The Trascendentalism in Anti-Trascendentalists

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The Trascendentalism in Anti-Trascendentalists

Post  Hannah Park on Tue May 12, 2009 8:58 pm

Well, in Moby Dick, the fronts parts are actually pretty Trascendentalist, if one thinks about it. Ahab pursues Moby Dick even though Starbuck and his mates tells him that it is a chase that will end in no good, but Ahab believes that he can kill Moby Dick himself. But in the very end, he believes that he can kill Moby but when one part of the prophecy about his death comes true after another, he seems to somewhat loose that confidence that he had in the beginning of the story. And why shouldn't he? His crewmen are dying, his ships are wrecked and Moby Dick was enormous compared to him. Maybe it was because he was feeling sort of dispair that Ahab started attacking Moby Dick with no regards to his own safety, and was ultimately killed. Maybe if he had more confidence in himself, he might've killed Moby Dick and lived. Or maybe if he believed that there will be a next time, he would've also lived. But Ahab seemed to have believed that this was the last chance to Moby Dick, to get his revenge, so he acted so rashly. How Ahab feels that Moby Dick has a personal grudge or something against him, instead of maybe thinking that whales need to eat things too, and maybe it just happened to be his legs is unfortuante, but part of nature is definatley not Trascendentalist. I don't know if it's Anti-Trascendentalist though, but Thoreau looked at ants killing each other and undestood that's all part of nature. I don't know if he would've thought that if the ants ate his legs, but being extremely unlucky and therefore seeking revenge didn't work out for Ahab. Being vengeful never seems to lead to happy endings... which is one point for Trascendentalism and living in the now! I love you

Hawthorne seems to be agreeing with Emerson that nature is the place to escape from society, and nature is the place of refuge for Hester and Pearl especailly since they live so near the forest.; it is the place where there are no people to judge them, because they dare to be different. Hester is described in the begining as wearing bright, stylish clothes so unlike the bland colors Puritans wore in those days. Little by little, Hester seems to loose what made her so vibrant and different, and starts to dress more plainly, to do charity work like a good Puritan women should, and fit in with society; society made her into what they want her to be. But in the forest with Pearl and Dimmesdale Hester even took off the scarlet letter. But in the end, even after she got all that money from Chillingworth, Hester still chose to come back to Boston. Whether this was because society has managed to supress her, or Hester found joy helping others is not clear but the people of Boston certainly accepted her back to society. But the fact that she had to conform with society to be accepted is quite Anti-Trascendentalist; a Trascendentalist book may have had Hester still being herself and not a ghost of herself, as she is described in the book, and the society accepting HER, not her having to supress herself in order to be accepted.
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Hannah Park

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Re: The Trascendentalism in Anti-Trascendentalists

Post  ivy on Tue May 12, 2009 11:51 pm

"How Ahab feels that Moby Dick has a personal grudge or something against him, instead of maybe thinking that whales need to eat things too, and maybe it just happened to be his legs is unfortunate, but part of nature is definitely not Transcendentalist."
sheer brilliance. haha
i agree though, and just as luoh has said, emerson never talks about the negative side, however, that might be more likely if we live in utopia.
I think anti-transcendentalism may seem more realistic to our lives, but sometimes we need to draw the line between a foolish consistency and genuine determination
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Re: The Trascendentalism in Anti-Trascendentalists

Post  Vicky on Tue May 12, 2009 11:52 pm

Hannah! Wink
Okay, so I completely agree with you that by showing his confidence in being able to kill Moby Dick, Ahab is demonstrating the transcendental quality of having self-trust. Ahab clearly believed in his own potential as he says states that “Truth hath no confines.” However, this only applies mentally, not physically. When Ahab is actually facing Moby Dick, he somehow loses his self-trust, and ends up succumbing to the prophecy and let it take charge of his fate. His thoughts start to drift back to the prophecy, and since thoughts create reality, Ahab ends up creating the reality as foretold by the oracle.

I also agree with your second point. I think that Hawthorne also shows that nature serves as an escape from the dungeons of society. When Hester, Pearl, and Dimmesdale venture into the woods, they become more optimistic, more open. Hester even takes off her scarlet letter, a symbol of the suppression of society. However, Hawthorne seems to also be suggesting that even if one is able to escape from society temporarily, one must return to it sometime; one you have tasted the contaminating waters of society, it is hard for you to turn your back against it. So it all ends with the conclusion that we end up needing the acceptance of society, instead of accepting society ourselves. In a way then, we are still bound to the principles of society. So societal rules still defeat individualism.

Yep, so I pretty much agree with your points. You go, girl! Smile
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Re: The Trascendentalism in Anti-Trascendentalists

Post  joannneee on Wed May 13, 2009 12:10 am

Hannah, reading your post has really gotten me thinking: I agree with everything you wrote in the first paragraph - Ahab is indeed defeated when he believed himself to be defeated. However, most of all, I agree to your comment about nature - it almost seems like Hawthorne is saying that Nature is a haven to society's boundaries. However, what about Melville? Moby Dick has always been a center point of Ahab's vengeance. So maybe Ahab is like Chillingworth - He gives up hope when he believes himself to be staring death in the face. His hatred for the whale is eclipsed by his feeling of ruin upon seeing his wrecked ship, and suddenly the revenge that has driven him thus far is taken from him in a cruel twist of fate. This kind of shows the crashing of a man's dream - as if he is trying to say that life great in the mind, but what you can do physically is limited to who you are (and thus Ahab's ivory leg.)

So, in conclusion, great job on the summarization and organization! Very Happy
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