By Clyde Stone,2014-04-13 03:25
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     American Literature

     Chapter one : The romantic period

     I. Emerson’s transcendentalism and his attitude toward nature:

     1.Transcendentalismit is a philosophic and literary movement that

     flourish in New England, as a reaction against rationalism and Calvinism.

     It stressed intuitive understanding of god without the help of the church,

     and advocated independence of the mind.

     2. Emerson’s transcendentalism:

     The over-soulit is an all-pervading power goodness, from which all

     things come and of which all are a part. It is a supreme reality of mind,

     a spiritual unity of all beings and a religion. It is a communication

     between an individual soul and the universal over-soul. And he strongly

     believe in the divinity and infinity of man as an individual, so man can

     totally rely on himself.

     3.His attitude toward nature:

     Emerson loves nature. His nature is the garment of the over-soul,

     symbolic and moral bound. Nature is not something purely of the matter,

     but alive with God’s presence. It exercise a healthy and restorative

     influence on human beings. Children can see nature better than adult.

     II. Hawthorne’s Puritanism and his black vision of man:

     1. Puritanismit is the religious belief of the Puritans, who had

     intended to purify and simplify the religious ritual of the church of


     2. his black vision of manby the Calvinistic concept of original sin,

     he believed that human being are evil natured and sinful, and this sin is

     ever present in human heart and will pass one generation to another.

     3. Young Goodman Brownit shows that everyone has some evil secrets. The

     innocent and naive Brown is confronted with the vision of human evil in

     one terrible night, and then he becomes distrustful and doubtful. Brown

     stands for everyone ,who is born pure and has no contact with the real

     world ,and the prominent people of the village and church. They cover

     their secrets during daily lives, and under some circumstances such as the

     witch’s Sabbath, they become what they are. Even his closed wife, Faith,

     is no exception. So Brown is aged in that night.

     III. The symbolism of Melville’s Mobby-Dick

     1.The voyage to catch the white whale is the one of the mind in quest of

     the truth and knowledge of universe.

     2. To Ahab, the whale is an evil creature or the agent of an evil force

     that control the universe. As to readers, the whale is a symbol of

     physical limits, or a symbol of nature. It also can stand for the ultimate

     mystery of the universe and the wall behind which unknown malicious things

     are hiding.

     IV. Whitman and his Leaves of Grass :

     1. Theme: sing of the “en-mass” and the self / pursuit of love,

     happiness, and usually love / sometimes about politics (Drum taps)

     2. Whitman’s originality first in his use of the poetic form free verse

     (i.e. poetry without a fixed beat or regular rhyme scheme), by means of

     which he becomes conversational and casual.

     3.He uses the first person pronoun “I” to stress individualism, and oral

     language to acquire sympathy from the common reader.

     Chapter two : The realistic period

     I. The character analysis and social meaning of Huck Finn in Adventure

     of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

     Huck is a typical American boy with “a sound heart and a deformed

     conscience”. He appears to be vulgar in language and in manner, but he is

     honest and decent in essence. His remarkable raft’s journey down on the

     Mississippi river can be regarded as his process of education and his way

     to grow up. At first, he stands by slavery, for he clings to the idea that

     if he lets go the slave, he will be damned to go to hell. And when the

     “King” sells Jim for money, Huck decides to inform Jim’s master. After he

     thinks of the past good time when Jim and he are on the raft where Jim

     shows great care and deep affection for him, he decide to rescue Jim. And

     Huck still thinks he is wrong while he is doing the right thing.

     Huck is the son of nature and a symbol for freedom and earthly

     pragmatism. Through the eye of Huck, the innocent and reluctant rebel, we

     see the pre-Civil War American society fully exposed. Twain contrasts the

     life on the river and the life on the banks, the innocence and the

     experience, the nature and the culture, the wilderness and the


     II. Daisy Miller by Henry James

     1. Theme: The novel is a story about American innocence defeated by the

     stiff, traditional values of Europe. James condemns the American failure

     to adopt expressive manners intelligently and point out the false

     believing that a good heart is readily visible to all. The death of Daisy

     results from the misunderstanding between people with different cultural


     2. The character analysis of Daisy: She represents typical American

     girl, who is uninformed and without the mature guidance. Ignorance and

     parental indulgence combine to foster he assertive self-confidence and

     fierce willfulness. She behaves in the same daring naive way in Europe as

     she does at home. When someone is against her, she becomes more contrary.

