10/24/12 – Swathi Satty

Today in seminar, we looked at the 19th century and a lot of the literature and music spoke about disassociation from land and a sense of nationalism because of the newly developed Bourgeoisie. This forced people to have to leave their habitat and go into the city to find work. With the rise of the Bourgeoisie, comes a much better standard of living. So there was more time to read books and enjoy music. People also started to question their purpose in live; the beginning of the concern of individualism. This is past the period of the enlightenment but people didn’t question the supremacy of the church but their role in society.

During this time, Mary Shelley came out with Frankenstein and the Grimm brothers who wrote the Grimm tales which shows the dark side that people can play in society. Towards the end of the century, is a new revolution, right after the civil war in U.S. People would earn their money in urban societies which places the stresses of capitalism on people’s shoulders. Victor Hugo wrote hunchback of Notre Dame during the end of the 19th century. This is the beginning of the movement towards realism which is shown in Henry James’s Washington Square. Walt Whitman uses realism and gives the readers his own unique perspective.  Crossing Brooklyn Ferry is an example of how Whitman uses this method when he takes something as common as traveling on the ferry and relates it to the future generation. Using his observations, he concludes that the future is not going to be much different than present day.

The emancipation of slavery shifts everything even more towards an urban lifestyle; slaves migrate towards the cities. Whitman elevates the glory of urban lifestyle in his poetry while showing the beauty of the farm side. His image is patriotic but through the perspective of a working class member in regards to both farm and industrial work.

In Crossing Brooklyn Ferry Whitman often uses different perspectives by personally connecting to the people in the ferry but then looking at people as a whole (looking into the clouds) which also shows his use of mixing realism with his own perspective. He uses repetition to tie the man made and nature made images that he sees to say that what is physically present at the time will be ever lasting because generations after will see and experience the same images. His use of repetition provides comfort and relates to the rhythm of the boat which rocks back and forth. As the boat keeps moving, life continues to keep the same rhythm in which even if generations pass, people will board on and off the boat. This shows that not much is going to change in the future.