First blog post

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Form vs Fact

When Frederick argues that “the day had last when he could be a slave in fact,” he is really saying that he will not succumb to slavery. He will not admit defeat to his master. He may appear to be a slave physically, which is what he means by a slave in “form,” but he will not identify as being a slave. He looks like a slave but he is telling us that he is not going to let himself actually be considered one, at least to himself. He has an identity that suggests he will go beyond the limitations of slavery.

A Connection Between Emerson and Douglas

Emerson argues that it is a terrible thing to be a bookworm. Being a bookworm causes you to become less scholarly by disabling you to develop your own personal opinions. For Frederick Douglas however, books were his salvation. When Douglas had learned to read, he would read and reread his copy of “The Columbian Orator” every chance he had. This book saved his life in a completely anti-Emersonian way. Douglas recalls his appreciation for the Sheridan section of the book:

“What I got from the Sheridan was a bold denunciation of slavery, and a powerful vindication of human rights [..] The reading of these documents enabled me to utter my thoughts, and to meet the arguments brought forward to sustain slavery […] The more I read, the more I was led to abhor and detest my enslavers.”

Emerson would argue that Douglas needed to read several books on the subject and analyze them to develop an educated stance. Of course, that option was not available to Douglas because he was a slave, which is a very different audience than to who Emerson was reaching out to. Nevertheless, Douglas’ opinion contradicts an Emersonian way of thinking because he was able to develop an INTELLECTUAL view of opposing slavery. Being a bookworm was actually good for Douglas.


Emerson/Whitman Connection

The line

“You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself”

in Leaves of Grass reminds me of how Emerson suggests that being manthinking and a creative reader is better than a bookworm. Emerson does not want our own personal thoughts to be purely based on the views of an author of one book. Instead he wants the author just to inspire our own thoughts on a particular subject, whether we agree or disagree. To me the line also suggests that you need to experience things to make proper judgements. In The Anerican scholar, the lines

“It’s laws are the laws of his own mind. Nature then becomes to him the measure of his attainments. So much of nature he is ignorant of, so much of his mind he does not possess”

to me mean don’t make uneducated judgements. Experience things and then make judgements from your experience.


In the film The Deer Hunter, nature plays a key role in changing the ideas of the main protagonist, Robert De Niro. In the film, two friends get drafted to go to Vietnam, and go hunting in the woods to clear their heads of any fearful/troubling thoughts. While hunting, Robert De Niro’s character effortlessly shoots a deer and is popular in the town for being a skilled deer hunter. While in Vietnam, however, both friends are exposed to several aspects of war that affect them psychologically. When Robert De Niro returns home from Vietnam, he goes hunting to clear his mind of the pressures of a returning soldier. This time while hunting, he is unable to shoot a deer. I believe that he is unable to shoot the deer because the war made him go through a renaissance. He now has an appreciation for life and wants to preserve the beauty in the world, which in this case is nature. He goes from viewing nature one way to viewing it in a completely opposite way.