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					American Literature Mid-Term Exam Study Notes

Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford
(Page 54)

      William Bradford was the governor of Plymouth Plantation. He told
the Puritans that they should always trust God, and He would bring them
through to safety.

      The Puritans were also known as the Separatists.

      The Pilgrims believed that had it not been for Squanto (the Indian who
helped them), they would not have survived.

       Over half of the Pilgrims died during the first winter of starvation and
disease. At one point, there were only two people not sick who were able to
care for the rest of the colony.

Here Follow Some Verses upon the Burning of Our House, July 10, 1666
by Anne Bradstreet
(Page 96)

Inversion: Bradstreet uses inversion (reversing the natural order of words)
to create emphasis, and to aid in the rhyme. (Example: " The grass green
the cow did eat")

      Bradstreet at first cries over the things she has lost in the fire. She
thinks back over the happy times she spent in the house (eating dinner with
friends, conversations with her husband, her treasured possessions, etc.)
Then she stops and realizes that she has been worshipping material, earthly
things, and she should have been focusing on God and heavenly things.

      She turns the emphasis from the lost possessions to the home that God
has prepared for her in heaven. She says that God is the mighty architect
who builds a home in heaven that can never be destroyed by fire.

       She says, "I blest His name that gave and took…" meaning that
material objects are ultimately the possessions of God because He allowed
her to have them in the first place.
The word "repine" means grieving over her losses (sad over her losses)

Metaphor: When you compare two things without using like or as.

      In the last part of the poem, Bradstreet uses "house" as a metaphor for
the home she will have in heaven.

The Crucible by Arthur Miller (page 1099)

       Arthur Miller wrote this play in response to the Communism trials
that Senator Joseph McCarthy conducted during the 1950's. (See page 1095
in textbook).

       The woods at the edge of the town were viewed by the village people
as an evil, dangerous place that was where the Devil stayed.

      In the play, the most sensitive and kind-hearted person is Rebecca
Nurse.

       Rev. Parris questions his niece Abigail about what took place in the
forest when he caught her and other girls dancing naked. Parrish is most
concerned with his reputation and his image in the town.

      Abigail threatens the other girls (Mary Warren, Mercy, and Betty)
because she wants to have power over them. She doesn't want anyone to
know that she was trying to put a spell on John Proctor's wife.

        John Proctor and Abigail had an affair while Abigail was working in
his and Elizabeth's home as a housekeeper. Elizabeth found out about the
affair, made John break it off, and fired Abigail. Afterward, John wants to
make it up to Elizabeth and wants her to forgive him, but she finds it
difficult to trust him again. John begins to regret having admitted to the
affair; he believes that only God has the power to judge another person.

      John Proctor believes in God, but he doesn't feel that he has to go to
church to worship God. He does not like Rev. Parris, and thinks that Parris is
motivated by extreme greed.
      When Rev. Hale goes to see the Proctors, he asks them to say the Ten
Commandments because he thinks they may not be good Christians, that
they might not know them.

      Elizabeth Proctor knows that Abigail's reason for starting rumors of
witchcraft is Abigail's desire to have Elizabeth put to death so she can marry
John Proctor.

      When Mary Warren (the Proctors' new housekeeper) becomes a
witness in the court, she gains a sense of power and becomes an assertive
young woman.

        When John Proctor finally admits to the court that he had an affair
with Abigail to explain her motivation, Elizabeth denies that John had an
affair when they question her. She doesn't know that John confessed, and she
is trying to protect his reputation.

       Governor Danforth tells the accused that they shouldn't be afraid if
they are innocent because the court is infallible (it cannot fail; it won't make
a wrong decision--the irony is that the court makes ONLY wrong decisions
in this case.). When he demands that those who vouched for the good name
of those accused of witchcraft, he created fear and the result was that no one
would come forth to testify for fear of retaliation.

       Rev. Hale begins to doubt the guilt of those accused.
When Mary Warren is convinced that she should confess, Governor
Danforth fears that her confession will make him look ridiculous, and he will
lose his status as a respected official.

      Rev. Parris tells Proctor that the Devil can strike at any time, and it
doesn't matter whether one has a good reputation or not, anyone can
succumb to the Devil's power.

