Anti-Transcendentalists, and Transcendentalists

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Anti-Transcendentalists, and Transcendentalists

Post  Luoh on Tue May 12, 2009 11:17 pm

In Moby Dick, the transcendentalist values are shown in the parts before Ahab actually confronts Moby Dick. Before Ahab confronts Moby Dick, he believes that he can defeat Moby Dick, and he believes in the idea of unlimited potential of humans. While he believes in this, Ahab has the feeling that he can defeat Moby Dick, and that he WILL defeat Moby Dick. However, after he hears the prophecy of the Parsee and then the prophecy begins to become true, Ahab loses his belief (“Repair them now if ye can in time, and return to me; if not, Ahab is enough to die”). This quote shows that Ahab knows that he will die, but he still goes on to attack Moby Dick, thus ultimately leading to his death. The part where Ahab begins to lose his belief is the part where Melville has shifted to anti-Transcendentalist values.
Melville shows Transcendentalist values in the beginning of the story, while the anti-transcendentalist beliefs are shown from the point where the Parsee’s prophecy begins to come true.

In THE SCARLET LETTER, Hawthorne shows the transcendentalist parts of the story in the parts of the story where nature shows Hester being an individual. Hawthorne uses nature as a way to promote the transcendentalist beliefs of individualism over society. However, whenever Hester returns to society, she cannot expand, because that is not what society wants, and when she wears her scarlet A, she must be the “Hester” that the society wants her to be. When Hester is allowed to be herself, to “expand”, Hawthorne is showing his transcendentalist beliefs. However, once Hester returns to society, and cannot “expand”, Hawthorne shows his anti-transcendentalist beliefs. When Hester is being the individual Hester this is transcendentalist beliefs, whereas when she is the conforming Hester, this is anti-transcendentalist beliefs.


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