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Two Common Purposes of American Literature

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  1. Introduction
  2. The 18th century Neoclassical period
  3. The Romantic period of the 19th century
  4. Poe's short stories
  5. Conclusion

Two common purposes of early American literature are didacticism and introspection, and a minor purpose is entertainment. Most works written in this time period fulfill one of these purposes, and many fulfill more than one. Works from Franklin, Rowson, and Emerson can be labeled as mostly didactic, those of Bradstreet and Bryant introspective, and those of Irving and Poe entertaining.
Anne Bradstreet's ?The Prologue? and ?Contemplations? are both mainly introspective works. ?The Prologue? explores Bradstreet's own talent and will to write poetry, along with her resentment that her poetry will not be appreciated because she is a woman. ?For such despite they cast on female wits:/ If what I do prove well, it won't advance, / They'll say it's stolen, or else it was by chance,? she writes (248). Her ?Contemplations?, as the name implies, is also introspective in that it explores her thoughts on nature, religion, and humankind.

[...] consider'd it a proper Vehicle for conveying Instruction among the common People,? he wrote (587). Indeed, both of these works by Benjamin Franklin were primarily didactic. Also written in the 18th century, Susanna Rowson's Charlotte Temple is also primarily didactic, although, personally, I found it quite entertaining, also. This fictional biography, as Rowson makes incredibly clear, was intended to warn young and thoughtless of the fair of various and unexpected evils that attend a young and unprotected woman in her first entrance into life? (851). [...]


[...] Two Common Purposes of American Literature Two common purposes of early American literature are didacticism and introspection, and a minor purpose is entertainment. Most works written in this time period fulfill one of these purposes, and many fulfill more than one. Works from Franklin, Rowson, and Emerson can be labeled as mostly didactic, those of Bradstreet and Bryant introspective, and those of Irving and Poe entertaining. Anne Bradstreet's Prologue? and ?Contemplations? are both mainly introspective works. Prologue? explores Bradstreet's own talent and will to write poetry, along with her resentment that her poetry will not be appreciated because she is a woman. [...]

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