I Sit And Look Out By Walt Whitman

1056 words - 4 pages

Every historical period has its own hero of the time. It can be an active businessman or a sensitive aristocrat that fits the time best. In the poem I Sit and Look Out, Walt Whitman describes the horrors of the oppressive age he was living in. However, he does not try to change the situation and only "sits and look out". The question is whether being a spectator is enough to make the life of the oppressed better. The author is the mirror of the cruel 19th century reality, and this is a huge step towards democratization of the overall situation in the society. Even though such hero of the time does not fight for the rights of the oppressed, he makes the reading audience hear the lamenting choir of voices, who wait to be liberated.
I Sit and Look Out is closely connected with historical data about the situation in the American society in the end of the 19th century. The ideas of Darwinism and Social Darwinism became a scientific and philosophical basis for labor exploitation of black Americans by rising industrialists after the Civil War. It became a convenient explanation of the racist ideas that were popular in the second half of the 19th century.
According to Darwinist ideas, natural selection is the main issue that determines evolution. That means that only the strongest has the right to survive. Darwinism does not consider a human being to be a creation of God and does not take into account the inner desire of the person to grow. Social Darwinism takes the ideas of Darwinism about humans and animals in the wild nature, and applies them to specific social context. According to it, white Americans had a hereditary superiority over former black slaves, that is why they have the right to rule in the United States. In addition, Social Darwinist theories supposed that if there would become too many people in the world and there would not be enough food for them, the poor will have to die, because they are worse than the rich. The capitalistic reality that was actively developing in the late 19th century became a bright example that supported the idea that people are living in the tough wild world.
After the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, approximately 6 million of black Americans started moving from the South of the country to the more urbanized North (Forsyth 1997). Whitman writes: “I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all oppression and shame” (Whitman 1999). The slavery itself was a shame for a well-educated person, who understood that no one has the right to exploit another person, considering him/ her to be the human of a lower level.
The Northern states were more urbanized, comparing to the rural Southern part of the US, and so many African Americans moved there. They left their relatives in the South , because the wages were comparatively high in the North. Many families were broken. Whitman describes this situation in the following lines: “I see, in low life, the mother misused by her children, dying,...

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