      As the witchcraft trials progress, the townspeople become more and
more frightened and insecure.

There was another set of witch trials taking place in the village of Andover.
      However, the people there began to protest. Parris says that this
shows the people are tired of these trials.
At one point, Parris finds a dagger. This episode is symbolic of the
underlying evil that is driving the witch hunt.

        Parris begins to see that people are becoming angry about these witch
trials. He asks the court to postpone the hangings of John Proctor and
Rebecca Nurse because he knows they are well-respected in the town, and
he fears the townspeople will retaliate against him after they are dead.
However, Danforth refuses to postpone the hangings because he thinks it
will reflect badly on him and the court.

       When Abigail realizes that her plan has backfired, and that instead of
winning the marriage hand of John Proctor, she has condemned him to
death, she runs away from the town.

      Tituba confesses to witchcraft because she knows if she confesses the
court will allow her to go free.

      Herrick allows Rev. Parris to enter the jail against court orders
because he considers the church a higher authority than the court.

Thanatopsis by William Cullen Bryant
       The speaker of the poem reflects upon Nature as a mirror of his happy
moods/thoughts--especially those of death. In death, our beings intermingle
with Nature's elements, and we are not alone. The speaker advises us to live
in such a way that we can pass away peacefully.
       Nature speaks to both infants and old people in the beginning of the
poem. The speaker says that when we fear death, go to nature and listen to
what nature is saying to us. In nature, we will all decay and become part of
the cycle of nature. This should be a comfort to us because we will be
"mixed" with all those who have died before us and will be "mixed" with all
those who will die after us. Therefore, we will not be lonely. This poem
reflects the romantic period because nature intensifies emotional thoughts
and brings insights into life that one can only have through nature.

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
   Dimmesdale: The young minister in the town who fathers Hester's
   baby, but does not come forward to acknowledge the child as his. His
   hidden guilt makes him ill, and to try to assuage his guilty conscience,
   he carves the letter A into the skin on his chest.
Hester: Young, beautiful. When her husband, who was supposed to
follow her to American, does not arrive, she has an affair with Rev.
Dimmesdale and becomes pregnant. The townspeople put her in prison,
make her stand on a scaffold in front of the townspeople, make her wear
the scarlet-colored A on her clothes for the adultery she has committed,
and banish her and her daughter Pearl from all social contact.
Mistress Hibbins : The sister of Gov. Bellingham who practiced
witchcraft
Chillingsworth : Hester's legal husband. He was much older than her,
and had never been married before marrying Hester. He was deformed,
but was an educated man. He was captured by Indians when he arrived
in America, and could not meet Hester at the scheduled time. When he
arrives in the town of Boston, Hester is on the scaffold with baby Pearl.
He tells Hester to never reveal who he is. He pretends to be a doctor
because he studied science, and he has learned Indian remedies while
captured. He vows revenge, and is determined to find out who is the
father of Pearl. In the end of the story, he has changed his feelings
toward Pearl and leaves his fortune to her.
Pearl: Hester's out-of-wedlock child. She is beautiful, mischievous, and
seems to have an intuitive knowledge of Rev. Dimmesdale. When she
is an adult, she marries a wealthy European.
     The story spans an eleven-year time period in the town of Boston.
When Hester was released from prison, she and Pearl moved into a
small abandoned cottage at the edge of the town near the forest. She
made her living by sewing for the people of the village.
     She dressed Pearl in beautiful clothes, but the children in the town
were not allowed to play with Pearl. They would call her names, but
Pearl would retaliate by throwing rocks at them. When the town
officials tried to take Pearl away from Hester because they thought she
wasn't training her properly, Hester goes to see Gov. Bellingham. Rev.
Dimmesdale is there as well. Hester begs them to not take away Pearl,
and Dimmesdale intervenes on her behalf so she can keep her.
     As the story progresses, the townspeople begin to forget the sins of
Hester, and come to think of the A as meaning Angel or Able. At one
point, Dimmesdale and Hester plan to run away to Europe together so
they can be a family, but Dimmesdale says he must wait until he
delivers the Election Day Sermon. However, he dies before they can run
away. Chillingworth suspects that Dimmesdale is the father of Pearl,
and he moves in with him on the pretense of being his personal
physician. Chillingworth does not let Dimmesdale have any peace and
eventually discovers the A Dimmesdale has carved into his own chest.
    After Dimmesdale dies, Hester and Pearl move to England. Pearl
grows up and marries a wealthy man. Chillingworth leaves his fortune
to Pearl before he dies. Hester returns to Boston, puts the scarlet A back
on her clothing, and becomes a respected member of the community.
When she dies, she is buried in the cemetery with Dimmesdale . Their
graves were separated, but they share a common headstone.

