The Hypocrisy Of Civility English Literature Essay

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In the relatively short time of the existence of the United States, society has allowed the written word to seep into our everyday existence. What has been written forms our everyday lives; our country, democracy, freedom, laws, religions, news, stories, and our history that is passed on through generations. Much of the written word has found its way to be presented in rather elegant form, but not always so in subject matter. Throughout the history of America, the views of civility and civilized society have changed through times of progress, conflict and peace. Perception of ideals has shifted, political correctness has emerged, and cultural rules have changed. The literature of America reflects the hypocrisy of civilized society and uncovers truths that need to be told and that want to be heard.

In as much as the Puritans used the bible and the Word of their God to rationalize society's treatment of African Americans as slaves, Sewall uses the bible and quotes it directly to show that their God certainly does not agree with the mistreatment of any human. Sewell argues that in the common man's belief of Adam and Eve, that all men were heirs of the couple who fell from grace with temptation and gained their liberty, for better or worse. All heirs were entitled as equals to Adam and Eve. The gift of liberty was violated by the sale of Joseph by his brothers. (Amacher 13) God's word in Exodus 21:16 supported this argument; This Law being of Everlasting Equity, wherein Man Stealing is ranked amongst the most atrocious of Capital Crimes. (Amacher 13) (Sewell 2)

Henry Lodge Cabot speaks of the true meaning behind the words of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, in his essay titled the Democracy of Abraham Lincoln. Cabot explains his opinion about Lincoln's idea concerning the government of the people. It is a government made up the citizens (the people) and its purpose is for governing of the people. The constitution is shown to be a continual pillar in our country which has remained basically the same since the foundation of our nation. There have been some changes to the Constitution, such as three war time amendments, and the establishment of the income tax. The paper continues to state that Lincoln stated his opinion so clearly that there was no escape from its meaning.

This desirable state of affairs where one could actually read the moral law directly for oneself was called "self-reliance" by a young Unitarian minister named Ralph Waldo Emerson. By this he meant that you should learn to rely on the deepest powers within yourself to discern the higher law, to know what is right. It turns out that Emerson's notion of self-reliance (of reading the moral law directly for oneself) had far-reaching implications for Unitarianism, particularly its understanding of moral norms. After all, in the light of self-reliance, the Bible was seen for what it was: second-hand religion, a religion handed down from the past to us, from somebody else's original reading of the moral law long ago. So self-reliance undermined the exclusive authority of the Bible within Unitarianism. And it did more than that too. At the same time it also became clear that other religions had sacred texts and moral norms of their own that were very much like the Bible in the sense that they, too, were somebody else's reading of the moral law and were examples of the very thing that Emerson had said each person could learn to do for themselves. And so, over time, not just the Bible, but sacred texts from all of the world's religions, came to be honored among us as expressions of this universal human attempt to know what is right, and to do it.

The character of Huck battles with his conscience many times in trying to decide what would be the right thing to do. He fakes his death in order to save himself, yet, feels it could be the reason his father died. Huck struggles with Jim's status as a slave and if he should turn him in or not. Huck eventually decides to "go to Hell" and maintain his decision to break what is considered morally and legally wrong, and not turn Jim in; in fact, he protects Jim at every turn. Edwards feels that "Twain compellingly establishes the irony that Huck's "sin" against the social establishment affirms the best that is possible in the individual."

Within the novel, references are made to "code of Honor" with the Shepherdson boys, who live under the law of vendetta against the Grangerfords. There are also numerous references to "civilize". The Widow Douglass attempts to "Civilize" Huck, making him wear "fancies" on Sundays and act proper and sit up straight. She wanted to teach him religion, yet she ironically holds slaves. She seemingly does not hold herself to what even she feels is not wholly right; she will not have her slaves sold to anyone else because she cares for them very well and she would not have them sent to someone who would treat them as good as she.

Grant is of the opinion that "slavery provides Twain his largest metaphor for both social bondage and institutionalized injustice and inhumanity." He further feels that the novel is not an anti-slavery novel per say, but "rather than attacking an institution already legally dead, Twain uses the idea of slavery as a metaphor for all social bondage and injustice." The novel was published nearly thirteen years after the end of the civil war, yet opinions and perceptions on race were not yet settled.

Both Huck and Jim were literally and in perceptual slavery to the Widow Douglass. They both flee to begin a new life in a slave free state, yet cast off headed south on the Mississippi. Grant offered insight to the direction of the raft as "It is almost irrelevant that Twain has Huck and Jim running deeper into the South rather than north toward free soil. Freedom exists neither in the North nor in the South but in the ideal and idyllic world of the raft and river."

The raft and the River both play catalyst to the heart of the relationship of Huck and Jim. The two see themselves fleeing the same situations, in their minds. Both take risks for one another, and there are consequences of being caught for both Huck and Jim. Huck is perceived as an abolitionist, punishable by death. Jim is seen as the murderer of Huck, punishable by death. While each has their life on the line for the other, they sincerely protect each another, almost as father and son. They make stops along the river for supplies and rest, each stop bringing an adventure that sends them fleeing once again for the "sanctuary" of their raft. Grant considers "It is onshore that Huck encounters the worst excesses of which "the damned human race" is capable, but with each return to the raft comes a renewal of spiritual hope and idealism."

William E. Grants essay enforces the idea of Hypocrisy in Civilized Society. The novel brings situations of Slavery, Civility, rules and wrongs that many people of the 19th century simply did not want to hear about, speak of, or deal with. They would have to turn the mirror inward and have a good look at themselves, because most people simply followed the cultural rules, and did not speak out even if they thought something was wrong. Grant ends his essay of criticism of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with a most well written statement:

The Road Not Taken was written by Robert Frost. This poem characterizes an assertion of individualism. In Robert Frost's Tricky Poem, an analysis by Linda Sue Grimes, she states that Frost claims this poem was about his friend Edward Thomas. They [Frost and Thomas] would periodically go on walks in the woods near London. While they would be enjoying their walk they would come across two different roads to take. After choosing one road, rumor has it; Thomas would always wonder what was down the other road.

According to Grimes in Robert Frost's Tricky Poem, the first stanza is describing the situation, which was the dilemma of choosing one road over the other. The second stanza describes the road he decides to take. "Because it was grassy and wanted wear" he takes the road that is less traveled on, even though he stated that they were and were not exactly the same. The third stanza continuities to describe the roads, he notices the difference between the two. Such as the leaves were freshly fallen and both had not been walked on.  The forth stanza has tricky words, "I shall be telling this with a sigh" this can be interpreted as a relief or regret in the decision of the road he takes. Different interpretations can be identified after reading The Road Not Taken, such as views upon friendship or his future behind the road he taken and he experiences with a sigh.

In the beginning of the 20th century there was a strong focus on individuality and nature, as it offered an escape from focus of World War I. Various processes in industrialism were taking shape in the country and changing views of society. Frost's poetry served as a system check back to reality from the chaos of the times. As Grimes says;

In the relatively short time of the existence of the United States, society has allowed the written word to seep into our everyday existence. What has been written forms our everyday lives; our country, democracy, freedom, laws, religions, news, stories, and our history that is passed on through generations. Much of the written word has found its way to be presented in rather elegant form, but not always so in subject matter. Throughout the history of America, the views of civility and civilized society have changed through times of progress, conflict and peace. Perception of ideals has shifted, political correctness has emerged, and cultural rules have changed. The literature of America reflects the hypocrisy of civilized society and uncovers truths that need to be told and that want to be heard.

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