains why he embarked.
*Other 2 excerpts. Ishmael as an omniscient narrator. Ahab
is described. Ishmael reports a series of events. Most
important things are the things that happen, not the
thoughts or reflections of Ishmael.
-Reliable narrator. He tells us what he sees, we believe him.
-Presbyterian. He had discovered Transcendentalism and
was skeptical about the dark side of humanity.
Themes --> The darker side of human nature.
-Limits of human knowledge
-How past changes present (the whale took off his leg, it all
changed – desire for revenge)
Calvinist religion -> free will, damnation and predestination.
-Good VS Evil. Nature is dangerous.
symbols--> Pequod and its polyglot
Foreshadowing--> Ishmael tells us
Characterization of Ahab--> He is
crew=ship of the world.
-The mean on the sea= sea of
unpredictability (anything can happen)
-Light (whale)/dark (sea).
-Coffin-> Life (as a lifeboat) and death.
-Moby Dick-> Human’s inability to
understand the World.
that water has magical powers.
-Fates have drawn him to this trip.
-He sets out on a “forbidden” sea.
-Captain Ahab surrounded by mystery.
-Owner of the Inn -> Peter Coffin.
-Talks of Cato’s suicide.
presented as an old sailor. Grey hair,
robust and heavy. One of his less cut off
by Moby Dick.
-His major wish is to kill the whale not
only for cutting off his leg. He also sees is
as the embodiment of evil.
“A Psalm of
Life” [1838]
-One of the Fireside poets.
-Read by ordinary people. Very popular in his time.
-Lost popularity. His “sentimental masculinity” (sailing and
fighting in wars) is looked down on now (after 1920).
-Meter and rhyme (now people prefer unrhymed verse)
“A Psalm of Life” What the heart of the Young Man said to the Psalmist
-His best known short poem. People were still unstable after the
Panic of 1837. Its triumphant tone was invigorating and shooting
-Tone of heroic confidence.
-Domestic style of masculinity later considered effeminate. He
tried to counter this with references to war and sailing activities.
-Shipwrecked brother. We are all together=brotherhood
-Used a condescending tone towards his audience
-His imagery has proved faulty (cows don’t go into Battle) can’t
leave footprints in sand in an hour glass (must be on a beach).
-When published it was a great success
He saw himself as a moral guide. He used didactic
moralizing and was concerned w/ cultural and moral values.
-Wrote about conventional topics in an easy manner.
-Wanted people to see that life was more than material things.
-He disliked controversy and extremes. No political of theological
debates (he was an abolitionist, though)
-Sensory imagery so readers could “SEE” what he described.
: 4 line stanzas=quatrain. Rhyming quatrains:
ABAB, CDCD, EFEF for each of the nine stanzas.
-8 syllable line followed by a seven syllable line. Trochaic
tetrameter (4trochaic feet w/ 4trochees)
-Ideas of Jorge Manrique, Calderón de la Barca and Goethe.
-Quotes from the Bible.
-Check Nacho’s notes on the poem.
–Primary message: Life is beautiful.
-First person perspective. Tone is neither positive nor
negative, strictly honest.
-Careful choice of words. Each has its own meaning and
adds something important to the “life” of the poem.
-Imagery is the sole method of expression in the poem.
-Figurative language. Lots of metaphors and symbolism.
-Punctuation very important. Exclamation to emphasize.
-Fireside poet. Writings could be read by families.
-Purpose of life and significance of death is a heroic and confident tone and informal diction.
-Uses funeral imagery: mournful, empty, dead, grave, sorrow, end, fleeting, funeral, battle, dumb, sublime, departing, leave behind,
solemn and fate. “Muffled drums are beating funeral marches to the graves”.
-Material life is finite.
-Interested in living, NOT dying. Living= doing/creating. We should not conform to mournful passivity.
-Optimism/joy/faith/our lives on earth have meaning
-Inner world of human nature. Now ridiculed and parodied for his FAULTY IMAGERY.
-Cattle not to partake in battles. Battles not fought on bivouacs.
-Sands of time -> Footprints in the sand do NOT show immortality (get washed away).
-The central Transcendental concepts in “A Psalm of life” are basically nonconformity and Carpe Diem.
