Dark Romantics Essay

Look at the Transcendentalist Essay you worked on a few weeks ago.

You’re gonna’ do it again, but this time you’re gonna’ focus on Poe & his Dark Romanticism.
Think you can do that?
(I do.)

Using your notes from American Romanticism & Transcendentalists, quotes and any notes from seminar, journal entries, and texts with annotations from Poe, explore one of the following prompts.  Treat this like an in-class essay. You should introduce your ideas in a paragraph, explore the theme in a number of body paragraphs, then conclude your ideas.  USE QUOTES TO SUPPORT YOUR IDEAS

OH!  Maybe you examined nature in the first set but you want to explore intuition in this set. YOU CAN TOTALLY DO THAT!  Or, if you like things parallel and organized, you may want to focus on non-conformity this time since you focused on it last time.  YOU CAN DO THAT TOO!  Listen to your heart.

1. Intuition & Emotional Knowledge: The Romantics believed that imagination was able to discover truths that the rational mind could not reach.  They favored intuition over reason.  Pull quotes from Poe that connects to this concept of intuition – the capacity to know things immediately through our emotions.  What kinds of knowledge does Poe explore through his characters’ emotional states?  What kinds of emotions does Poe explore?  What kinds of truths do his characters reach & what do you think he is saying about emotions vs. reason?  You could focus each paragraph on different emotions or each paragraph could focus on different characters from his text. Consider comparing Poe’s emotions with Emerson & Thoreau’s emotions as you write.

2.  (Absence of) Nature: American Romanticism developed as a reaction to rationalism, and as a result the city becomes a place of shifting morals, corruption, & death.   How does Poe highlight this idea in his texts?  How is society represented as the dishonest majority in his stories? (“The Pit & Pendulum” is particularly focused on this concept.) Compare this with the Transcendentalist belief that one must reflect on the natural world to find Big-B-Beauty (and Big-T-Truth).  In nature, the ordinary becomes EXTRAordinary / SUPERnatural.  They believed that nature can provide sense in a chaotic world. What becomes SUPERnatural or EXTRAordinary in the corruptible city under Poe? How does chaos dominate in the absence of nature in Poe’s work?  Compare and contrast Poe’s characters and the ways they are twisted/perverted compared to the truths of Emerson & Thoreau.

3. Non-conformity: The Transcendentalists believed strongly in self-reliance and non-conformity to tradition.  Poe’s characters are most definitely non-conformists, but not in quite the same way Emerson and Thoreau intended.  What happens when these characters listen to their solitary voices? What do these characters’ voices say?  How is Poe commenting on the Transcendentalists’ views of non-conformity?  Is it the same as theirs? You could make an argument that it is.  Is it different?  You can make that argument too.  Explore that in a few paragraphs using Poe’s characters as examples.

Got that finished?  Go to the next stage for finalizing your essay. (That will be posted on Wednesday 10/16 – bet you can’t wait to see what’s next, can you?)

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