Romantics to Transcendentalists

Puritans, Realists,
Romantics, and
What do you think?
• “Puritanism. The
haunting fear
that someone,
may be happy.”
H.L. Mencken
Puritans Vs. Pilgrims
• Small group of Puritans who
traveled on the Mayflower
in 1620 to establish a
“purified” church.
• Settled the Massachusetts
Bay Colony about 10 years
after Mayflower Pilgrims
came over. Also pilgrims, as
in seeking a new home
because of religious
• Reconstruct not only
church, but man and man’s
institutions as well.
Puritanism: A New Start in America
• Persecuted in England for going
against the Protestant
• Religion was an individual,
personal, and internal
• The individual’s relationship
with God was not determined
by a member of the clergy or
the government—it was direct
• Believed that all humans were
damned (depravity), but that
some were meant to be saved.
Even More Major
• Fate was pre-determined-one couldn’t “save” oneself,
but if one led a good life,
one would be able to see the
“signs” that meant one were
• Only God’s grace was an
individual’s salvation.
• Dissenters were punished
severely: flogging,
banishment, death (Salem
Witch Trials)
• Business was an important
part of community, as was
Puritan Community/Values:
• Contract-based (like
convenant with God)
of democracy
• Valued: self-awareness,
temperance, and simplicity
Puritan “Look”
Salem Witch Trials
Salem Witch Trials: 1692
•19 men and women (5 men)
convicted and hung for witchcraft
•Daughter and niece of a prominent
reverent fell ill. People called
“witchcraft” and the witch hunt began
•People accused others by “calling out
names” in fits, or sickness=panic
•Fear of the devil and his workings,
paranoia born out of uncertainty and
fear, factions in villages, competition
with nearby towns, epidemic of
•After less than a year, the court
disbanded, all those in prison for
witchcraft were pardoned and the
“witch hunt” was over
•Families were eventually given
apologies and restitution
Puritan Writing
• Bible=model as people
searched for connections
between their lives and
biblical events
• Each individual’s life was a
spiritual journey, so recorded
in diaries and historical
documents describing the
workings of God.
• Known for plain style of
writing emphasizing clarity
and avoiding complicated
figures of speech
Puritan Writers
Anne Bradstreet
William Bradford
Mary Rowlandson
Jonathan Edwards
Anne Bradstreet
•Born in England in 1612
•Married Simon Bradstreet at
16, emigrated to Colonies in
•Wrote of her family, love for
her husband, and love for God
•Wrote privately, but brotherin-law brought some poems
to England where they were
•Unusual for her to write
poetry in this fashion as
women were in more
traditional roles in this
society, but Bradstreet
blended “depravity” with
“hope” and didn’t challenge
authority with her writing
Image Analysis: Benjamin
Franklin Drawing
Electricity from the Sky
•What do you notice about
Franklin in this painting? What
is the viewer supposed to think
about him? What is he doing?
•What subjects or ideas are
highlighted in this painting?
•What do you notice in the
•How does this image contrast
with the ideals of Puritanism
that we discussed?
•Based on this image (and it’s
title), what can you glean or
infer about the time period this
painting is meant to represent?
“The Age of Reason”: Rationalism
• The belief that human beings can arrive at
truth by using reason
• Response to Puritanism starting around the
end of the 17th century
• Influenced by European “Enlightenment” (17th
and 18th centuries)
• New ideas about God: “clockmaker” who gave
humans the gift of reason which allows them
to discover scientific and spiritual truth
Changing Trends…
• God=actively and
mysteriously involved in the
workings of the universe
• Everyone’s fate is predetermined.
• Humans are inherently
• Bible contains all truth.
God=clockmaker of the universe
God=gave humans the gift of
reason aka the ability to think in an
ordered, logical manner that allows
them to discover both scientific and
spiritual truth.
Everyone has the capacity to
regulate and improve his or her
own life
Deism—humanity’s goodness, God
desires human happiness, basis for
social welfare
Scientific growth in order to
discover “natural law”/improve
Franklin: Rationalist
• Henry Steele Commager:
"In Franklin could be
merged the virtues of
Puritanism without its
defects, the illumination
of the Enlightenment
without its heat.”
• Poor Richard’s Almanac,
The Autobiography (selfmade American,
Famous “Tinkers,”
Rationalist Writers, and
Rationalist Literature:
• Benjamin Franklin, Thomas
Jefferson, Thomas Paine,
Patrick Henry
• Declaration of Independence
and related writings (Iroquois
Constitution, Declaration of
• Persuasive political
writings/speeches: ethos,
logos, pathos
• Instruct upon values for selfimprovement (Poor Richard’s
“The American Dream”
“We will walk on our own
feet; we will work with
our own hands; we will
speak with our own
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
In what ways does this
quote epitomize the
idea of the “American
Dream” during this time
period? What is your
definition of the
American Dream?
American Romanticism: 1800-1860
• Developed as a reaction to
Rationalism/Industrial Revolution
• Influenced by German Romantic movements
beginning in the second half of 18th century
• Romantics saw the negative sides of progress
(poverty, over-crowding, child labor, disease,
dangerous living conditions) and responded
with a call for intuition, freedom, imagination,
individuality, nature, and poetry.
