American haunted- tell me truly, I implore- Is there

American Literature has
changed much throughout the ages, creating a vast amount of poets and writers
over the years, many of which have been in the Romantic Era of literature.
These stories include works in many different forms and viewpoints, including the
transcendentalist and the anti-transcendentalist, which have awakened the
reader’s imagination to new ideas and ways of life. Edgar Allan Poe was an
anti-transcendentalist writer responsible for writing the “The Raven”. He
published his poem and became an overnight celebrity but still lived poor with
his cousin for a wife.  Henry David
Thoreau, on the other hand, was a transcendentalist writer and wrote Walden, a
story about his life in the woods away from society. “The Raven” by Edgar Allen
Poe and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden share Romantic characteristics but offer
different perspectives to their expression in their concern for individual
freedom, interest in the supernatural, and their of the five senses.In the passages, Poe
and Thoreau both write about their concern for their individual freedom and how
they believe they have it or not. They both share quite similar topics, namely
that they both would like a relief from the life that they are currently
living. In “The Raven” it writes, “Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert
land enchanted- On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore- Is
there – is there balm in Gilead? – tell me – tell me, I implore!” Balm in
Gilead is a reference to the Old Testament to a spiritual medicine that healed
Israel so the narrator is begging the raven for relief from his suffering. In
similar fashion, Thoreau is also looking for an escape from his current state
of living. It reads, “I went to the woods because I wished to live
deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not
learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had
not lived, I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dead; nor did
I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.” In summary,
Thoreau is telling the reader that he is going to the woods to find out what
life truly is and escapes the monotony of his previous life so discover and
learn on his own from nature. Not only are these topics quite similar, but they
are also very different. Both Poe and Thoreau want to escape the misery that
they are currently living but one is more successful than the other. In “The
Raven” Poe is wallowing in his misery and not looking for a way out of it. He
does very little to cheer up and when a raven comes along saying ‘nevermore’ he
completely loses his mind and spirals deeper and deeper into his self-pity. On
the contrary, in Walden Thoreau tries to actually escape what he is living in
and is successful. Throughout his story, he leads the reader through his
journey of digging his cellar to the building materials he uses to even the
cost and how he paid for it. He also shares lessons that he has learns from his
time in the woods with the readers so that they may also understand these
lessons from nature. ________The final difference between the two is that they
are both bound by different ideas and concepts. In “The Raven” he is bound by
his misery and sadness for the loss of Lenore. In the poem, it declares, “Ah,
distinctly I remember it was in the bleak of December And each separate dying
ember wrought int ghost upon the floor. Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I
had sought to borrow From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost
Lenore- For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore- Nameless
here evermore.” Poe lost the love of his life Lenore and because of his loss he
spends the rest of his days thinking of Lenore and missing her. He is bound by
his love for his lost Lenore. In Walden by Thoreau, Thoreau feels bound by
something that was not love, he felt bound by society. He thinks he has already
learned all that he could from society and everyone around him, so he took to
the great outdoors to find a greater meaning to life. He wanted to learn
lessons that only nature could teach him.One major point of
similarities and differences between “The Raven” by Poe and Walden by Thoreau
is that they both speak of the supernatural in their passages. To start with a
difference in “The Raven” the main supernatural figure that it speaks of is
God. Poe exclaims, “‘Prophet!’ and I, ‘thing of evil- prophet still, if bird or
devil! By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore'”.
Throughout the poem, Poe brings up God many times and speaks of him as if he
believes in him. However, in Walden Thoreau speaks mainly of Greek stories and
tragedies. At one point in “Brute Neighbors,” he composes, “Whose mother had
charged him to return with his shield or upon it. Or perchance he was some
Achilles, who had nourished his wrath apart, and had now come to avenge or
rescue his Patroclus” while watching an ant fight. Achilles was a myth from
Ancient Greek writing where a baby was dipped into the river Styx resulting in
him having skin as iron. The quote from the passage is introducing a part of
the passage where Thoreau spoke of the Ancient Greek gods and myths. Both
passages also had some similarities, namely the fact that “The Raven” not only
speaks of the Christian God but also of the Greek Gods. He writes, “And the
Raven, never flitting, still sitting, still sitting On the pallid bust of
Pallas just above my chamber door;” In that fragment from the poem Poe is
talking about where the raven is sitting and it just so happens that the raven
is sitting on the bust of Athena Pallas, the goddess of wisdom. It is no
coincidence that the raven just so happened to be on the bust of the goddess of
wisdom. The narrator placed the raven there to symbolize that the raven might
be speaking wisdom about what is to come of Poe and what has already come of
his love Lenore. Both stories vary greatly in how they view animals. In “The
Raven” the raven is viewed as a supernatural being with a demonic countenance.
Poe exclaims in frustration, “‘Be that word or sign in parting, bird or fiend,’
I shrieked, upstarting- ‘Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s