-Longfellow rejects the nation that life is an “empty dream” to be endured or wasted until death and expresses that people should
appreciate their life on earth as precious and deal and act to make a spiritual, moral or intellectual mark on the world.
“The masque
cd of the Red Death” [1842]
“The Raven” [1844]
-Powerful, disturbing and original.
-Aesthetics over ethics. Create beauty, not teach morality.
Condemned the heresy of didacticism. Art for art’s sake.
-Extravagant and eccentric subject matter.
- He influenced the French symbolist movement.
-New techniques, innovations, invented modern detective story
and hailed as inventor of science fiction.
-Was called drug addict and alcoholic who wrote weird stories
after he died. Now consider a tortured genius rooted in suffering
-Wrote w/ precision and revised constantly.
-Wanted his work to be judged on aesthetic criteria.
-Used close analysis (similar to New Criticism)
-He classified his own work as grotesque and arabesque.
-His works are very diverse but considered Gothic (fantasy,
irrational, supernatural).
-Poe was concerned with Gothic/Supernatural/Death.
-Wanted to produce Art for Art’s sake. Condemned didacticism
(he didn’t want to teach).
-Objected to Allegory (despised it). “The Masque of the Red
Death” can be seen as a parody of allegorical writings.
-He said poetry must be brief so as not to lose unity of effect.
“The Raven”
-It caused quite a stir. Poe claimed that it had been done step by
step with mathematical precision (was probably being ironic)
-The Philosophy of Composition: He liked brevity. Death of a
woman was the most poetical topic of the world.
-No direct reference to a woman but it shows the impact of the
death of three women in his life. His mother, the mother of a
friend and his foster mother.
-Same stanza from E.B. Browning “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship”
-Setting: Normal house. Mysterious tapping on the door. Reflects
the feelings of the character.
-Time: Last hour or last month of the year. Death and decay.
-5 long lines of alternating octameters (8 feet) and heptameters
(7 feet) 16/15 syllables and a tetrameter (4feet/7syllables)
-Octameters are rare in classical verse.
-Rhyme scheme ABCBBB.
-Uses trochees (not iambs)
*Sound devices used: alliteration (weak/weary), assonance
(repetition of vowel sounds) and internal rhyme (it occurs within
the same line). Onomatopoeia (tapping and rapping).
-1st person singular.
-Binary: Light (Lenore)/darkness (Raven)
-Psychological, emotional, spiritual paralysis and despair.
-Cyclical united through the words: Nothing more/ever more and
-Careful diction. Uses foreign words and spelling.
“The masque of the Red Death”
-Poe was probably thinking about “Black Death” when he
wrote it. Blood and death. (Obsession w/ wife’s illness)
-Cholera epidemic, wife’s burst vessel, Banquo’s ghost in
Macbeth… all sources.
-Multifold significance, not just a horror story.
Relationship of art and nature.
-Prince Prospero represents his ideal artist-hero. He is
arrogant in thinking that he can avoid death so he is
punished. Not Shakespeare’s Prostero who controls the
situation through magic.
-It represents allegorically and literally DEATH.
-Binary concepts: life/death, light/dark, health/illness.
-Setting-> Removed from the real world.
-Personification-> Clock with its brazen lungs.
-Omniscient 3rd person -> Authorial narrative voice.
-He wants to control the natural cycle of life w/ his
imaginary powers by creating an artificial setting.
-The 7 rooms=7 stages of life from east to west.
-The colors: blue (birth, unknown), purple (blue+red.
Birth+blood), green (spring and yough), orange (summer
and autumn of life), white (age, white hair), violet (death
is near), black (death).
-Fit in death as a motif, not as a reality.
-Settings reflect inner personality of the character
-Death in luxurious settings makes it appear even worse.
-Lots of descriptions. Palace, rooms, colors, windows…
-Ebony clock caused silence and seriousness. Reminder of
mortality and the passing of time.
-Almost no direct speech. The prince asks “who dares?”
*Noise of clock (paralyzes partyers)
*Entrance of masked man.
Unity of effect:
-Title already gives us hints about the story
-Scenery is grotesque and arabesque
-Clock -> Fear and tension. Contrasts with the party
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
“The narrative
of the Life of Frederick Douglass,
an American Slave written by himself” [1845]
Genre: Slave narrative, autobiography.