The Downsides of “Progress”
Over-crowded Living Conditions
Industrial Revolution
Rationalism Vs. Romanticism
•Belief that through
imagination, one can discover
truths that the rational mind
•Imagination, individual
feelings, and wild nature were
> reason and logic
•Poetry=highest embodiment
of imagination. Often
contrasts science with nature.
•Escaping the “dull realities”
to a realm of higher truth.
Romanticism’s “Siblings”:
Dark Romanticism
• Everything in the physical
world is a reflection of the
Divine Soul.
• Valued intuition over logic, and
the ideas of self-reliance and
• Nature is path to “transcend”
the dull realities—signs and
symbols in events/nature
• Optimistic/Utopian ideas
about improving society
(Brook Farm/Fruitlands)
Valued intuition over logic and
Saw signs and symbols in all
Made the connection between
the spiritual existing in
nature’s appearance
Thought that Tran. ignored the
“dark side” of Puritanism:
original sin, good vs. evil,
psychological effects of
guilt/sin, madness.
Romantic Writers
• “Fireside poets”—Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow,
John Greenleaf Whittier,
Oliver Wendell Holmes,
James Russell Lowe
• Ralph Waldo Emerson, H.D.
Thoreau and other T’s
• James Fenimore Cooper
• Washington Irving
Dark Romantics:
• Edgar Allen Poe
• Nathaniel Hawthorne
• Herman Melville
Poe’s Quote Corner:
• Edgar Allen Poe: Sonnet
“To Science”
Who alterest all things with
thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon
the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are
dull realities?
How should he love thee? or
how deem thee wise?
• “They who dream by day
are cognizant of many
things which escape
those who dream only by
Romantic Poetry Vs. Romantic Fiction
• Borrowed European style in
order to show that Americans
weren’t “hicks”.
• Sonnet form
• Reflected on natural world
until the “dull realities” fell
away to reveal underlying
beauty or truth
• Developed a new “hero” for
American Literature and
explored the America
unknown to Europe
• Borrowed some
from Europe, but created an
American “voice” in exploring
• “It has been a marvel to my
European readers, that a man
from the wilds of America
should express himself in
tolerable English. I was looked
upon as something new and
strange […]” Washington Irving
The Romantic Hero
• Youthful or possesses youthful
• Innocent and pure of purpose
• Has a sense of honor based
not on society’s rules but on
some higher principle
• Has knowledge of people and
life based on deep, intuitive
understanding not on formal
• Loves nature and avoids town
• Quests for some higher truth
in the natural world
• Reaction to stereotypes about
Americans from European lens
• Development of American
Romantic hero coincided with
westward expansion
• Virtue in American innocence
rather than European
• Still creating these heroes
today: Luke Skywalker, Indiana
Jones, Superman, etc.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: “The
Cross of Snow”
• Isolates nature to
understand a “truth”
• Written about his wife,
Fanny, who died after a
tragic accident (fire)
• Written 18 years after her
death, not published until
after his
• Petrarchan Sonnet: Italian
(iambic pentameter,
octave, volta, sestet)
The Cross of Snow: Mt. Holy Cross, CO
Nathaniel Hawthorne: Dark Romantic
“That blue-eyed darling Nathaniel
knew disagreeable things in his
inner soul. He was careful to send
them out in disguise.” D.H.
• Developed in the 1830s both
in connection with, and in
opposition to Romanticism
• Transcendentalism refers to
the idea that in finding God, the
universe, and the self/soul, one
must transcend typical human
experience in the physical world
•Marked by a “return” to
nature, and trust in intuition
rather than deliberate
rationality and intellectualism
• Believed that self-reliance
and individualism must
outweigh external
authority, and selfimprovement leads to
social improvement
• Worked to find the
“permanent reality that
underlies physical
• Optimism about the
potential of individual
lives and the universe
Transcendentalist Humor
Famous Transcendentalists
• Ralph Waldo Emerson
AKA Lead
• Henry David Thoreau AKA
neighbor and friend to L.T.
• Margret Fuller AKA one of
the first major feminist
writers in the US
• Amos Bronson Alcott AKA
father to Louisa May
Henry David Thoreau
• 1817-1862, born in Concord, MA.
• Went to Harvard, very well-read, but many felt
he squandered his talents and connections
(including Emerson)
• Influenced by Emerson
• Went “into the woods” to journey inwards in a
T. fashion. Built a small cabin on Emerson’s
land two miles from town. Lived there for
three years, writing, thinking, and studying life
• Wrote “Resistance to Civil
Government” while on
Walden Pond after being
arrested for not paying poll
tax (supported MexicanAmerican War) because he
felt it extended slavery.
• Died in 1862. Apparently
asked on his deathbed if he’s
made peace with God (by his
aunt). His reply: “I didn’t
know that we had ever
Walden Pond
“Resistance to Civil Government”
• Response to being jailed for one night for not
paying poll tax
• Discusses the role of the individual in society
and to his/her government
• Employs rhetoric devices of: ethos, logos,
• Inspired authors and thinkers like MLK and
Gandhi around passive/non-violent resistance
Ethos, Logos, Pathos
• Ethos is appeal based on the character of the
speaker or moral or widely accepted values
and/or standards
• Logos is appeal based on logic or reason; it
uses facts, examples, and well-reasoned
• Pathos: is an appeal based on emotion and
language and anecdotes that arouse strong