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Comparing God In Daisy Miller, Huck Finn, And Country Of The Pointed Firs

2093 words - 9 pages

Eliminating God in Daisy Miller, Huckleberry Finn, and The Country of the Pointed Firs

 
        The evils of the Civil War and the rise of empiricism caused many to doubt in an omniscient, all-powerful God.  Under empiricism, any statements about metaphysical entities (e.g. God, Unicorns, Love, and Beauty) would be meaningless terms because they cannot be proven by the scientific method. But with a loss of faith in God, what becomes of morality?   This essay will examine how Emily Dickinson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Henry James and Mark Twain wrote literature in this age coupled with war, inhumanity and despair in God.  This essay will show that: (1) Dickinson destroys any reliance on the ...view middle of the document...

Because she believed that God could not be found, she attacked the Bible's ability to convey notions of God:  "The Bible is an antique Volume--/ Written by faded Men" (1545).  Dickinson found more companionship in her trusty dictionary (which helped define words) than a Bible (which was to define life).  To Dickinson, Nature was supreme; Nature was tangible; Nature was real.  Dickinson needed empirical evidence and Nature provided it for her:  "'Nature' is what we see/ . . . Nature is what we hear/ . . . Nature is what we know" (668).  One can't help but think that her love of nature might have been born from Wordsworth who instructed us in The Tables Turned to "Let nature be your teacher,/ She has a world of ready wealth,/ Our minds and hearts to bless."  Dickinson made Nature her new church: "with a Bobolink for a Chorister/ And an Orchard, for a Dome" (324).  This statement is packed with Wordsworthian advice, especially when he penned:  "hear the woodland linnet, /How sweet his music! on my life, /There's more of wisdom in it."  Whereas Nature provided something tangible that could be experienced, faith was simply: "a fine invention/ When Gentlemen can see--/ But Microscopes are prudent/ In an Emergency" (185). Furthermore, she to Dickinson, "Faith slipsand laughs, and rallies--/ Blushes, if any see--."  Dickinson was very honest in her criticism against the Church and spoke for a generation of people disgruntled with a life stricken with pain and grief.  Whereas the church could find comfort in singing the meter of hymns, Emily Dickinson found comfort in writing meter praising Nature.  Her struggle with faith represents a culture grief stricken by the Civil War but she sought solace in Nature, just like Jewett's Joanna.

 

          In "The Country of the Pointed Firs," Jewett pushes God out of the picture by eliminating the omniscient narrator.  As readers, we follow the story through the eyes of a nameless narrator, who acts as a reporter in a small maritime town in Main.   All of the information we receive is subjective, based on the thoughts of a reporter and forces us readers to trust human experiences over an absolute omniscient narrator.  Jewett, like Dickinson, also praises nature over God through Joanna, who has separated herself from the world in fear that she has committed the unpardonable sin, and moved to Shell-Heap Island.  Instead of seeking repentance in church, she hides and communes in nature.  Joanna,  "in spite of hopelessness and winter weather, and all the sorrow and disappointment in the world" (Jewett 82), had Nature in Shell-Heap Island.  The praise of Nature is pushed even further during Joanna's funeral, where Reverend Dimmick's blessing was interrupted and outdone by the song of a  "poor little bird" ( Jewett 78).  Jewett not only eliminates God through the use of the omniscient narrator, but also turns people to praise nature.  The narrator states makes Joanna's character universal when she states that...

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