Text: It became popular and encouraged other fugitives to
“The narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American
Slave written by himself”
publish their own narratives. Unlike Olaudah Equiano he was
born a slave. His father was a white man, his mother a slave.
Work: Embellished style. Many prefer the original versions.
-Rhetorical figures-> metaphor, irony, synecdoche… Chiasmus
his fav. “You have seen how a man was made slave, you shall see
how a slave was made a man”.
-Speak and write as visible sign of his manhood or humanity.
-Racist charges of black inferiority and public pressure.
-Oratorical rules and conventions in his lectures.
-Atypical experience of slavery. Was given more opportunities.
Symbolism, allegory, imagery
Narratives: Avoided some of the conventional features. Didn’t
-White sails symbolize freedom, forbidden for blacks.
-Female suffering
-City (chance to learn) VS country (cruelty).
include the typical climax. He refused to indulge his white
audience in a servile way.
Author’s Monologues: Form-> Short sentences, numerous
questions and exclamations, use of apostrophe and antithesis.
*Content-> Development of thoughts, emotions, changes in tone
-Human/subhuman discourse in his arguments and its imagery.
Narrator: 1st person singular to make readers empathize w/ him
Influence: Romantic. Heroic fugitive. Heroic loner.
Elements of Romance:
*Slave = hero
*Fight against Covey = Triumphant romantic hero
*Mysterious settings = Adds drama and adventure.
*Unexpected plot twists = Adds drama and adventure
*Scenes of horror and violence = serves the popular appetite for
*Overcoming hardships = Climax is NOT his escape.
*Happy ending = He is now an educated free man through his
own efforts.
-Slavery: Compares slaves to animals. Dehumanized.
-Education: Self-improvement incredibly important.
-Suffering: Learns to overcome it.
-Wisdom of America: Vision of slavery in the country.
-Religion: Abolitionists were faithful Christians. He has
harsh criticism for “Christian” slave owners.
-Truth: Wanted to probe that what he told was true.
-Reserved and emotional. Angry about slavery.
Writing Style
-Dilemma between being convincing and demonstrate
that he was an intellectual person. Tries to write in a
plain straightforward style and uses elevated style.
-Characterization: Direct-> We are told directly and
explicitly about the character’s personalities.
Harriet beecher stowe (1811-1896)
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin” [1852]
-Great social impact. She was an active abolitionist who wanted
to change the course of events by affecting public’s opinion.
-Woman. Wrote “sentimental” sub-literature
-Uncle Tom=derogatory term to refer to blacks.
-Tom is praised, intelligent, sensible, peaceful, forgiving, stoic…
*Has integrity, dignity and strength of character
*He is victimized under the whip for helping escape some slaves.
*Christ-like figure. Tom is the real hero.
-Careful in her writing. Slave’s perspectives.
-Principal theme is: EVIL. Many levels: moral, political…
Tom’s Cabin”
-Eliza’s son Harry and Tom get separated. After Tom’s death Eliza
and Harry are reunited in Canada.
-When Lincoln met Stowe said: “So you are the little lady that
wrote the book that has started this great war”.
-She didn’t see black as inferior. Blacks were more docile,
childlike, simple and affectionate.
-3rd person omniscient narrator
-Excellent for idioms/dialect/black vernacular.
-Puritan background, treats evil->slavery->sin. Moral duty to
write and speak out against slavery.
Compares treatment of slaves to those of animals
-Slaves come to market fed and cleaned, sleek and shiny.
-They are kept merry so they have no time for reflection.
-Buyers examine and comment on them
-Pushed and pulled, told to jump, to show their muscles.
-Men at the auction talk about how they get rid of “nigger airs”.
-Quotes from the Bible.
-Susan and Emmeline sing a song to Mary.
-Susan reminds her daughter that no matter what, she should be
faithful to the Lord.
-Slaves’ faith in God helps them to go on.
-Sees civil laws in conflict. Wants to justify civil disobedience.
-Slavery is destroying society.
-Simon Legree is evil, not a good Christian.
-Tom is tortured and killed -> Christ. Martyr.
