Post 1: You learned the definition of the American Dream in Week 1. You also learned about the American identity. Traits often associated with the American identity include boldness, confidence, perseverance, and integrity. These traits are often demonstrated through a character’s words or actions. This week, we’ll focus on integrity. For this discussion, use any of the Week 4 readings except for “Woman Hollering Creek” and describe how two of the characters display strong moral principles
Posts 2 and 3: Respond to a classmate. Do you agree with your classmate’s perspective? Why or why not? Be specific. What is the most convincing part of your classmate’s post and why?
student 1 –
In the literary works “Life in the Iron Mills” by Rebecca Harding Davis and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the characters Hugh Wolfe and Young Goodman Brown exhibit remarkable moral principles and unwavering integrity despite the adversities they confront in their respective narratives.
In “Life in the Iron Mills,” Hugh Wolfe, an unassuming ironworker, showcases his integrity when he confronts the arduous choice of returning stolen money. Hugh, who resides in impoverished conditions and endures the harsh realities of the industrial world, finds himself enticed by the chance to ameliorate his circumstances. However, his intrinsic understanding of right and wrong compels him to resist this temptation and return the pilfered funds. As Hugh contemplates, “But I kin do it,” he murmurs softly, “an’ I will. It’s all I kin do in the world—to do right when I kin” (Davis, 2022). This quotation effectively illustrates Hugh’s moral uprightness and his resolute commitment to doing what is virtuous, even in the face of personal hardship.
Similarly, in “Young Goodman Brown,” the eponymous protagonist, Goodman Brown, exemplifies integrity by steadfastly refusing to succumb to the enticements of evil, despite being tempted and deceived by the devil himself. Throughout his expedition into the forest, Goodman Brown encounters a multitude of characters who challenge his faith and try to coax him into embracing wickedness. Nonetheless, he rejects these temptations and unwaveringly clings to his moral convictions. As Goodman Brown declares, “With Heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!” (Hawthorne, 1835). This excerpt effectively emphasizes Goodman Brown’s resolute dedication to his faith and his unwavering refusal to compromise his moral principles, even in the face of temptation and uncertainty.
Both Hugh Wolfe and Young Goodman Brown epitomize the quintessential American value of integrity by steadfastly adhering to their moral compasses and resolutely resisting the allure of wrongdoing. Through their actions and decisions, these characters serve as exemplars of the significance of upholding one’s principles, particularly in the midst of challenging circumstances. Their portrayals illuminate the strength of character and unwavering integrity that is often synonymous with the American identity.
student 2 –
The spooky and enigmatic author Edgar Allan Poe frequently included moral and conscience-related themes in his works. The nameless narrator of Charles Dickens’s well-known short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” is an example of a person with strong moral principles. The old man’s heartbeat, which the narrator interprets as his conscience, and his tormenting guilt are both haunting him. The narrator tries to convince the reader that he is sane, but in the end, pushed by an overpowering sense of moral duty, he confesses his crime. This reveals his inner conflict and the existence of a strong moral compass, even amid his insanity.
On the other hand, Robert Frost is renowned for his perceptive and reflective poetry that frequently examines moral quandaries and human experiences. In the poem “Mending Wall,” the speaker considers the custom of erecting and repairing a wall between two neighbors. The speaker opposes the idea of blindly sticking to inherited ideas and customs and questions the necessity of the wall. This exemplifies the speaker’s moral ideal of challenging cultural norms and promoting interconnection and understanding that transcends geographical boundaries.
Both Poe and Frost created characters who uphold high moral standards. The “The Tell-Tale Heart” narrator of Edgar Allan Poe struggles with shame and the weight of his conscience before finally confessing to the crime. The speaker in Frost’s poem “Mending Wall” questions the idea of segregation and promotes closer ties between people. These personalities serve as excellent examples of devotion to moral principles, whether it be via accepting personal accountability or challenging cultural norms.
Poe and Frost both challenge readers to think deeply about moral dilemmas and the repercussions of their choices by diving into the depths of human morality and conscience. These two authors provide insightful perspectives on the intricacies of human nature and the moral values that underpin people through their diverse storytelling and poetry approaches.
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