Compare and Contrast the Concept Term Paper

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nature in American literature, from earliest writings to the Civil War period. It is my purpose to outline the connection between spirituality, freedom and nature and explain how American writers have chosen to reflect and interpret these themes in relation to their historical realities.

At the beginning of the colonization process there were two congruent depictions of nature. Initially, the tribes comprising The Iroquois League lived in close contact with nature and believed in the importance of maintaining a harmonious relationship with it. In this respect, the Iroquois Constitution imposes a devout display of gratitude to all by-human elements of the world before the opening of any council. On the other hand, the early explorers and founders of the United States perceived an immense natural potential in the country. In this sense, Thomas Hariot describes the New World as a land of wealth, his words and images aimed both at inspiring potential English investors and settlers and endowing them with practical information required for survival.

Notwithstanding nature's practical functions, Nathaniel Hawthorne captures in his story Young Goodman Brown the American Puritan sentiment of fear in the face of
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wild, untamed nature, and possibly suggests that from a point-of-view nature corrupts morals, ends innocence and leads away from God (Barna, 2001).

Jonathan Edwards takes on a profoundly Christian interpretation of nature, portraying it as a splendid example of God's majesty and a repetition of His image. However, the author claims that God and Nature remain two distinct notions, with God as the superior entity who cannot be identified with His creations. The place destined for nature in the major creational design is that of an illustrative mediator, a conductor which serves the purpose of communicating divine knowledge to human beings. Also, Edwards' nature is the equivalent of a stage designated for the continuous unfolding of divine mysteries, comprised of various cycles that join with the Holy Bible in celebrating and commemorating Jesus Christ's resurrection.

An interesting direction can be traced from Thomas Paine to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apparently, these two authors employ very distinct means of reaching God, Reason and Nature. Nevertheless, in their writings, these prerogatives bear identical meaning as tools for comprehending inexplicable phenomena. In this light, Emerson's and Paine's distrust of miracles justifies a shared necessity to personally experience God's natural world in order to validate their faith (Webb, 2006).

It might be relevant to observe that Ralph Waldo Emerson championed the transcendental literary…

Sources Used in Documents:


Barna, Mark. (2001, May) Our Romance with Nature. The World and I, Vol.16, No.5

Webb, J. Echoes of Paine: Tracing the Age of Reason through the Writings of Emerson (2006). ATQ (The American Transcendental Quarterly), Vol. 20, No.3

Whicher, G.F. (1945) Walden Revisited: A Centennial Tribute to Henry David Thoreau. Chicago: Packard

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