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
     Mark Twain wrote Huckleberry Finn after the Civil War, but the
setting is before the Civil War.
     Huck is a poor, white boy whose father is the town drunk and beats
Huck . Huck does not understand or live by the rules of society because
he has had such a difficult life. He briefly has lived with Widow
Douglas , who has tried to teach him the rules of society, but he still
does not live by those rules. His father is holding him captive in an
isolated cabin. When Huck escapes, he fakes his own death so his father
will not look for him. He runs into Jim, an escaped slave who had
belonged to Ms. Watson. She had planned to sell him downriver. Huck
helps Jim, but feels guilty because he is breaking the laws of society.
     At one point, Huck plays a cruel joke on Jim, but when he sees how
much it upset him, he begins to view Jim with a new respect. Jim looks
out for Huck, and becomes a father figure for Huck. At one point, they
find a dead man in a flooded house floating on the river. The man is
Huck's father, but Jim doesn't tell Huck this because he assumes that any
child would be upset to learn of a parent's death.
     The Mississippi River, partly because of its isolation from the rest
of the world, becomes a place of refuge for Jim and Huck. It represents
freedom.
Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson says that each individual person has a unique character that has
been conceived and created by God.
Personification is the giving of human qualities to non-human things
(ex: The tree is waving its arms in the wind).
One of the more famous quotations in the essay is: "Foolish consistency
is the hobgoblin of little minds". Emerson is trying to say that we
should change our beliefs, our opinions, etc. as the circumstances
change. We should be open to new ideas, we should speak our opinions
loudly, and we should change those opinions when the circumstances
warrant change.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau lived in a cabin on Walden Pond to learn how to become self-
sufficient and not depend on other for his needs. He lived close to
nature, wrote down his thought, and came to the conclusion that people
should live lives that were not burdened by the expectations of society.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome is a frame story because it is divided into three sections, or
frames. The first frame has the narrator giving the exposition of the
story. The second frame is told in a flashback recounting the life of
Ethan Frome. The third frame returns the reader to the present, and has
the narrator providing the outcome of the story.

White is a symbol in the story representing lifelessness, cold, and
despair. Red represents life, energy, and hope. It is most often associated
with Mattie, whereas white is most often associated with Zeena. When
the red pickle dish ( symbol of happiness, energy, life) is broken, it
foreshadows that there can be no life for Mattie and Ethan.
It is ironic that Zeena is the person depicted for most of the story as
being sickly and frail, but she is the only able-bodied person in the
household at the end of story, and is taking care of Mattie , who took
care of her.
The use of foreshadowing is an important element in the story. For
example, when Ethan and Mattie witness the sledding accident the night
of the dance, it foreshadows their own "accident" later in the story.

Literary Terms
The definitions/explanations for the following terms can be found in
    the "Literary Terms Handbook" section of your textbook:

symbolism, theme, irony (verbal, situational, dramatic), logical and
emotional appeals, inversion, metaphor, simile, motif, aphorism, anecdote,
allusion, rhyme scheme, internal rhyme, end rhyme, alliteration, assonance,
personification, memoir, exposition, rising action, types of conflict (internal,
external, man/man, man/nature, man/society, man/self), climax/high point/
turning point, falling action, resolution, denouement, symbolism, setting,
syntax, parallel structure, tense, objective vs. subjective , protagonist,
antagonist, paradox, characterization ( methods , indirect, direct, dynamic,
static, round, flat), and transition words

				
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