This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Essay On Language And Mores In Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

1185 words - 5 pages

Language and Mores in winesburg, ohio


Language and literature lead parallel lives. What changes most often and most dramatically is the language we use to describe events and feelings that are common to all times. Language shifts, stretches, adopts, and absorbs -- it drops antiquated terms and picks up a few new ones, and you don't have to look far to find novels and short stories grown stale from shaky, outdated prose, from too many neo-tropisms, catch-phrases, and slang with a short shelf-life. Literature, though inseparable from language, endures. Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio encapsulates both the changes that have swept up language from 1919 till the present, and the endurance of certain themes.


The question concerning language is, at heart, a question of mores: How do you talk about yourself and others? What are we allowed to say, and how? The question posed by literature is moral in nature, but it is phrased differently: What is it about myself and others? The constraints in literature reflect the constraints in language, but the former apply to morality, the latter to mores. Morality, broadly defined, refers to a sense of decency inherent in everyone. Mores refer to the set of constraints, a sort of value table, that a society has placed on itself and on its members.


Morality and literature have hardly changed -- their central concerns remain the same (man's place in the universe, death, love, everything in between). Mores and language have changed -- their central concerns have adapted to suit the shifting times. It's no surprise that morality often comes into conflict with mores (segregation was never moral, but it was, for a time, a more), and that literature often comes into conflict with language (Ulysses stands as a prime example, but any good book brushes knuckles with language). These are parallel tracks -- morality and literature, mores and language -- so things get confused sometimes, and literature comes into conflict with mores.


And it is very easy to get these two tracks confused. When readers called Winesburg, Ohio a morally offensive book, they meant it. It would not be fair to say that these readers failed to see that they were confusing mores with morals, that they lacked the necessary semantic tools to tell the difference, because in the real world mores and morals are tightly wrapped together. Our sense of what is right is indistinguishable from what is, in fact, right.


Readers carry this sense of right and wrong into literature. Oscar Wilde, in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, said that books were neither moral nor immoral -- they were either well written or poorly written. Vladimir Nabokov, in his Afterword to Lolita, improves on Wilde's formula by saying that any lasting work of literature is inherently moral. By these aphoristic definitions, Winesburg, Ohio proves both a lasting work of literature and an inherently moral cycle of short...

Find Another Essay On Essay on Language and Mores in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

Isolation in Winesburg Ohio and Death in The Woods

2325 words - 9 pages Isolation in Winesburg Ohio and Death in The Woods In 1919, Sherwood Anderson composed his work Winesburg Ohio, which depicts the inner lives of small-town America. Anderson’s fascination to explore what’s beneath the surface of human lives results in another story in 1933 called “Death In The Woods”. These two works, incidentally, share a common theme of isolation. The characters in these works, are portrayed as “grotesques” or

Comparing the Search in Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio

1561 words - 6 pages The Search for Truth in Plato's Allegory of the Cave and Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio    The novel Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson has many themes that present themselves throughout the book. One such recurring theme is a search for truth. The characters in the book do not fully realize that they are searching for truth, but they do feel a vague, "indescribable thing" that pushes and prods their minds to actualize a higher plane of

Character Analysis in Sherwood Anderson's "I'm A Fool"

576 words - 2 pages The character of the swipe in Sherwood Anderson's "I'm A Fool" reminds the reader of J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield -- a slightly unschooled youth seeking greatness through ordinary means. Headstrong and determined to make something of himself, Anderson's swipe could be any one of a million young men throughout the world. Driven by his desire to make himself feel like he has value, the swipe continually demonstrates a great deal of motivation

Growing up, an analysis of isolation in winesburg, ohio

2153 words - 9 pages who suffer from isolation and loneliness. Therefore I am going to analyse how isolation manifests itself within Sherwood Anderson's novel 'Winesburg, Ohio'. I will do so by showing how the characters from the book became so-called "grotesques" and by trying to define their failure of communication, resulting in isolation, followed by an outline of George Willard's relation to the people of 'Winesburg, Ohio'. Thirdly I want to follow George's

Comparison Of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" And "Winesburg, Ohio"

907 words - 4 pages "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and "Winesburg, Ohio" Both Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio provide great examples of community, although there are stark differences in the way the two respective authors present them. In Their Eyes Were Watching God, the main character Janie moves to the town of Eatonville, Florida with her second husband Jody Starks. The move was

Water and Air Pollution Analysis - This is a short essay on pollution issues in Dayton, Ohio

