Exploring the Themes in the American Literature
American literature started in the early 17th century. Most themes revolved around the people’s imaginations, desire to influence behavior, and preserve their experiences. Religion, romanticism, and language stood out for me this semester as the most dominant themes in the literature. Religion impacted all aspects of life, and literature explored it as an individual venture and used symbols and metaphors to reveal the two forces, darkness, and light. Romanticism was explored as an artistic aspect to praise nature, human emotions, and intuition and bring out darker themes. Melville suspends optimism and transcendentalism to reveal the dark theme of revenge. Language is explored as a fundamental factor both as an artistic tool to tell the story and metaphorically reveal deeper issues. Authors explored language metaphorically to signify cultural heritage; they presented religion as an individual mystic journey highlighting human weaknesses and vulnerabilities and expressed romanticism through vengeance and obsession.
Religion is a personified journey. Young Goodman Brown and Moby Dick address religion from an individualistic perspective. In both texts, human weakness is exposed, and it serves as the flaw that leads them to their tragic end. Young Goodman Brown highlights the character and happenings which coincide with the Book of Genesis and the fall of man. In the book, the character’s curiosity makes him vulnerable to the devil’s temptations, just like Eve. Most authors’ explored religion from an individual perspective as it was perceived as a personal journey. In the text, when Goodman sees the minister and deacons in the devil’s realm, he realizes that society had let him down by worshipping the devil. He “looked up to the sky, doubting whether there was a heaven above him. Yet the blue arch and the stars were brightening in it. ‘With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the Devil!’ cried Goodman Brown” (Hawthorne 5). The quote depicts an imaginative phase where he doubts whether God and heaven exist after realizing that the people served the devil; he and questions his knowledge. Brown depends on other people’s faith and gets lost when he loses the collective sense of morality. Besides, the purity of his ancestors did not count in his vulnerability and weakness. The same aspect comes out in Moby Dick, where His revenge towards the white whale guides Ahab. “He was intent on an audacious, immitigable, and supernatural revenge” (Melville 202). White whale signifies an epitome of purity or a mystic creation. However, Ahab’s vengeance and bitterness become the source of the crew’s demise.