American Literature

Each answer should be between 300-500 words.

All work must be in MLA formatting. Please note that whenever you are referring to a source in your work, there should be in-text quotes (or paraphrases) from that source to support your assertions. These should be followed by parenthetical citations. Ensure there is a Works Cited citation at the end of the document.

Here are some tips on how to effectively respond to essay questions:
Get right to the point. Don’t rewrite the question!
Answer in specific terms, not in general.
When using examples, make sure that it is clear why you are using that particular example to answer the question.
When making general statements, be sure to follow them up with answers to questions such as who, what, why and how.
Avoid making all encompassing statements, such as using the words “all,” “every,” “no one,” etc. unless they are true.
Be prepared to defend every statement you make with recognized facts. For example, if you make a statement, follow it up with a quote from the text or other recognized authority or a specific example.

Choose one of the following questions to answer for Question 1:

Poe: What effect does the fear of death have on Poe’s characters in “The Premature Burial” and “The Masque of the Red Death?”

Hawthorne: Use the directives in Preface to The House of the Seven Gables to explain the writing style of “The Ambitious Guest.” For instance, Hawthorne hopes that he has not belabored the “sins of the father” moral of the novel. In “The Ambitious Guest,” the moral of ambition is not equally clear.

Melville: Melville often features males as his main characters. Referring to “Bartleby the Scrivener,” discuss what Melville is saying about the male population he saw. It might help to identify the opinions and traits of the narrator, Bartleby, Turkey, Nippers, and Ginger Nut. Each represents certain characteristics. Have these traits changed so much over time? Does every office seem to have one of each? What are some new traits you might be able to write into a new version of the story?

Question 2: Poe, Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson and Thoreau were actually among a fairly tight group. Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, and Melville all knew each other well; they were friends and neighbors. They knew well the works of Poe (who died in 1849); he in turn wrote about Emerson.  Although they all had their own individual style and vision, they influenced each other. Discuss the similarities and contrasts in these writers based on your understanding of the Romantic and Transcendentalist movements, the era, the authors, and the works themselves.

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