-She doesn’t use lots of figurative language but uses parallelism,
allusions and quotes.
*Sexual abuse by whites on black women: Susan
remembers how the white trader had looked her daughter.
-Feared for Emmeline being sold to a life of shame
-She wishes she wasn’t so attractive. She has curls.
-The man before the sale touched her bust. Slaves have no
-Character description is direct.
-St. Clare slaves to be sold. Tom, Adolph, Susan, Emmeline.
-Evil character: Simon Legree. Stiff hair, coarse mouth, dirty,
spitting tobacco juice…
Literary strategies
-Wrote a key to justify the attacks that her writings produced.
-Veracity (asked for info from Douglass)
-Characters defined by the color of their skin.
-Characters are revealed by their speech.
*Mr. Skeggs (loving kindness, speech lively and pleasant),
Sambo (black, happy and carefree), Adolph (speaks like a
white), Emmeline and Susan (soft spoken, speak like whites,
speak of the Bible), Mr. Legree (quick, mean harsh…)
Irony in her work
*Slaves inclined to pine and forced to be merry.
*Susan and Emmeline were sold for trading in slaves was
“rather too much money to be lost on principle”.
*Calls traders connoissereurs. Auctioneers brilliant and
talented men.
*Benevolent man tries to bid on Emmeline and loses.
How she deals with families
*Wants whites to see that blacks have feelings. Same as
*Wants readers to identify with these families.
“Song of myself” [1881]
-His poetry marked a turning point in American Literature.
-Most famous work “Leaves of grass”. Slender volumes of 12
poems started in 1855. Total of 389 poems after 37 years writing
-Wrote w/ vividness, originality and power. Lacked structure.
-Free verse.
-His poetry didn’t fit in with his time. Seemed vulgar compared
to the Fireside Poets.
-Used alliteration, assonance, repetition of words/phrases.
-Saw himself as the bard of the nation. Spoke as and for the
people but he wasn’t so popular in his lifetime.
*Appeared vulgar, lack of structure, not family reading. He was
provocative and controversial.
*Didn’t follow any conventional rules of poetry. He was intense
and passionate. Influenced by Transcendentalists. Long and
complex poems.
*Set rhythm but no rhyme. Verses are fluid. Natural speech
patterns of American vernacular.
*Free verse. Untraditional topics (prostitution, homosexuality),
used metaphors for sexual organs.
*American speech, slang, colloquial expressions.
*Bard of the common American.
*Wrote about Nature-> Democracy and friendship, life, sex,
death, antislavery…
*Inspiration in everyday life, working class people, marginalized
*Saw humans and their creations (cities and buildings).
-States what he’s going to do in the
poem. Celebrate himself (all humanity)
-Ground rules. We believe whatever he
believes and we take on whatever roles
the speaker takes on.
-Offers the atoms of his body.
-His soul another character. Speaker
and soul, 2 slightly different things.
-Describes the air as perfume.
-Wants to get naked and go to the
riverbank. He is in love w/ the air.
-Grass. Green is the color of hope.
-It’s God’s handkerchief or the child of
all the other plants or a hieroglyphic.
-The grass grows. People buried. He
decides that they don’t fully disappear
bc we belong to the same web of life.
“Song of myself”
-Word order. Frequent use of ellipsis and anaphoric
frame of reference.
-Antithesis of Longfellow’s.
-Speaker divides his personality into at least three parts:
1) “I” – Involves itself in everyday stuff like politics,
fashion and what he is going to eat.
2) “Me, Myself” – Stands apart from the “I” and
observers the word with an amused smile.
3) The “Soul” that represents his deepest and most
universal essence.
-A child asks him what the grass is. He doesn’t have an
answer, which gets him thinking about all kinds of things,
especially about people buried in the earth who came
before him.
-He believes in:
*Everyone is equal including slaves
*Truth is everywhere but unspeakable.
*Invisible connection and understanding exist between
all people and things.
*Death is a fortunate thing, not something to fear.
-He is opposed to:
*People who think they preach the truth.
*Feelings of guilt and shame about the body.
*Self-righteous judgments.
-Have faith in the order of nature.
-Describes people according to their
vocation. Particular role in society.
-Optimistic attitude. He is not naïve, tho.
-Limb amputated, it drops in a pail.
