Romanticism during American Renaissance
Washington Irvin’s work, The Devil and Tom Walker, contains different romanticism elements. The story reveals the dark side of the human nature. Tom Walker and his wife are both evil, and this is clear in the way they treat each other. Tom does not care for his horse, and does not feed his household well. His wife does not care. She would rather see him trade his soul to the devil in exchange for wealth. Tom’s greedy nature is revealed when he decides to lose his own soul to the devil. It is further enhanced by his decision to charge people higher rates than they can afford to pay once he becomes a moneylender. Tom and his wife live a miserable life, and are always arguing with each other. They cheat each other, and they do not care for one another’s welfare. Romanticism stressed the idea of individualism. Tom’s wife hides whatever she lays her hands on. Irvin writes, “A hen could not cackle, but she was on the alert to secure the new-laid egg.” On the other hand, Tom is always looking through his wife’s secret stash. They do not care for each other. They both seek how they will benefit individually. No smoke comes from their chimney, and this shows that they do not cook. This is despite the fact that Tom’s wife is always ready to collect the hen’s eggs.
Romanticism emphasized feelings and imagination over fact and reason. This is clear from the story’s plot. The story deals with an imagined event that borders towards the supernatural. It involves human beings conversing and making deals with the devil. This is an imagined situation, which may be hard to prove. The author includes the story of Kidd the pirate, who had buried his treasure on the ground. This story is a myth, which has been passed down for many generations. There was much emphasis on nature during the romantic period. This is clearly seen in the story. There is the mention of the trees, the sacred forest, and the swamp, all of which are natural elements. The trees in the story are symbolic of people. Although they may appear well and good looking on the outside, they are evil and rotten on the inside because of the evil actions they do.
Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of Young Goodman Brown who goes on a journey of self-exploration. Although it is not clear whether the events that have happened to him are a dream, Brown ends up learning more about himself and the people around him. His adamant belief in the love for his wife and the faith he holds in his God, guides the decisions he makes. There is much emphasis on feelings in the story. Brown is guided by the love he has for his wife. The story requires the readers’ imagination as it deals with supernatural events. Hawthorne mentions witches and the devil. He shows how people relate with the devil as they make deals with him. There was much emphasis on nature and the dark side of it during the romantic period. The story takes place in a natural setting. Brown takes his journey through a dark path with tall trees that darken the forest. The forest grows darker, and he hears the creaking trees and the howls of the wild beasts. He hears the wind and the forest laughing at him and everything surrounding him seems to have gone against him.
The name of Brown’s wife is symbolic. By going on his journey and leaving his wife, brown symbolizes that he is leaving behind his faith. When he meets with the man in the forest, Brown says, “Faith kept me back a while.” It is clear that he does not want to take this journey. He understands that it is evil and that doing so would be compromising his beliefs. Brown thinks that he has heard his wife in the forest, and he says, “My Faith is gone.” From that time, he loses the trust he has on humanity, and he no longer has faith in anyone or anything. The ribbons on Faith’s hat are symbolic. On one hand, they represent her innocence and purity. Pink is a combination of two different colors, red and white. They are different in that red is often a symbol of danger, while white is a symbol of innocence. This could mean the contrasting nature of Brown’s wife. She appears innocent and unknowledgeable on the surface. However, Brown learns that she is the other convert.