Searching for the Self: Transcendentalist Ideas as an Inspiration for American Teenagers in Little Women by Gillian Armstrong and Paper Towns by John Green

Łucja Kalinowska

Abstract


This paper examines two American works of fiction concerning how teenage characters explore and manifest their identity, looking up to transcendentalist ideas, whether consciously or not. The paper puts forth the most individualistic protagonists and investigate their motivation, ways of escaping the society’s expectations and the interaction between them and their environment. The first source analyzed: the film Little Women directed by Gillian Armstrong tells the story of the March family living in the 1860s Concord, influenced by the spirit of transcendentalism. The second source discussed: John Green’s novel Paper Towns employs the notion of a character coming back to transcendentalist values and authors in the 21st century. This paper shows how the teenagers use the transcendentalist ways, whether they are aware of them, and defy the rules of the society frequently represented by the people in their closest environment.


Keywords


transcendentalism, individualism, identity, teenagers, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau

Full Text:

PDF

References


Primary sources:

Little Women. 1994. Directed by Gillian Armstrong. USA: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. DVD.

Green, John. 2013. Paper Towns. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Secondary sources:

Alcott, Louisa May. 1868. Little Women. Planet PDF. http://www.planetpublish.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Little_Women_NT.pdf

Andrews, Barry Maxwell. 2017. Transcendentalism and the Cultivation of the Soul. Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press.

Bellah, Robert N., Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton. 1985. Habits of the Heart. Individualism and Commitment in American Life. Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Bellah, Robert N., Richard Madsen, William Sullivan, Ann Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton. 1991. The Good Society. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, and Joel Porte. 1983. Essays & Lectures. The Library of America. New York: Viking Press.

Harma, Tanguy. 2016. “The Intuitive Self Made Supreme: An Existentialist Reading of Emersonian Transcendentalism through Sartre’s Concepts of Nothingness and Engagement.” Conference proceedings. London: University of London.

Hoby, Hermione. 2015. “The Problem with Being ‘Badass.’” The Guardian, December 7. https://bit.ly/2GldZvp.

Knight, Denise D. 2003. Writers of the American Renaissance: An A-to-Z Guide. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Laire, Delphine. 2008. “Little Women, a Feminist Study.” Master’s Thesis. Ghent: Ghent University.

Natanson, Maurice. 1962. Literature, Philosophy, and the Social Sciences: Essays in Existentialism and Phenomenology. The Hague: Nijhoff.

Reynolds, David S. 2000. A Historical Guide to Walt Whitman. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ross, Ashley. 2015. “These Are the Biggest Differences Between The ‘Paper Towns’ Movie and Book.” Time, July 24. https://bit.ly/38aPgra.

Sławek, Tadeusz. 2009. Ujmować: Henry David Thoreau i wspólnota świata. Katowice: The University of Silesia Press.

Thoreau, Henry David. 1993. Civil Disobedience, and Other Essays. New York: Courier Corporation.

Walls, Laura Dassow. 2017. Henry David Thoreau: A Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Wayne, Tiffany K. 2014. Encyclopedia of Transcendentalism. New York: Infobase Publishing.

Whitman, Walt. 1855. Leaves of Grass. New York: Eakins Press. https://bit.ly/2DmEf8a.

Worley, Sam McGuire. 2001. Emerson, Thoreau, and the Role of the Cultural Critic. Albany: State University of New York Press.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/nh.2020.5.143-156
Data publikacji: 2020-09-04 12:41:37
Data złożenia artykułu: 2019-11-04 16:23:32


Statistics

Total abstract view - 345
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0

Indicators



Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Copyright (c) 2020 Łucja Kalinowska

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.