-Beautiful memorable explanations of
the roles people play.
-He only judges the judgers.
-Claims to be like all those people.
-He’s the union of opposites: Old/young,
foolish/wise, south/north, mother/father
-He is aware of the fault lines of the
cultural battle. Danger of civil war.
-Nature is fine the way it is.
-His words, the grass he walks, the air he
breathes are ours too.
-Grass=Leaves/pages of the poem.
-Present fades away. What’s next?
-One of his most famous poems/lines.
-He embraces contradiction.
-He sees a hawk and feels humbled.
-The ending day=metaphor for death.
-His hair is white, he dissolves into the
air. Very powerful imagery. To find him
we have to look at the ground under
our boots. He gives good health to
those who walk over him.
-Ends the poem: we shouldn’t be
discouraged if we can’t find him.
-Identity, visions of America, friendship
(and democracy), spirituality (body and
soul), nature.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
Several Works:
“This is my letter to the world” “Safe in their Alabaster chambers”
“I taste acdliquor never browed” “I felt a Funeral in my Brain”
“I heard a Fly buzz – when I died” “My Life had stood – a loaded Gun”
-Compared w/ W.W. 1 rank of 19 century poets. Original and
innovative style anticipated the modernist movement.
-Refused to become a Christian. Listened to sermons and studied
the Bible but felt spiritual apathy.
-Poems short and compact. Extraordinary sharpness.
-Compressed language response to the Civil War period and the
Golden Age that followed.
Themes: Nature, death, immortality. In her poems: Alliteration,
assonance and consonance, simile, metaphor and analogy.
-Multifaceted sensibility. Beautifully suggestive Language.
-Parataxis: Placing related phrases in a series w/o the use of
connecting words.
-Capitalization: 18th century. Common to use capital letters for
the initials of nouns. She capitalized various words.
-Elliptical style: It leaves room for endless speculation about
meanings and intentions.
“This is my letter to the world” 1863
-Presented as introduction to all of her work.
-Traditional hymn meter. Quatrains of alternating iambic
tetrameter and iambic trimester lines. Stanzas in 4 lines in
alternate lines of 8 syllables (4 metrical feet) and 6 syllables (3
metrical feet). Occasionally she changed the meter.
-Symbolism: Letter->Her own isolation to the world.
-Personification: Nature told with tender majesty. Her message
is commited to hands I cannot see.
-Emily is trying to say she is secluded and the world doesn’t
reach out to her. She doesn’t want to be judged harshly for
separating herself from the world, she just wants to belong.
“I felt a Funeral in my Brain”
-Death of consciousness <- depression
-Semantic oddness. Figurative level.
-Extended metaphor (funeral). Mental
process. Mourners are a metaphor.
-Sequence of mental events. When
she wrote the poem she was in perfect
control of her mind.
-Last 2 lines: Alienation and inability to
communicate. Speaker’s descent into
-Poem doesn’t finish. “Then” last
word. Nightmare – horror of madness.
-Lines 6,9,12,14,15 auditory imagery.
“Safe in their Alabaster chambers” 1859
-Epistolary exchange between the writer and her sis-in-law.
-Susan praised the first stanza and advised her to treat it as
a complete poem.
-To Susan’s criticism of the second stanza, the poet
responded with an entirely new only. Then she wrote two
more versions. There are 5 manuscripts of the poem.
-Marked contrast between the somnolence of the ideas and
the vitality of the birds and bees. Later versions emphasized
how the universe remains in never ending motion while the
dead are motionless in their graves.
-The opening unvoiced “S” strikes again in “sleep”, “satin”
and “stone”.
-Check Nacho’s notes on the 2 versions of the poem.
“I taste a liquor never browed” 1861
-It was first published anonymously. Titled: The May-Wine.
-Innocent mature poem about the intoxicating joy she
experiences when she’s overwhelmed by the beauty of the
spring scenery. Air compared to liquor. Bird drinking nectar.
-Nature as a source of delight.
-Literary sources can be found in Emerson.
-She wittily plays with the language of alcohol and
inebriation to create an extended metaphor with humor.
-Quatrains, iambic tetrameter and trimester. Rhymes of
various styles.
