Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

Post  hen on Wed May 13, 2009 2:18 am

In Moby Dick, Ahab is the best representative figure of transcendentalism. His idea of revenge against a colossal whale as an old man with one leg is analogous to the idea of a single ant taking on a fully grown spider. Through Ahab's conquest for revenge, Melville depicts the transcendentalist view of unlimited human potential. Ahab truly believes that he has a chance against the whale despite his physical condition and the obvious differences in size and power. Other hints of this transcendentalist view can be seen scattered throughout the story:
-Ahab's statement of "Truth hath no confines," basically the same as the "truth does not bound or restrict man"
-At the beginning of "The Chase," it was said that Ahab does not think. He only feels. Only God has the privilege to think. This goes into Emerson's beliefs of people trusting their instinct, living by feelings, and even into the realm of all of our sudden realizations and inspirations being us opening a passage to the beams of the fountain of knowledge: "God" is the one doing the thinking, we simply use feelings to receive His thoughts.

Thinking back on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the transcendentalist representative would appear to be Hester. Hester was a symbol of individualism and non-conformity, and her scarlet letter A embroidered onto her chest constantly reminds people of her will to break society's rules. Other transcendentalist views would be the meaning of the forest, of nature. Though the townspeople thought that the forest was a land of evil, it is actually where Hester and Dimmesdale find their peace and realize what they need to do to regain their happiness in life, as if it inspired them.

However, all of these transcendentalist views take a completely different direction. In other words, the characters still meet their ghastly demise. Ahab, after a epic struggle between Moby Dick, is defeated and sinks into the ocean. At this point, Melville implies that his quest for revenge has bent his mind to the point that there is a sense of evil in him (implied through his description of the sinking to be associated with Satan). Ahab's defeat shows that there is still a boundary, that we are still mortal, and that some things simply are beyond our range. Anti-transcendentalism is also seen in the prophecies, which all seem to come true. These prophecies, then, are a form of limits and boundaries, and they were not overcome by Ahab or the Parsee, who made the prophecy and prophesied his own death.
Hawthorne had a partially happy ending, but not one that most may have expected. After the forest scene it would have seemed that Hester and Dimmesdale were sure to go on with their plan and find a way to escape the city and live happily as a family somewhere else where they are unknown. Instead, a sudden turn of events results in Dimmesdale confessing to his sin and dying in front of everyone. Hester and Pearl still escape to somewhere else, but Hester returns as it seems that she can not possibly forget the feeling the town gave her. The only happiness in the ending is Hester and Dimmesdale being buried next to each other and united in death. In terms of limits, this would also be the limits of our reality. Things do not always go as planned, as anything can happen at anytime. Just think of it this way: right now, at this very moment, as I type this or as you read it, the chance of the sudden destruction of the world is actually not 0%. It may be close, but perhaps not quite a close as we would like. And far as I know, there's nothing we can do about it. We can not control the universe, if a black hole were to appear and suck our world into oblivion anytime soon, there is nothing we can do about it. This expresses what the anti-transcendentalists wanted to prove to the transcendentalists; that the world isn't always positive.
avatar
hen

Posts : 80
Join date : 2009-05-07

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Transcendentalists vs. Anti-Transcendentalists

Post  Ajk on Wed May 13, 2009 10:24 pm

hen wrote:In Moby Dick, Ahab is the best representative figure of transcendentalism. His idea of revenge against a colossal whale as an old man with one leg is analogous to the idea of a single ant taking on a fully grown spider. Through Ahab's conquest for revenge, Melville depicts the transcendentalist view of unlimited human potential. True, Henning, the courage that Ahab exhibits reflects a belief in his unlimited potential. However, the motive of revenge does not reflect Transcendentalist thought, as it is a distorted interpretation of the motives of Moby Dick, hence the ego-mind being in overdrive kind of thinking. You see this? Ahab truly believes that he has a chance against the whale despite his physical condition and the obvious differences in size and power. Other hints of this transcendentalist view can be seen scattered throughout the story:
-Ahab's statement of "Truth hath no confines," basically the same as the "truth does not bound or restrict man" Excellent, yes.
-At the beginning of "The Chase," it was said that Ahab does not think. He only feels. Only God has the privilege to think. This goes into Emerson's beliefs of people trusting their instinct, living by feelings, and even into the realm of all of our sudden realizations and inspirations being us opening a passage to the beams of the fountain of knowledge: "God" is the one doing the thinking, we simply use feelings to receive His thoughts. Really strong critical reading and thinking in your application of Transcendentalist ideas here, Henning. Excellent.
Thinking back on Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, the transcendentalist representative would appear to be Hester. Hester was a symbol of individualism and non-conformity, and her scarlet letter A embroidered onto her chest constantly reminds people of her will to break society's rules. Other transcendentalist views would be the meaning of the forest, of nature. Though the townspeople thought that the forest was a land of evil, it is actually where Hester and Dimmesdale find their peace and realize what they need to do to regain their happiness in life, as if it inspired them.

However, all of these transcendentalist views take a completely different direction. In other words, the characters still meet their ghastly demise. Ahab, after a epic struggle between Moby Dick, is defeated and sinks into the ocean. At this point, Melville implies that his quest for revenge has bent his mind to the point that there is a sense of evil in him (implied through his description of the sinking to be associated with Satan). Ahab's defeat shows that there is still a boundary, that we are still mortal, and that some things simply are beyond our range. Anti-transcendentalism is also seen in the prophecies, which all seem to come true. These prophecies, then, are a form of limits and boundaries, and they were not overcome by Ahab or the Parsee, who made the prophecy and prophesied his own death. Right. This is where Melville diverges from Transcendentalism, right. But it's important to note that Melville chooses to have Ahab and his other minor characters believe this prophecy.

Hawthorne had a partially happy ending, but not one that most may have expected. After the forest scene it would have seemed that Hester and Dimmesdale were sure to go on with their plan and find a way to escape the city and live happily as a family somewhere else where they are unknown. Instead, a sudden turn of events results in Dimmesdale confessing to his sin and dying in front of everyone. Hester and Pearl still escape to somewhere else, but Hester returns as it seems that she can not possibly forget the feeling the town gave her. The only happiness in the ending is Hester and Dimmesdale being buried next to each other and united in death. In terms of limits, this would also be the limits of our reality. Things do not always go as planned, as anything can happen at anytime.

Just think of it this way: right now, at this very moment, as I type this or as you read it, the chance of the sudden destruction of the world is actually not 0%. It may be close, but perhaps not quite a close as we would like. And far as I know, there's nothing we can do about it. We can not control the universe, if a black hole were to appear and suck our world into oblivion anytime soon, there is nothing we can do about it. This expresses what the anti-transcendentalists wanted to prove to the transcendentalists; that the world isn't always positive.
Is it this simplistic, Henning? Or is it that there is not unlimited potential, that our thoughts do not magnetize to us, along with our feeling a belief in our ability, all that is good. That we do not create our reality, with our thoughts? Not necessarily only optimism vs. pessimism.

_________________
please see our forum at www.transparency.phpbb9.com/ and
[url]http:transparenteyeballers.blogspot.com[/url][/url]
avatar
Ajk
Admin

Posts : 52
Join date : 2009-05-07

View user profile http://transparency.phpbb9.com; www.transparenteyeballers.blogsp

Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum