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Why was Melville so skeptical about the individual standing up independently against society?

Final Essay Topics: Light/Darkness. Party of Hope (Thoreau, Whitman, Douglass, Dickinson) vs. the Party of Doubt (Poe, Hawthorne, Douglass, Melville, Dickinson). Why is this writer optimistic or pessimistic (or divided) about American culture at this time? What is this writer responding to in his/her culture? Focus your essay on one writer. You may reference others if you choose to do so. (5 pages. 3 sources.)


Thoreau: Civil Disobedience, Walden. Focus your essay on Thoreau’s response to conformity and his belief in individualism and Transcendental thinking. Can an individual make a difference in a society in which “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”?

Whitman: Song of Myself, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, selections from Drum-Taps. Why did Whitman believe so strongly in the Union, despite the impending doom of the Civil War? How did he use Transcendental thinking to show his belief in himself and all others to follow him?

In Between: Which way seems most convincing?

Dickinson: selected poems. How did she create a society in her poetry? Why did she find salvation in nature and community? How do you understand her doubts about death?

Douglass: Narrative of the life. How did this writer use education to triumph over enslavement and take control of himself? What is the role of violence is his story? How does Douglass reveal the horrors of the system and yet his belief in himself?


Poe, selected stories. How did Poe’s stories reveal the darkness and complexities of the human mind at war with itself? Why was he reacting against the logic and order of the previous generation?

Hawthorne, selected stories (Young Goodman Brown, My Kinsman, Major Molineux). How does Hawthorne display the anxiety of the individual facing the community? What happens to his characters who seek to be self-reliant? How does sin alienate characters from others?

Melville, “Bartleby.” Why was Melville so skeptical about the individual standing up independently against society? How was self-reliance portrayed in this story? Is individuality a choice in a capitalistic culture?



–You may choose one of the writers or more and write about it!

–Does not need to be anithing really well done i just need a average papper!

–it has to be write in MLA format and instead of work cited page it can be a short bibliografy!

— Do not use to any fancy worlds


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