Free «Romanticism and Transcendentalism» Essay

Romanticism and Transcendentalism

The role of race and gender in “Desiree’s Baby” cannot be underestimated. First of all, it becomes clear from the story that Desiree, as a woman, is inferior to her husband and must obey him, even if he is wrong. That is why she takes the child and leaves Armand when he tells her that he really wants her to go. What makes Armand hate Desiree and their baby is the boy’s skin color: he is not white. The fact that being a black is intolerable, shameful, and humiliating can be proved by the following lines from the story, when Desiree realizes that her son is a quadroon: “The blood turned like ice in her veins, and clammy moisture gathered upon her face…She stood motionless, with her face the picture of fright” (Chopin). Although Armand perfectly knows that his wife is white, he dares to accuse her of their child’s yellow skin color. Thus, Desiree, who is really a white woman with grey eyes and a skin fairer than Armand’s, is labeled as an outcast for her imaginary Black origin. Although at the end Armand finds out that “his mother belongs to the race that is cursed with the brand of slavery” and, thus, theoretically, changes the roles with his wife, it is hard to say whether it is really so since the story ends and the reader does not know the further development of actions. However, it can be assumed that Armand is shocked at his discovery, feels remorse of conscience for his unjust behavior, and, consequently, becomes inferior to his innocent wife.     

On the one hand, in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” the protagonist is the narrator, who is describing how he has killed his victim, the antagonist – the old man. On the other hand, it can be claimed that the narrator is both the protagonist and antagonist, since he is in a constant inner struggle: he fervently tries to prove himself and the reader that he is not mad. Although the protagonist loved his victim, he got obsessed with the old man’s eye – “all a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the very marrow in my bones” – and decided to kill him. Throughout the story, the narrator acted very wisely and cautiously, patiently waiting for a long time and scarcely breathing. Finally, when he heard the man’s heart beat so loudly that a neighbor could hear, he “dragged him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over him” (Poe). Having dismembered the corpse, he hid all the parts under the planks. This is how the conflict was resolved. However, his psyche could not stand the remorse of conscience, and he began to hear the beating of the dead man’s heart and confessed the deed to the police officers.

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Fortunately, I had several experiences with nature that transported me as Emerson describes. The first time when I felt that I merged with nature was during my hiking in the mountains. When I climbed the highest peak and looked up and down, I could not but feel myself closer to the clouds and another world, different from the earthy one. Besides, I felt as if I possessed a certain kind of power, which I did not even know or felt before. Without fear to say it, I felt as an all-mighty creature soaring in the clouds. Most likely, I believed that “my soul was part of the Oversoul or universal spirit to which it and other souls return at death” (White-Stanley, 2004). I guess that this feeling was caused by the proximity of clouds since the peak was 2000 meters high.  There is no wonder that I did not want to descend again into the earthy world.

The second time I had the same feeling was when I was flying across the Atlantic Ocean at the height of ten thousand meters. Like in the first case, I felt I was soaring over the ocean, and this feeling was incredible. In this case, however, the feeling was easier to describe since I was really flying over the ocean on board the plane. Luckily, my physiological responses to such experiences were quite normal; at first, I felt dizzy but this feeling passed as soon as I reached the peak of the mountain and the plane reached the maximum height. I felt free from all the petty troubles of human life and completely merged both with the air and ocean. It seems to me that I, like transcendentalists, “have transcended the lower animalistic impulses of life (animal drives) and moved from the rational to a spiritual realm” (White-Stanley, 2004).

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