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Thoreau and Poe: Different Writers’ Views on American Literature

Jun 23, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jun 23, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments

One of the famous writers in the study of American literature and History is Thoreau. Through his work, he influenced critical thinking among his readers. Thoreau’s Works the Walden challenges the validity of having a government, paying taxes, and many other social issues. Other writers have similarly given their opinions on the understanding of Walden. Another Writer is Edgar Poe, who, through his short stories and poems, tells different life experiences. This paper will discuss both of these writers’ works through the eyes of different writers.


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Poetzsch, Markus. “Sounding Walden Pond: The Depths and ‘Double Shadows’ of Thoreau’s Autobiographical Symbol.” ATQ 22.2 (2008): 387-401. Print.

Poetzch explores the autobiographical symbolism in Double Shadows of Thoreau. He says the phrase Walden Pond is a symbol that different authors, such as Richard Schneider, have explored. He compares authors like Melvin Lyon, who built the pond’s symbolism, to morality and purity matters. To him, Walden Pond is like a travel diary for the reader. The scenery of the pond is painted as a personal guide. Poetzch suggests that the challenges presented by a different critic of Thoreau’s text are intended to challenge the understanding of growth. He suggests that Thoreau’s text indulges fantasy regarding the ethical environment and philosophy. He agrees with Lawrence Buell, who says that Thoreau’s writing has greatly influenced American culture formation.

Bankston, Carl L. “Thoreau’s Case for Political Disengagement.” Modern Age 52.1 (winter 2010): 6-13. Print.

Carl associates the text with modern political activism. He adds that Thoreau’s Works influenced the works of Martin Luther King Jnr and Mahatma Gandhi, among many activists. Carl explores Thoreau’s views about government, justice, and voting. He says that from the Text, Thoreau expresses his disregard for the law and thinks that the law is an expression of the opinion of the well-off in society. Thoreau argues for moral disengagement from the government. He explores the importance of personal action over political action. Carl is respectful of Thoreau’s views; however, he says that Thoreau does not accept the libertarian Principle that individuals are guided by their agreements and engagements. Carl argues that perhaps the societal divide at the time would legitimize Thoreau’s actions, for instance, his refusal to pay taxes.

Carl disagrees with Thoreau’s views; for example, he states that Thoreau was opposed to slavery and the Mexican war; he, however, does not give his reasons for opposing. Further, Thoreau does not provide a mapping work for the peaceful and free society he wants. Carl contradicts the previous and current interpretations of the essay. He suggests that Thoreau’s text manifested social and political libertarianism since choice and association guide human conscience.

Fanuzzi, Robert. “Thoreau’s Urban Imagination.” American Literature, Volume 68, No 2 (1996): 321-346. Print.

He explores Thoreau’s, Walden Story. He states that Thoreau went to the country to find the city. To him, the city is both present in the Walden story. It is only present through illusions of city life. He says that if Thoreau resided in Boston, it would have been easy to endow him with urban imagination. According to Fanuzzi, the main challenge Walden poses is the free imagination of Thoreau about urbanism and the construction of the social space.

Morgan, Winifred. “‘Bartleby’ and the Failure of Conventional Virtue.” Renascence 45.4 (summer 1993): 257-27. Print.

Morgan Wilfred explores Bartleby, a story by Herman Melville. He informs the reader that most of Herman Melville’s stories are based on voyages. The Bartley, however, is not a voyage story but a story of Wall Street. He starts by telling the encounters of the narrator with Bartley. He goes further to present the critics’ argument on the Bartley story. Wilfred states that some critics, such as Arvin, Dillingham, and Pribex, to name a few, interpret Bartley’s common strange behavior as inhumane and depict the forces of modern society. Morgan agrees that by Bartley sending the narrator to church on Sunday morning, he wants to be identified as a staunch Christian. He adds that using biblical quotations in the text manifests listening skills and a better interpretation of the bible.

Drain, Kim. “Poe’s Death-Watches and the Architecture of Doubt.” New England Review 27.2 (2006): 169-177. Print.

Drain Kim explores her understanding of the Raven by Edgar Allen Poe. Drain understands Poe’s stories more than she dreams about. She says that the structure of Poe’s stories and poems is architectural. She adds that the strong opinions expressed by Poe in his writing are strongly related to the interior decoration and landscaping gardening fields. Many things are alive in Poe’s work, or at least imbued with mute intelligence. For instance, one of his most disturbing stories, “Bernice,” concerns a monomaniacal man’s obsession with his cousin’s teeth. To these teeth “long, narrow, and excessively white,” the story’s narrator assigns “a sensitive and sentient power, “capable “even when unassisted by the lips . . . of moral expression.” In short, to his horror, this man comes to think of Bernice’s teeth as “ideas.” And in one of the most grotesque scenes in all of Poe’s work, he pulls these ideas, these teeth, from his cousin’s mouth during one of her paralyzing fits of epilepsy.


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