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Essay Paper on Literature and It's Effect on Society

All throughout American history, literature has played an important role in the shaping of the nation’s culture and ideology. Having an extremely influential past, literature indirectly affects the television world that has swept over the minds of the baby boomers and their offspring. In a recent survey compiled by students at Glacier Bay High School, there were unanimous results that supported the fact that television was America’s favorite form of entertainment, yet literature could possibly be the most beneficial. The roots of literary influence are imbedded in the very being of the nation and the citizens that call it their home. Through the bold and brilliant work of many influential authors, literature has dramatically dominated the minds and hearts of an ever-changing American culture.

Some of the earliest forms of literature are the myths that have been passed down through history. Myths directly represent the culture and time period from which they were born. Ideological meanings can be assigned to history through the myths that evolved from a particular society. Present day politics has its roots in the mythology that was passed down through Greek and Roman culture.

The myth is the primary language of historical memory. The demonstration of the influence mythology has had on times gone by and the present is a perfect example of the powerful affect that fictitious words can have on a group of people. As the new world was found and the nation was settled, literature has had an enormous impact on colonial style, which influenced the newly born Americans and the Europeans still living in the old world. Writers of the eighteenth century had two primary legacies: the romantic revolution and the historical texts, which included histories, sermons, pamphlets, diaries, and biographies.

With the birth of a new nation evolved a new American literary history, and the words of Henry Adams say it best: “The old formulas had failed, and a new one had yet to be made, but, after all, the object was not extravagant or eccentric. One sought no absolute truth. One sought only a spool on which to wind the thread of history without breaking it.

The American literary revolution was strictly for expressing the feelings and ideals of a courageous people that were tired of confinement within the ideals of society. The authors that would be born out of the revolution would portray the hearts of the citizens; the popularity of literature grew because the message of it was for every man and the impact it had on society was greater than ever before. The political and social ideals of the day sprang not from a political leader, but from the writings that represented the internal value system of the people. Through the masterful works of many American authors, the way people believed, thought, and felt was changed. From the politics of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne to the sentimental power of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the message of freedom to think and feel the way one desired screamed off every page. Two men that had a dramatic affect on society were Edgar Alan Poe and Herman Melville. The poetry of Poe, specifically through the example of “The Man in the Crowd,” inspired people to think more intellectually about their lives and their external circumstances…

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