Term Paper, 2004
18 Pages, Grade: 1.5
Few writers exist outside of the currents of the times in which they live, and Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne are no exceptions. They are clearly products of their time, which in terms of literature, is called the Romantic Era. The Romantic Movement was one which began in Germany, moved through all of Europe and Russia, and, almost simultaneously, changed the entire course of American literature. Among England’s great Romantic writers are William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and Sir Walter Scott. Romantic writers in America who were contemporaries of Poe and Hawthorne include Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Hence, Poe and Hawthorne became key figures in the nineteenth-century flourishing of American letters and literature. Famed twentieth-century literary critic F.O. Matthiessen 1 named this period the American Renaissance. He argued that nineteenth-century writers like Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Poe, 2 Melville and Whitman crafted a distinctly American literature that attempts to escape from the long shadow of the British literary tradition. These writers wrote in a Romantic vein, with a marked emphasis on subjectivity and an interest in scenes of early American life and pristine American landscapes. Yet, most of these writers in different ways also exhibited the darker tones of Romanticism when dealing with American life.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) is perhaps the best-known American Romantic who worked in the so-called Gothic mode. His poems and stories explore the darker side of the Romantic imagination, dealing with the Grotesque, the
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