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Romanticism In Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's A Palm Of Life

Decent Essays
Another method for one to grasp the trend of culture would be through analyzing literature. The continual strife within America produced two sets of quite distinct styles of literature. One was Romanticism, which was practiced by many Transcendentalists, who believed in the positivity of life and emphasized progress. In reaction to a surge in optimism, American Gothic was introduced, plagued with death and horror, emphasizing how there were always negative aspects to life. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “A Psalm of Life” is quite resembling of these Romantic values. The work centers around a young man, who denies the claim that life is merely “an empty dream,” or that the soul is long dead. He suggests that life is full of potential and…show more content…
Either way, there is a clash sign of positivity and negativity that extends and branches out to different sectors of American life, an interesting development as life continues on. Despite the increasing differences among factions and the continual clash between optimists and pessimists, one ideal that the large majority of Americans could agree on was salvation through religion. Throughout the most desperate periods of time, Americans resorted to consolidated their faith and hoping that their continued beliefs would eventually bring them relief from the bounds of society. This idea was especially prevalent among certain slaves. Phillis Wheatley, a slave that lived in the late-18th century, expressed thankfulness in arriving at America as she was able to obtain knowledge of the Trinity and attain the highest of faiths. She claims that it was “mercy that brought [her] from [her] pagan land,” despite her clear disparaging status as an enslaved being. Wheatley emphasizes two dominant cultural aspects of eighteenth century America within her work, with one being the strict religious adherence that colonists practiced in New England, and the other being the racial discord that was spurring with the increase in diversity. Phillis Wheatley effectively provides a resolution to the latter element of American society by promoting the former, and believed that the different races could attain purification
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