-Drunk on air=nature. She’ll be drunk forever. Image
drinking at an inn.
“I heard a Fly buzz – when I died”
My Life had stood – a loaded Gun”
–Experience of death by capturing the
last thoughts of the speaker
surrounded by mourners.
-Imagery emphasizes connection of the
senses. Links sound and color.
-Vision fails. Imagery and buzzing fly
has been traced to Elizabeth
Browning’s Aurora Leigh.
-Tone: Calm, even flat, her narrative is
concise and factual.
-Iambic tetrameter/iambic
trimester/pauses -> dashes.
-One of her most discussed poems.
-Feminist interpretations. Female creation
is perceived as a form of aggression.
-Gun: Symbolizes the power and violence
-Lines 1,6,17,23: The gun becomes and
extended metaphor throughout the poem
as it becomes representative of the
speaker’s power.
-Themes: violence, power, gender,
-Extended metaphor. The speaker is
closely connected to the gun and it
eventually becomes the loaded gun.
Mark Twain
“The Adventures or Huckleberry Finn” [1884]
1st person -> 13 year old unreliable narrator. Provides humor.
Innocent eye perspective. Everything is filtered through him. He
is naïve and ignorant.
-From the very beginning a comic tone is set. There is
seriousness below the surface. There is also irony.
-When Huck expresses himself as a narrator he uses American
English. When he quotes his own direct speech he uses his
vernacular language. Ordinary “Pike County”.
-Jim uses another dialect. Missouri Negro.
-He wrote it as is would be spoken. Twain read it aloud to see if
it was accurate. Huck is the illiterate son of the town drunkard.
-Breaks grammar rules:
*Wrong subjects verbs agreement *Double negatives
*Analogous use of irregular past tenses *Ain’t/Waren’t.
-Lots of talk of death. Many references to death.
-Religion: We can see cynicism and mockery. Huck’s
encounters with Miss Watson and the Widow Douglas,
Twain satirizes the religion sensibility of the day.
*Huck finds the widow’s story of Moses boring and
unrelated to everyday life.
*Twain satirizes the pious Christians who professed
kindness and civility but bought and sold slaves.
*Huck bases his decisions on his experiences, his own
sense of logic. He doesn’t worry about going to hell.
*Twain criticizes the overly emotional people of the
revival meetings and the hypocrisy of the Christian
-Superstition and folktales.
*Jim initially appears foolish to believe so unwaveringly in these kinds of signs and omens, it turns out, curiously, that many of his
beliefs do indeed have some basis in reality or presage events to come.
-> Huck at first dismisses most of Jim’s superstitions as silly but later he comes to appreciate Jim’s deep knowledge of the world.
-> Huck killing a spider which is bad luck (countered this by turning in his tracks three times) then tied a lock of his hair with a
thread to keep the witches away.
-> Rattlesnake skin Huck touches that brings Huck and Jim good and bad luck.
-> Jim tries to interpret the dream that Huck says he had. (It wasn’t a dream, it was real)
-The River
*The journey down the river will be an escape from the hypocrisy of society’s corrupt institutions and a search for freedom from
that society for both, Huck and Jim.
-Humor and Irony
*Irony when Huck talks about Tom’s band of robbers and says something about being respectable.
*Widow Douglass tells Huck Finn not to smoke when she took snuff too, which is similar or even worse.
*Humor -> Huck pretends that everything that happened during the night of the fog had been just a dream. Jim was confused. At
first believed him and tried to interpret the dream.
*Picaresque -> Is a type of novel that deals with the adventures of a rascal (Huck Finn in this case)
It is a term commonly used to describe this book.
-It involves the combination of various elements.
-The hero of the book (known as the Picaro) is a realist and someone who adapts easily to new situations.
-Other characters often represent a combination of wildness and civility.
-River, nature, storm, animals (pigs and dogs mostly)
-Huck comes from a non perfect family. (Father a drunk).
Henry James (1843-1916)
“Daisy Miller: A Study” [1878]
-One of America’s greatest novelist. Also a major British writer.
-Wrote: Novels, plays, biographies, memoirs, travel sketches,
essays and reviews.
-Intricate style and elaborate syntax (long sentences).
-Dense and subtle, various shades of meaning, precise choice of
words and well proportioned architecture.