Plutonian shore! Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath
spoken!'” Poe is now yelling at the raven, desperately telling it that it is a
fiend and that it should go back to night’s Plutonian shore. Pluto is the Roman
god of the underworld so when the raven is commanded to go back to Pluto’s
shore he is implying that the raven is from hell and is supernatural. Although
in Walden it speaks of many animals but never does it refer to those animals as
supernatural, set from god or even magical. In Walden it says, “In the fall the
loon (Colymbus glacialis) came, as usual, to moly and bathe in the pond, making
the woods ring with his wild laughter before I had risen.” Nothing summoned or
called the loon from anywhere. The loon came to Walden Pond as it does every
year with nothing magical, special or supernatural about it unlike that of the
raven from “The Raven”. There are many similarities and differences between
“The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe and Walden by Henry David Thoreau on the matter
of the supernatural.Not only are there many
similarities and differences between the interests in the supernatural, but there
are many between their uses of the five senses to influence how the reader
feels and thinks about what is happening. One similarity that is shown between
the two stories is that they both use imagery and the sense of sight to
heighten their individual situations. In stanza eight of “The Raven” it
relates, “By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore… And his
eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming And the lamplight o’er
him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;” That quote from “The Raven” is
describing the raven as dark and stern with eyes that seem like a demon’s. The
description of the raven appeals to the sense of sight and makes the reader see
a dark and scary raven which can make a reader nervous and on edge of what is
about to happen next. Similarly, in Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Thoreau is
describing a war between some ants and uses many words that appeal to our sense
of sight to make the story become more intense. He observes in his chapter
“Brute Neighbors”, “I saw that, though he was assiduously gnawing at the near
foreleg of his enemy, having severed his remaining feeler, his own breast was
all torn away exposing what vitals he had there to the jaws of the black
warrior, whose breastplate was apparently too thick for him to pierce; and the
dark carbuncles of the sufferer’s eyes shone with ferocity such as war only
could excite.” He spoke of the carnage that he saw before him in great detail
so that those reading his story could picture exactly what he was seeing. Many
readers will be drawn in and engaged to see what will become of the ants later
on in the passage. Although the stories have many similarities they are also
different in many ways in the way that they use the five senses. One of those
differences is that they use the reader’s sense of sound to make the readers
feel different things. In “The Raven” Poe uses the sense of sound to make the
reader feel a sense of urgency and nervousness for what is coming up. Poe has
the raven repeatedly say “Nevermore” which makes the narrator gain a greater
sense of uneasiness and more flustered which in correlation makes the reader
also feel a greater sense of uneasiness. In variance, Walden uses sound to make
the mood light and more playful. In “Brute Neighbors” Thoreau is in a boat on
the pond and a loon comes by. He tries to catch the loon but the loon is always
dodging him and going different ways. It would dive under the water and Thoreau
would try to paddle over to where he believes it will show up again. Even with
his great thought about where it would pop up again the loon would show up in a
different place. Thoreau wrote near the end of “Brute Neighbors”, “having
looked in vain over the pond for a loon, suddenly one, sailing out from the
shore towards the middle a few rods in front of me, set up his wild laugh and
betrayed himself.” Thoreau speaks of the laugh multiple more times referring to
is everything from wild to unearthly to demonic. The laugh helps the reader
picture the game that he is playing with the loon and how the loon is
surprising Thoreau and is popping up all over the water tricking him. Another
similarity between “The Raven” and Walden is that they both use imagery to
bring situations to life in the readers mind. Poe wrote, “I wheeled a cushioned
seat in front of bird, and bust and door; Then upon the velvet sinking, I
betook myself to linking Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of
yore- What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird” The way Poe
uses his words helps the reader visualize what is actually happening in the
scene. They can see the bird on the bust in front of the purple. They can see
the bird and how dark and ominous it seems for them. Likewise Thoreau uses
imagery and very descriptive words to help the reader understand what is
happening in the story. He goes into great detail to describe his house and how
he built it. Thoreau spoke into great detail about the digging of the cellar,
how he paid for everything, and what supplies he used to build his new house.
They both use great detail and descriptive words to help their stories come to
life in reader’s minds. DN

“The Raven” by Poe and
Walden by Thoreau are both classic pieces of literature written in the Age of
American Romanticism. They both share different ideas on life and the world
around them namely their concern for individual freedom, interest in the
supernatural, and use of the five senses. They had many strong similarities
between the two and many strong differences. The greatest similarity between
the two was their desire for a change for the better in both of their lives.
The greatest dissimilarity between the two is how in Walden imagery is used to
create a happy playful mood while in “The Raven” it is supposed to scare the
reader and to put them on edge.  The
similarities between these two wonderful works of literature have proven a
greater strength than that of the similarities showing that maybe the
anti-transcendentalists and –transcendentalists were not that different after
all.

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