American Literature's Impact on Society from 1800-2000

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  • Self Reliance

    Self Reliance
    In Self Reliance, transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson stresses the importance of relying on ones self for things like economics rather than being needy. This essay impacts society by encouraging the people to find more value in their inner self which transcendentalists found as key to happiness.
  • The Scarlet Letter

    The Scarlet Letter
    The dark romance, The Scarlet Letter, was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne who addresses the ironic criticism of the Puritan ministers during the seveteenth century. Although the novel was set two hundred years previous to the publication, it still impacted the society by altering the views of extreme criticism and again showing the conformity of society. When the outcasts one woman because of her sin yet ignore their own, the irony and conformity of society are portrayed.
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    In the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe addresses the incompatibility of slavery and Christian morals. This novel was published right before the Civil War broke out, and Abraham Lincoln even referred to Stowe as the “little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.” This novel impacted society by confirming their beliefs to either condemn slavery, or support it, and it split the nation into the Union and the Confederacy.
  • Moby Dick

    Moby Dick
    Antitranscendentalist Herman Melville uses his novel Moby Dick to show mankind's inability to understand the world. He portrays the the limits of knowledge that society can have and impacts society by showing the exploitative nature of whale hunting and the dark nature of antitranscendentalist had at the time.
  • Walden

    Henry Thoreau stresses how valuable simplicity is in his essays Walden. He shows how society as a whole had grown to be greedy, and that the only way to cure that is to either obtain more or decrease the number of "necessities". His essays impact society by showing that it is possible to live with only the fundamentals.
  • Leaves of Grass

    Leaves of Grass
    In his essays, Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman argues that democracy is a way to experience life at its fullest and that there is beauty in individuality. This impacts society by confirming all that they have based their lives around since American's love to uphold the tradition of freedom and individuality.
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
    The satirical novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, is set before the Civil War when slavery was still being practiced. Author, Mark Twain, addresses the irony of society during this time as the majority of white men and women chose to undermine African Americans and consider them property due to slavery. This controversial novel shows how society conforms to popular trends without thinking of the morality in it.
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

    The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    In the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson effectively portrays the dark side that humanity holds. As an antitranscendentalist Stevenson maintains the dark tone that antitranscendentalist are known for and displays not necessarily an ill of society, but a fault in humans as individuals. It impacts the society by causing them to look inwardly on their own character, and how it can affect society in the bigger picture.
  • The Awakening

    The Awakening
    In her novel The Awakening, Kate Chopin portrays a wife and mother unhappy with the way society stereotypes women. The prevailing attitudes of the nineteenth century for women were that they were meant to stay home, care for the children, and host parties with other families. This novel and feminist movements that sprang up at about the same time impacted society at the time as more women began to stand up for their rights.
  • Ethan Frome

    Ethan Frome
    The tragic, romantic novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton shows how society and morality hinder individuals from pursuing desire. This theme is also presented in The Scarlett Letter. It is a timeless argument and it impacts society by pointing out the social norms that are created from within and are hard to be broken.
  • The Great Gatsby

    The Great Gatsby
    F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays the decline of the American dream in his novel The Great Gatsby. His novel is set during the Roaring Twenties when extravagent expenditures were put off on credit and parties full of flappers were common. Fitzgerald depicts to society that this luxurious life can't go on forever, and he shows the reality of social classes. The novel impacts society by making reality clear since it had been covered up by people chasing the American dream and identity.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front

    All Quiet on the Western Front
    All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque shows problems of society during World War 1. During this time society looked at war as heroic and held parades honoring the young soldiers before they went to the battle fields in Europe. Remarque portrays the truth about war, and the grusome events the soldiers have to go through while they are there. This novel impacted society by showing them the reality of war, and ending the trend of romanticising it.
  • The Grapes of Wrath

    The Grapes of Wrath
    In the novel The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck addresses the issues of society during the Great Depression as many poor farmers were forced off their land in the Southern Plains by dust storms and tractors. Many of the farmers headed torwards the promise lands of California to find little oppurtunity and "Hoovervilles" in every town. Steinbeck shows the corruption of society at the time as greedy upperclassmen chose to trick farmers into working for unfair wages.
  • 1984

    In his novel 1984 George Orwell predicts that in the future by 1984 the nation would be taken over by an opposing power. He stresses the dangerous nature of totalitarianism and the detremental effects it could have on the future. This impacts society by practically warning them to stear clear of totalitarianism.
  • The Catcher in the Rye

    The Catcher in the Rye
    In his novel The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger shows how his main character does not want to venture on into his adulthood, but wants to dwell on his childhood. This parallels to society. It can be easy to dwell on the past, and blame other generations for the problems of the society's own time, but it is better to learn from the past and move on towards the future. This impacts society by showing them that blaming the past isn't necessary, but learning from it its.
  • The Crucible

    The Crucible
    The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is a tragedy set in the late seventeenth century during the Salem Witch Trials. The novel, although solely based onthe trials, was highly influenced by the Red Scare that was occuring during the time of publication. The novel portrays the hysteria during the witch trials that was repeating itself during the Red Scare. This novel impacted society by bringing to their attention the somewhat irrational fears that were brewing at the time.
  • Fahrenheit 451

    Fahrenheit 451
    In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury creates a society in his novel that is very focused on technology. He is trying to portray what he sees will happen in the future which is the world becoming subdued by the advancement on technology. This novel impacts society by showing an exaggerated, but substantial view of what their world could become if they don't focus on more than technology.
  • The Poisonwood Bible

    The Poisonwood Bible
    The novel Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver depicts that it is impossible to have complete justice around the world. This theme has held firm through out history in areas like slavery and prosperous nations in comparison to poverty stricken nations. This novel impacts society because it relates also to the uneven classes that develop in a society and how it can not always be just for everyone.