Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

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Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Philly_CS on Wed May 13, 2009 12:40 am

Okay, let's see how to start this off.

Melville and Hawthorne, according to online resources, was nurtured in the Transcendentalist era where everything is optimistic and utopian communities are springing up all over America. One major aspect of the Transcendentalist is the focus on the inner world rather than the outer world. Instead of focusing on the logical, classicist ideal of the ideal, the ordered, Transcendentalists focus on the inner mind and nature that is almost the complete opposite of the classicist ideal. For example, we see that in Moby Dick, Melville was exploring the inner world of the crew (Starbuck, Ishmael) along with Captain Ahab. We can see the motives of Ahab, and we can also see his mind being reflective on his actions (pacing back and forth on the boat, not revealing himself in the beginning). In Hawthorne, well, I don't need to explain as all four of the characters all have their inner self explored pretty thoroughly. We can also find that in Melville's Moby Dick, Ahab was pretty optimistic in seeking his revenge, and even roused up the entire crew because of it. In Hawthorne, we can also see the optimism in escaping to Europe for the family. However, here's the path they took different to Thoreau and Emerson: the Anti-transcendentalists seem to mock the idea of the perfection within each human being, at least being much less confident than the Transcendentalists. Melville and Hawthorne seem to also include the possibility of corruption and sin into the characters within the story. Hawthorne I need not to explain (Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth), Melville wrote of Ahab's demise that sprang from his blind zeal for vengeance. There also seems to be a loss of hope for Ahab when nearing the confrontation as he is less and less confident about his own innate ability; this seems to parallel the hopefulness and the zeal that the Transcendentalists took with their ideals.

To conclude, Hawthorne and Melville carries some Transcendentalist values with them (because they lived in the era of the optimism and the age of Transcendentalism). Even though they hold values that derive from Transcendentalists, they have created new themes that are critical of the overtly optimistic Transcendentalism.
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Re: Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Andy.S on Wed May 13, 2009 1:04 am

very nice and short.
But I question Ahab's "optimistic" seeking for revenge. As it brings a postive connotation, will it fit for the description of revenge?...
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Re: Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Philly_CS on Wed May 13, 2009 1:14 am

Okay, so Ahab's optimism is more like zeal and faith, but isn't that also what Transcendentalists do? If you over-simply Transcendentalists, they are nothing but people who believe they have access to God's power. I think Melville was trying to connect Ahab's blind faith with the Transcendentalists, just as how Stowe tried to connect slave owners' ambivalence with the real slave owners. Melville was criticizing the over-optimistic feeling of Transcendentalism, and saying that it is nothing but faith and zeal.
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Re: Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  joyceychen on Wed May 13, 2009 1:42 am

so Melville and Hawthorne think faith and zeal isnt going to get you far, whereas in like The Secret, they say that you need to believe and not doubt. Melville/Hawthorne see blind faith as a restriction? You need more than just that for it to work?
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Re: Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Ajk on Wed May 13, 2009 10:28 pm

Philly_CS wrote:Okay, let's see how to start this off.

Melville and Hawthorne, according to online resources, was nurtured in the Transcendentalist era where everything is optimistic and utopian communities are springing up all over America. One major aspect of the Transcendentalist is the focus on the inner world rather than the outer world. Yes. Instead of focusing on the logical, classicist ideal of the ideal, the ordered, Transcendentalists focus on the inner mind and nature that is almost the complete opposite of the classicist ideal. Right.

For example, we see that in Moby Dick, Melville was exploring the inner world of the crew (Starbuck, Ishmael) along with Captain Ahab. We can see the motives of Ahab, and we can also see his mind being reflective on his actions (pacing back and forth on the boat, not revealing himself in the beginning). Really good critical and accurate inferential reading. In Hawthorne, well, I don't need to explain as all four of the characters all have their inner self explored pretty thoroughly. We can also find that in Melville's Moby Dick, Ahab was pretty optimistic in seeking his revenge, and even roused up the entire crew because of it. Right. In Hawthorne, we can also see the optimism in escaping to Europe for the family.

However, here's the path they took different to Thoreau and Emerson: the Anti-transcendentalists seem to mock the idea of the perfection within each human being, at least being much less confident than the Transcendentalists. "mock" is really good diction, as this is what is described in the rhetoric around the Anti-Transcendentalists' feelings towards the Transcendentalist ideas, in some regards. Melville and Hawthorne seem to also include the possibility of corruption and sin into the characters within the story. Hawthorne I need not to explain (Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingworth), Melville wrote of Ahab's demise that sprang from his blind zeal for vengeance. Ok but note that it is a "blind zeal for vengeance" you're saying, so that this is an example, yet still, of the internal world being then imposed onto the external world. There also seems to be a loss of hope for Ahab when nearing the confrontation as he is less and less confident about his own innate ability; this seems to parallel the hopefulness and the zeal that the Transcendentalists took with their ideals.

To conclude, Hawthorne and Melville carries some Transcendentalist values with them (because they lived in the era of the optimism and the age of Transcendentalism). Even though they hold values that derive from Transcendentalists, they have created new themes that are critical of the overtly optimistic Transcendentalism.
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Re: Transcendentalist vs Anti-Transcendentalist

Post  Luoh on Thu May 14, 2009 9:05 pm

HAHA, this is the shortest one i've seen....besides mine Very Happy

However, you say that Ahab's demise came from a blind zeal for vengeance. The thing is, i believe that if the Parsee leader had not made the prophecy, and had the prophecy not started to become true during the chase, Ahab may have backed off of attacking Moby Dick, and then began to find another time. However, because of the prophecy starting to become true, he started to attack Moby Dick, knowing that he was going to die.
In the entire context of what you have said, it is true that Melville used this part of the story to show where Melville begins to show his breaking away from the ideals of transcendentalism, into anti-transcendentalism.

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