-Wrote about upper class (mental state of cultivated people)
“Daisy Miller”
*It made him very popular
*Written about an anecdote told him by a friend. Heroine
partially inspired by his cousin Minny Temple, who died at 24.
*James called it a nouvelle. Modern critics call it novella.
*Divided into 4 chapters of equal length -> Two set in
Switzerland in the winter and two in the summer in Italy.
*Daisy ignores class structure and conventional codes of
behavior. Gives Winterbourne the impression she is a beautiful
flirt. She dies after catching malaria from walking with Giovanelli
in the Colisseum at night.
-> In the end he assures Winterbourne that she was innocent.
*3rd person/intrusive presence (giving opinions) very
*We only know about Daisy what Winterbourne tells us.
Her character remains ambiguous.
*Ironical and sophisticated.
*Limited omniscient narration, told through consciousness
of a single character whose thoughts and feelings are
known by the narrator. All other characters only known
from the outside.
*James was a master of form. Wanted perfection in his
writing (same as was achieved in poetry all measured).
*Lots of exact description. (Physically and more)
*Daisy-> Fresh and young. (Like the flower)
*Winterbourne -> Old-ish and cold. (Two serious for his age)
*Eugenio de Manservant -> Name means well born/noble.
Acts like he owns the world.
*In general the characters are well spoken. (Exception of
Randolph Miller who uses the expression “blazes” -> Shows
him as the bumpkin that he is)
*Unconventional behavior of non-conforming American (how Americans behave abroad)*Sophisticated European society VS unconventional American behavior.
*Unlived lives. How lives would have been different under different circumstances.
*Concerned with “international theme”, drew from his travel experiences.
“Désirée’s Baby” [1892]
-She was praised for her aesthetic achievement. She was
immediately condemned on moral grounds for writing a story
about the artistic and sexual awakening of a young woman
dissatisfied with her conventional role as wife and mother.
-Her Louisan stories accurately depicted the everyday life of
ordinary people in an area that seemed particularly exotic to the
rest of America.
-She was concerned with psychological realism.
-In her stories, Chopin’s heroines were gradually becoming less
submissive and more independent. From the beginning of her
career she had presented female characters forced to endure
oppressive to unattractive men.
“Désirée’s Baby”
*Main themes: Marriage and motherhood are explored here
through a submissive female protagonist who is far from being
like the emancipated heroines that people in Chopin’s later
fiction. Miscegenation.
->Désirée: Her depiction can be interpreted as an indictment of
the patriarchal system so abhorred by the writer.
*Simple language and precise vocabulary.
*Mood: Lazy in the first half of the story (static verbs: lying,
stood, sat) and (adverbs) that anchor the actions in a long space
of time (slowly, narrowly, searchingly). ->Also words used to
disrupt the peaceful atmosphere.
*Contrast: Good/Evil, happiness/sadness, black/white, light/dark
(one term depreciates the other).
-Désirée is always linked to light and whiteness while Armand is
associated with darkness and blackness. She is nameless
whereas Armand bears one of the “oldest and proudest” names
in Louisiana. ->She uses some fairytale conventions which are
incompatible with the typical features of a realist piece of fiction.
->In Chopin’s fiction, female dependence on male characters
generally leads to the heroine’s self destructive behavior.
-> Armand Aubigny: The stereotypical cruel slave owner in
former antislavery fiction like Simon Legree. Most characters in
Chopin’s fiction treat their wives as if they were possessions or
commodities although not all women submissively see
themselves as their husband’s property.
*Local – color elements include picturesque landscape,
vernacular speech and the singular manners that characterize a
particular region.
*This story illustrates the problems of miscegenation, a taboo
subject tht local colorist were loath to treat.
-Désirée’s “obscure origin”: Her ancestry included a black
-“Something in the air”: Désirée detects a change for the
worse in the atmosphere at L’Abri when her child is three
months old, although she cannot explain what she feels.
-Irony: It occurs most notably at the end, when Armand
discovers that it is the who is of mixed racial ancestry.
-Metaphor: Comparison of the atmosphere in Désirée’s
room to a mist and comparison of her voice to a knife.
-Simile: Comparison of the bed to a throne, of blood to
ice, of Désirée to a statue.