544 words - 2 pages Ohio is ranked as one of the worst states on air pollution. It remains a serious public health problem for the Greater Dayton area. In 2005 there was 19 days of unhealthy levels of ozone, or smog. Ozone has proved to be a public health problem; asthma attacks amongst children, increased emergency room visits and has also been linked to many premature deaths.There are eight counties in the Dayton area that has failed to meet the federal health

“Discovery of a Father” by Sherwood Anderson and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden - Hollywood High School and AP English Language and Composition - Essay

434 words - 2 pages Uncovered Love In “Discovery of a Father” by Sherwood Anderson and “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, both sons do not approve of their father's’ actions, but begin to appreciate them later on. In the beginning as young boys, both of the sons are lacking the appreciation for their fathers. In “Discovery of a Father”, Anderson does not like the fact that his father is a storyteller and how his father would lie about his nationality. For

Essay on Nonsense Language in Carroll's Jabberwocky

1053 words - 4 pages (portmanteau) into one word to compose those weird sounds and words in the poem. In a unique way the meaningless words combine with recognizable words to create a poem almost comprehensible. The language and sounds allow a reader to reflect back on the concept of how to communicate Carroll's theme of survial of the fittest, and besides the battle between animals, Carroll creates a battle for the reader to understand the language and sounds

Essay on the Failure of Language in Malcolm and On the Road

1708 words - 7 pages The Failure of Language in Malcolm and On the Road        John Clellon Holmes in his essay "The Philosophy of the Beat Generation" characterized his young contemporaries as deeply spiritual; to him, the very eccentricity of the fifties with their characteristic sexual promiscuity, drug addiction, petty criminality, and heterodox forms of self-expression was an attempt to assert one's individuality in the atmosphere of pervasive conformity

Comparing Thomas Mores Utopia and Machiavelli’s The Prince - Macquarie University Politics - Essay

1828 words - 8 pages Thomas More’s Utopia and Machiavelli’s The Prince are both concerned with the  fundamental issues of how society works in hand with virtue in order to maintain itself. The goals behind the two works, however, differ considerably. The aim of Utopia is to exemplify the maintenance of a perfect society (More 1516, p. 32) and the goal of The Prince is to instruct a prince, or ruler, on how to sustain his state (Machiavelli 1532, Chapter 16). From

Essay on Imagery, Language, and Sound in What's That Smell in the Kitchen?

1029 words - 4 pages Imagery, Language, and Sound in What's That Smell in the Kitchen?         Marge Piercy is an American novelist, essayist, and poet best known for writing with a trademark feminist slant. In "What's That Smell in the Kitchen?" Marge Piercy explores the way women are sometimes held in low esteem by men through the eyes of a tired housewife who has had it with her monotonous day- to-day duties. In this

Similar Essays

The Synecdochic Motif In Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio

1928 words - 8 pages hand. In two words she voiced what everyone felt" (152).   Works Cited and Consulted Anderson, David D. "Sherwood Anderson's Moments of Insight." Critical Essays on Sherwood Anderson. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1981. 155-170. Anderson, Sherwood. Winesburg, Ohio. New York: Norton, 1996. Burbank, Rex. Sherwood Anderson. New Haven: Twayne, 1964. Walcutt, Charles Child. "Sherwood Anderson: Impressionism and the Buried Life." The Achievement of Sherwood Anderson. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1966. 158-170. White, Ray Lewis. Winesburg, Ohio: An Exploration. Boston: Twayne, 1990.  

Analysis Of Sherwood Anderson's "Winesburg Ohio"

1859 words - 7 pages authors.Anderson was born on September 13, 1876, in Camden, Ohio. His fathers business was unsuccessful throughout much of Sherwood's childhood, causing the family to travel often. A permanent home was not established until 1884 when the Anderson family moved to the small farming town of Clyde ("Winesburg, Ohio"). Their father's unemployment left heavy economic responsibilities on young Sherwood and the other children. Anderson took on many small

Perceptions Of The World In Winesburg, Ohio By Sherwood Anderson

1218 words - 5 pages Psychoneurosis Leading to Isolation in “Winesburg, Ohio” There are people who do not wish to communicate with those around them, or simply do not feel they can. In the novel Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, every character visited has their own perception of the world around them, and what life should be like which is often a far from the truth. Their psychoneurosis is brought about because of the isolation in the small town

Lonliness In Winesburg, Ohio Essay

546 words - 2 pages Loneliness. Everyone experiences it at some point, along with the need to be accepted for who they are. People make decisions and act based on the fear of being alone. The characters in Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg Ohio are no different. As the reader glimpses into the loosely woven lives, he can see a young girl rush into a marriage to escape loneliness, only to feel alone anyway. Or he can see an old man who lives in fear of himself reach out