By Michael Spindler
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Additional resources for American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller
Herman Melville 's Moby Dick (1851) is an epic romance whose heroes are those we would expect of mid-nineteenth-century America - the hunters, exploiters and economic adventurers (for Ahab is one of these too) . As we would further expect, the relationship that is emphasised is the one between man and nature , an ambivalent relationship , violent and oppositional at one pole and mystical and unifying at the other. Also , since it is an epic in a democratic society. it celebrates equality through the fellowship of the different races aboard the Pequod and individualism through Ahab 's self-reliance and single- mindedness of purpose.
Hardware 29 Herbert Spencer enjoyed a great vogue in the United States during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, his popularity attaining its peak in 1882 when he visited America and met prominent business and intellectual leaders. " Although some aspects of these doctrines were hostile to the tradition of equality and democracy they could easily be accommodated to the native individualism. Furthermore , the promise of an ultimate adjustment between the individual and society offered to resolve the tension which Jeffersonian individualism had recognised but whose optimistic moral solution had proved fragile in the rough conditions of the late nineteenth century.
His wife perceptively charges him with having made his paint his god, and, as an exchange with Tom Corey reveals, his faith in his product is quasi-religious in tone: '''It's the best paint in God's universe," he said, with the solemnity of prayer. ' As we have seen, this Protestant view of business arose out of and endorsed the behaviour demanded by a period of primitive accumulation. It exhorted an intense industry on the one hand and an ascetic compulsion to save on the other, two traits with which Howells fully endows his character.
American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller by Michael Spindler