"From the first day that the United States won its independance, thoughtful Americans have attempted to define the new national identity" that decolonization invited. Becoming an independant political nation forced citizens to suddenly devise a "community and character" (Finkelman, 63) worthy of this newborn America. It was believed that, once free from Birtish fetters, a unique American character would emerge automatically. But this was not so, and it was left up to the artits, politictians, scientists, businessmen and women, and every other citizen to contrive the American identity. Those who were most accomplished at scrutinizing the American identity and what it was, were the many authors and writers of the 19th century.
One of the writers struggling to supply the "demand for American characters and American themes" (Milne, 145) was Edgar Allan Poe, born in 1809. Poe lived in many cities, including Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. He is most famous for his detective and horror stories, and inside these prominent tales lay the elucidation of the American identity. In his stories, Poe pursues the clarification and communication of the transition from an European based society towards a unique American disposition by creating a double consiousness, one representing European values and the other American values. [journey showing from euro to transition to american readers acan clearly see the struggel in poes writings or hw he transitions from euro tp american voice]
Before and after independance, Americans relied heavily on the British and their influences. These influences, such as the values and morals of Victorian society, could be seen in the northern cities as well as the southern argicultural communities. Those who first colonized the Americas were mostly British nobles, who brought with them not only their posessions, but also their manner of being. This manner includes the European drive for a higher position in society, a need to act properly and respectfully.
Before the industrial revolution began to grab hold of America, the upper class ruled the cities and major towns. This upper class thrived on being just like their British ancestors, and with family money, they were able to buy the most expensive clothes and homes to appear better than the rest of society. The slowly developing middle-class wished to be like these social elitists "and felt that acting 'properly,' according to the conventions and values of the time, was an important step in that direction" (Kirschen). These middle-class heroes earned their wealth through the new business industry emerging in America, eventually prevailing over the increasingly unpopular aristocratic traditions.
But those in the South continued to clutch the "European standards of aristocracy and inherited wealth" (Moss, 108). These people believed that if they were fashionable, they would be defined as the most privledged class in America (Moss, 106). This led to an increased...