-Pillar in front of the Valmondé Home -> Strength and
-L’Abri -> Armand’s dark moods.
-Bonfire -> Destruction of her memory and the baby.
October sunset -> Ending of her marriage to Armand.
*Désirée’s baby is a short story centering on human
relationships in the southern US before the Civil War.
-The action takes place in the United States in the midth
19 century on two Louisiana plantations, one called
Valmondé, a family name, and the other called L’Abri.
-Désirée’s: Young woman described as beautiful and
gentle, affectionate and sincere. Abandoned in front of a
plantation home when she was a child. Adopted.
-Armand Aubigny: Inherited his father’s plantation.
Married Désirée and they lived at L’Abri.
-The Baby: Their boy. Person of a mixed racial ancestry.
-Monsieur and Madame Valmondé: Childless couple who
found her, adopted her and raised her.
-La Blanche: Female slave of mixed ancestry.
-Zandrine: Female slave who helps her care for her child.
-Negrillon: Male slave. Pretends to have suffered a leg
burn to be excused from work.
-Deceased parents or Armand. Lived in Paris until his
mom died. He was 8 y/o.
-The Baby is represented in omniscient 3rd person.
“The Open Boat” [1897]
Brief career, he died at the age of 28.
“The Open Boat”
-It’s one of his main contributions to the American literary
canon, which exemplifies the author’s nature art.
-When he wrote it, he had already published newspapers reports
of shipwrecks whose imagery clearly prefigures that of his
famous short story.
-His principal source was his own experience of being drift in the
ocean: After sinking of the steamer, Stephen Crane
(correspondent) Edward Murphy (the Captain) Charles
Montgomery (Steward) and William Higgins (oiler) remained for
27 hours rowing and drifting.
*The short story opens with four men, stranded in the ocean in a
small boat and limits itself to their ordeal for there is not a single
reference to any of the circumstances leading to the sinking to
Cuba or to the filibustering expedition.
*Unlike the newspaper report, which is written in 1st person, The
Open Boat is written from the 3rd person point of view, although
the narrator concentrates on the correspondent’s consciousness
and expresses a privileged knowledge of his thoughts and
*The other three characters reveal themselves through their
words and actions.
of work: Short story
: Takes place between January 2nd and January 4th 1897
off the eastern coast of Florida, near Mosquito Inlet (now known
as the Ponce de León Inlet) about twelve miles south of the
present-day Daytona Beach.
: Centers on four men in a lifeboat who had
abandoned a sinking steamship off the coast of Florida. They are
attempting to reach shore against an ocean that becomes
increasingly violent whenever they row toward land.
: 3 person through a narrator who occasionally
reveals the thoughts of the men in the boat.
Impressionism: Aesthetic movement. Attempt to accurately and
objectively record visual reality. Effects of light and color.
Proto-existentialist -> Fiction. Focuses on the nature of humans
in the universe. Realism predominates in the story.
-Captain-> Levelheaded, trustworthy commander of the
55 Commodore, the ship that sank. He is a rudder who
guides and heartens the other men in the boat.
-Correspondent-> A newspaper reporter who shares
rowing duties with the steamer’s oiler. He represents the
author, who was a survivor
-The oiler-> Reliable, hard-working, crewman who
performs his duties without complain. Dies.
-The cook-> Rotund crewman who bails water from the
lifeboat. Modeled after the real-life Commodore
steward, Charles B. Montgomery.
-People on the beach.
*Life as a struggle against nature’s Indifference
*Metaphor (Comparison of the boat to a colt)
*Oxymoron (terrible grace, sinister hospitality)
*Simile (Comparison of sea foam to snow)
*Black, white, gray: World of the mean in boat takes on
cheerless hues. Sense of foreboding.
*Drowning. Refrain that suggests that the men’s fear of
death is exacerbated by the unconcern of nature.
*Waves: Ceaseless presence. Forces of nature and
uncontrollability of life.
*Boat -> Human life among the universe’s uncertainties.
*Oiler’s death -> Indifference of nature.
*Poem -> Correspondent’s understanding of his plight.
*Cigars -> 4 wet cigars and 4 dry. Complex symbol of
hope for spiritual salvation.