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Forest Park High School The Raven by Edgar Poe Literary Analysis

 

Literary Analysis

You have learned about some influential writers that were considered Romantics, Transcendentalists, and Anti-Transcendentalists, or Dark Romantics. You learned how the Dark Romantics were fascinated with human behavior and believed that humans had within them not only a great source for goodness but also an even stronger source for cruelty. Edgar Allan Poe’s writings especially have given rise to such genres as horror, suspense, and modern Gothic. Writers of modern Gothic use the same techniques that Poe used (bleak setting, violent incidents, physical torment, and supernatural elements) to create stories that horrify and amaze readers today as much as Poe’s stories have done for 150 years. Transcendentalist essays and prose sought to find truth and meaning beyond the physical human experience and extolled the virtues of living the natural life. The Fireside Poets and Whitman, like the Transcendentalists, sought to leave the corruption of the city life behind in favor of the beauty and simplicity of nature. But above all, Romantic writers stressed their valuing of intuition and feeling over reason and logic, which gave birth to a new type of American hero. The new American hero is uncivilized and unsophisticated. He has his own sense of honor and a distrust of industrial progress that lends him a sense of innocence.

Imagine that you are a critic for a national newspaper. You have been asked to select a piece of Romantic literature and analyze it, explaining how the piece fits the ideals of Romanticism or Transcendentalism. Remember what you learned about literary analysis. Examine the piece by breaking it into its basic literary elements and finding examples of Romanticism in the literary devices, plot elements, and theme. You may use simple, journalistic-style writing that may be opinionated or editorial in tone as long as you properly cite examples and instances from the text. You should use proper English, but your tone should be conversational and your points creatively presented in order to capture and keep a reader’s interest. It is not necessary for the piece to be extensive; one thousand words will suffice.

Select one of the stories or poems previously read in this module or one of the others listed to re-read and analyze for its Romantic elements:

  • “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “The First Snowfall” by James Russell Lowell
  • “A Winter Idyll” by John Greenleaf Whittier
  • “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
  • Excerpt from Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Excerpt from Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • “The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “Halley’s Comet” by Stanley Kunitz

Once you have selected your story or poem, you may want to use the list of analysis questions and points that you learned in this module to aid you in reviewing the piece:

  1. Make sure to understand what you are reading.
  2. Examine the conflict, how it is resolved, and which characters change.
  3. Determine the theme.
  4. Note the author’s style through use of literary elements.
  5. Observe images and symbols.
  6. Determine the cultural and historical context of the work.
  7. Outline plot development (the exposition, main rising action events, climax, and resolution).
  8. Make note of the structure and format of the work.

Before you begin, review the mod6_summative_checklist (1)-1.doc to make sure that you include all of the items required for full credit.

How to write a literary analysis helpful websites:

literary analysis how to

7 steps to a literary analysis

Reflection

The literature and art of the Romantic period allowed the newly formed independent nation to forge their own cultural identity. Up until the early 19th century, the culture of the new world was not uniquely American; it was a patchwork of the European, Asian, and African cultures of early immigrants. But with the establishment of a new independent nation, it was time for a new independent identity. Even today, the influences and effects of the Romantic and Transcendentalist views can be found in modern culture. Americans today are still very much concerned with forging an individual identity, searching for truth and meaning in naturally occurring events, and trying to find a balance between the natural world and progress.

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