Romantic Expression In The Raven By Edgar Allan Poe

1563 words - 6 pages

“Wine is bad as well as good”; it heightens the emotions of the drinker just as the emotional appeal of the writing during the Romantic Era were amplified (Hamilton 72). Any literary era must follow a literary concept of either Apollonian or Dionysian dichotomy. Under Apollonian, literature embodies Apollo, the God of the Sun, who represents order and reason (30). Under Dionysian, literature embodies Dionysus, the God of Wine, who represents the contradictory ideas of “ecstatic joy and of savage brutality” (68). The Romantic Era followed the belief that the world is not bounded by reason; thus, the world is chaotic. Additionally, romantics focus on the emotions they expressed in their writing. Therefore, the Romantic Era is strictly Dionysian in nature. Due to the Romantic Era’s major beliefs in the supernatural mystery of nature, personal expression, and its catharsis, the era correlates itself to the Dionysian ideology.
Romantics perceive nature as inherently good and not being bound by reason. However, they also understood that nature is chaotic in its actions. Dionysus is the god of the harvest; thus, he can be directly associated with the patterns of nature (Hamilton 56). Just as the perception of nature is envisioned differently, it is due to Dionysus also being the god of wine. “Wine could be kind and beneficent” or cruel and drive people to terrible deeds (67). The chaotic nature of wine is responsible for the chaotic actions of nature. In “The Devil and Tom Walker” Washington Irving narrates the life of Tom Walker, an anti-hero, who makes a deal with the devil for riches. Irving uses detailed descriptions of the settings to express the changes of Tom Walker. Irving’s detailed description of “the foliage of which formed a contrast to the dark pines and hemlocks of the swamp” creates a gothic setting to further his depiction of the main character (Irving 243). The environment in the short story acts as an extra narrator, adding emotional elements to the story. The use of nature as emotional expression further explains how Dionysus’s control of nature is chaotic. Furthermore, Irving connects nature and the supernatural to communicate his thoughts on society. Whenever Irving introduces the supernatural devil, he focuses on detailing the setting. The setting on the interaction with the devil expresses the changes in the character of Tom Walker. The association with the devil and Tom Walker conveys Irving’s outlook on the people like Walker. Irving looks down on brokers, the occupation Walker promised the devil he would do (247). The usage of the supernatural in literature gave romantics an opportunity to express their personal beliefs. Though the supernatural motifs could be seen as dreamlike, an Apollonian attribute, the gothic nature of the supernatural confirms its connection with Dionysian ideology. The Romantic Era’s perception of nature along with its supernatural relations represents the emotional and...

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