American Identity : The American Spirit With A Sense Of Progressive Identity

1556 Words Dec 6th, 2016 7 Pages
After gaining independence, the United States of America searched desperately for its own distinctly American identity. The pioneers of this new identity and spokespersons to the world emerged from a class of Romantic writers who examined the current mood of the American people and urged them to pave a new way of existence. The country, however, seemed to be growing further apart rather than coming together as a unified whole. This complicated American landscape created a dire need to define what it meant to be an American. Despite conflicting perspectives on the innate qualities of humanity, both Transcendentalists and Dark Romantics struggled to overcome the contradiction of a coherent American identity with the ideal of individualism. Free from the ties of English rule, Americans now waged a war against English influence. The Transcendentalist movement invigorated the American spirit with a sense of progressive optimism for the future of the country and the direction towards which it should move. The image of American literature in the world context however failed to capture this new identity. Ralph Waldo Emerson reflects on the indistinct, unrenowned literary reputation arguing, “We have listened too long to the courtly muses of Europe. The spirit of the American freeman is already suspected to be timid, imitative, tame.” (Emerson 256). His emphasis on being free highlights the right that Americans have to dictate their own life and emphasizes the multitude of…

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