An Analysis Of The Explorer By Gwendolyn Brooks And Frederick Douglass By Robert Hayden From Both Archetypal And Social Perspectives

1396 words - 6 pages

“Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute, / Not always bend to some more subtle brute; / We were not made eternally to weep.” (Cullen) A majority of the African American culture had been enslaved in the South until the Civil War. After the end of slavery, the emancipated group began to strive for political equality, beginning the first in a long series of events that would ultimately end in the Harlem Renaissance, the period of time when a large majority of African American’s moved to the urban areas of the Northeast and Midwest United States. From the very beginning there was a notable difference between the black neighborhoods and the white neighborhoods, and this difference sparked an incredulous influx of literature and art. This material was often times reflections of both universal human longings as well as direct portrayals of the African American Community. Gwendolyn Brooks’ text The Explorer and Robert Hayden’s text Frederick Douglass are reflections of both the archetypal idea of universal human want, and the social interpretation of strictly African American culture.
The social view of The Explorer allows for a very vast look into the lives of African American’s living in urban areas in the mid twentieth century. There was, and still is, a very distinct cultural separation between the lives of the colored and white communities within the United States. This separation is so great in fact, that the two communities lead lives that were almost polar opposites during this time period. Andrew Wiese describes this development best when he states “Race and class emerged in the form of devastating material and spatial inequality – differences marked on bodies and inscribed in the land: sun-leathered skin and bent postures, decrepit housing, substandard schools, and shorter lives.” (Wiese) This separation is very clearly mirrored within Brooks’ text. From the very first line it is made prevalent that this text is describing the conditions of the African American community on a very universal and personal level. “So tipping down the scrambled halls he set / Vague hands on throbbing knobs. There were behind / Only spiraling, high human voices, / the scream of nervous affairs. . .” (Explorer, 1064) It was normally the case with African American urban areas during this time period that apartment complexes were overcrowding and loud, leading to conditions identical to the ones that The Explorer describes, and these conditions were almost completely exclusive to the black community.

The archetypal analysis of Gwendolyn Brooks’ text The Explorer makes clear the basic human need for peace in the commotion. At first glance, this text seems a little confusing, and is open to multiple interpretations through multiple critical lenses. When looking at this text from the archetypal perspective, it almost immediately becomes clear that the text is expressing a general human desire for finding some form of peace in a world full of commotion. The...

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