     She knows that she means no harm and is amazed that anyone should think

     she does. She does not compromise to the European manners.

     3. The character analysis of Winterbourne: He is a Europeanized

     American, who has live too long in foreign parts. He is very experience

     and has a problem understanding Daisy. He endeavors to put her in sort of

     formula, i.e. to classify her.

     III. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser:

     1. Theme: The author invented the success of Carrie and the downfall of

     Hurstwood out of an inevitable and natural judgment, because the fittest

     can survive in a competitive, amoral society according to the social


     2. The character analysis of Carrie: She follows the right direction to

     a pursuit of the American dream, and the circumstances and her desire for

     a better life direct to the successful goal. But she is not contented,

     because with wealth and fame, she still finds herself lonely. She is a

     product of the society, a realization of the theory of the survival of the


     3. The character analysis of Hurstwood: He is a negative evidence of the

     theory of the survival of the fittest. Because he is still conventional

     and can not throw away the social morals, he is not fitted to live in New


     Chapter Three: The Modern Period

     I. Ezra Pound and his theory of Imagism

     1. The principles: a. direct treatment of the thing; b. to use

     absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation; c. to

     compose in the sequence of the musical; d. to use the language of common

     speech and the exact word; e. to create new rhythms; f. absolutely freedom

     in the choice of subject.

     2. Imagism is to present an intellectual and emotional complex in an

     instant of time. An imagistic poem must present the object exactly the way

     the thing is seen. And the reader can form the image of the object through

     the process of reading the abstract and concrete words.

     II. Frost and his poetry on nature:

     Frost is deeply interested in nature and in men’s relationship to

     nature. Nature appears as an explicator and a mediator for man and serve

     as the center of reference of his behavior. Peace and order can be found

     in Frost’s poetical natural world. With surface simplicity of his poems,

     the thematic concerns are always presented in rich symbols. Therefore his

     work resists easy interpretation.

     III. F. Scott Fitzgerald and his The Great Gatsby

     1. Theme: Gatsby is American Everyman. His extraordinary energy and

     wealth make him pursue the dream. His death in the end points at the truth

     about the withering of the American Dream. The spiritual and moral

     sterility that has resulted from the withered American Dream is fully

     revealed in the article. However, although he is defeated, the dream has

     gave Gatsby a dignity and a set of qualities. His hope and belief in the

     promise of future makes him the embodiment of the values of the

     incorruptible American Dream .

     2. The character analysis of Gatsby: Gatsby is great, because he is

     dignified and ennobled by his dream and his mythic vision of life. He has

     the desire to repeat the past, the desire for money, and the desire for

     incarnation of unutterable vision on this material earth. For Gatsby,

     Daisy is the soul of his dreams. He believe he can regain Daisy and

     romantically rebels of time. Although he has the wealth that can match

     with the leisured class, he does not have their manners. His tragedy lies

     in his possession of a naive sense and chivalry.

     IV. Ernest Hemingway’s artistic features:

     1. The Hemingway code heroes and grace under pressure:

     They have seen the cold world ,and for one cause, they boldly and

     courageously face the reality. They has an indestructible spirit for his

     optimistic view of life. Whatever is the result is, the are ready to live

     with grace under pressure. No matter how tragic the ending is, they will

     never be defeated. Finally, they will be prevail because of their

     indestructible spirit and courage.

     2. The iceberg technique:

     Hemingway believe that a good writer does not need to reveal every

     detail of a character or action. The one-eighth the is presented will

     suggest all other meaningful dimensions of the story. Thus, Hemingway’s

     language is symbolic and suggestive.

     V. The character analysis of Emily in A Rose for Emily:

     Emily is a symbol of old values, standing for tradition, duty and past

     glory. But she is also a victim to all those she cares and embrace. The

     source of Emily’s strangeness is from her born pride and self-esteem, the

     domineering behavior of her father and the betrayal of her lover.

     Barricaded in her house, she has frozen the past to protect her dreams.

     Her life is tragic because the defiance of the community, her refusal to

     accept the change and her extreme pride have pushed her to abnormality and


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