The Great Awakening & Jonathan Edwards

Although not a specific work or author, but a period of time, the Great Awakening still had a significant impact on early American literature. It refers to the revitalization of spiritual growth during the early 18th century that brought a national identity to colonial America. Probably the most worthy representative and figure of this movement is Jonathan Edwards. He gained international fame as a revivalist after publishing A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in 1738. His Personal Narrative (1765) recollected his rapture and religious affections. He emphasized the supremacy of God, the degeneracy of mankind, and the reality of hell. He called for a renewal and conversion of faith and religion, which pioneered a new psychology and philosophy. Among his many books and sermons, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God (1741) is the most famous. The passionate imagery Edwards evokes in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God makes the sermon memorable and striking. By preaching about the horrors of hell and the wrath of God rather than the boundless generosity, Edwards was able to revitalize faith through fear. Literary scholars “connect Edwards’ psychological principles with his emphasis on rhetoric as a means of eliciting emotional responses, most readily seen in the ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’” ( Other influential works by Edwards include “Shadows or Images of Divine Things” and “The End for which God Created the World.” His writings provided a new perspective on religion, made religion more personal for the individual and the individuals more aware.

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Formatting/Citation Matters

In my second draft, I included a definition of a word to emphasize my argument/analysis. However, I am unsure of how to correctly cite the source (OED) parenthetically in text and on my works cited page. I could not find the guideline on the Purdue OWL website, so I just copy and pasted the citation the OED “cite” link provided me, blindly accepting the citation as is. I would like to know if that is the proper citation format, however.

I am also having trouble with line spacing between paragraphs. In my first draft, Professor Walkden pointed out the extra spacing between my paragraphs. I, honestly, do not remember skipping lines nor do I even see the extra spacing in my word document. Since I cannot see the spacing, I do not know how to fix this formatting error.

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Notes On a Scandal: What wasn’t she thinking?

The topic/issue of how a private relationship between two people affects everyone that surround them pervades in a majority of the books we’ve read for class. Despite the truthfulness of whether the relationship exists, there can be no privacy or concealment of the existence of the relationship. However, in our reading syllabus, the crime of the act shifts from the exposure of the truth to the actual crime and unacceptability of the act. Othello, Ovid’s Apollo, and Chaucer’s Phebus in “The Manciple’s Tale” regret having the knowledge of their wife’s extramarital affair. They all prefer to live in a false happiness. As the time period of the literatures progress, relationships between characters became more absorbing, involving and concerning more people than just the immediate partner. Students, schools, and friends proclaim to be threatened and adversely affected by a relationship between two other people. Something that occurs between two individuals somehow permeates into the lives of others whom they share no intimate connection with, but can still potentially endanger and hurt them. The relationship status between two people transforms from being an alliance to a selfish act to refocus attention back to the self.

In both The Children’s Hour and Notes on a Scandal, society claims to be directly affected by Martha, Karen, and Sheba’s relationships. They become the most hated women and are exiled, unable to even go out for groceries. They are unable to pursue, commit to or continue any other external relationship. All three women consequently turn to  homoeroticism—to another woman and depended upon them. This suggests to me that if Othello and Phebus didn’t kill their wives and instead left them, Desdemona might have resorted to exile with Emilia and Phebus’s wife also with another woman.

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The Children’s Hour

Despite Martha’s private confession that the slander against her and Karen is actually truth, Mrs. Tilford is still blameworthy for ruining Karen and Martha’s lives. Although Mrs. Tilford may have revealed an unknown, but eventual truth, Martha’s feelings were still secret even to herself. Her love for Karen was still unrealized and unrecognized, making Mrs. Tilford’s accusations initially slander. Mrs. Tilford’s claims for exposing the headmistresses’ relationship arise from the fear and disapproval society created and instilled. She defends her actions by emphasizing her ethical role in reporting and protecting the school children from unaccepted behaviors. Mrs. Tilford hides behind society, asserting a status of a mere individual in a society, socially obligated to conform and acquiesce to societal restrictions and guidelines. By reporting on Martha and Karen, two women violating societal codes, Mrs. Tilford considers and dubs herself as a protector of society. Mrs. Tilford comes to represent society through her internalization of society’s system and conventions. Society’s oppression of Martha, Karen, and homosexuality drives Martha to oppress herself and her own feelings. Martha never develops her feelings and affection for Karen or realizes until seven months after she has been accused of the affair. Society’s oppressive nature leads Martha to self-oppress until Mrs. Tilford uncovers and implants the truth in her.

Martha’s suicide demonstrates how slander is not the worst offense one undergoes and experiences. However, when an act that elicits slanderous effects and accusations becomes truth, the burden, shame, and societal alienation drive one to prefer death. Because Martha and Karen were only accused, never committing the affair, between them and within themselves individually, they were unjustly treated and shunned by society. However, when the slander escalates to represent truth, their punishment becomes deserved; they have brought upon their estrangement. (No, I do not believe that homosexuality or any love is condemnable, but this is how I see Martha interpreting her feelings and justifying suicide.)  The truth is too hard to bear and live with, so when Martha realizes that the accusation is not slander, but truth, she kills herself. The spreading of an initially false rumor may have ruined their lives, but acknowledging the rumor to actually be true kills. Society’s oppression and strong disapproval of behaviors make living with the truth vastly more difficult than being just falsely accused of it.

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Reflection Blog

Where to start and what to do are usually and immediately the biggest conflicts I face when the words “paper” and “essay” are thrown into the classroom by the instructor. Which of the readings do I incorporate? Should I think of a topic first? Or choose which readings I want to study first? My initial questions are always the same, but the process sometimes differs. Due to the inevitable set of questions that always erupts, my constant questioning of intent, ideas, and goals, I would deduct that research questioning, or just questions in general, is the most productive and helpful component to me to exploring and organizing my ideas. While drafting my prospectus plan, I reflected back on our past class discussions and what bothered me the most, what triggered me to return home to write a second blog. After choosing my topic, the research questions we had to come up with helped to guide me into narrowing down what exactly I wanted to write my paper about. Questions function as good prompts to help guide me through the thinking process—how and where to start, what to do, which direction to take, what to research. However, that doesn’t mean that the questions component was the easiest task in writing the draft. Thinking up of relevant, thought provoking questions was difficult and time consuming. I wondered if they were deep enough, controversial, stimulating and inspiring. Would there be secondary readings about them? Can I not answer this yet? I had questions about my questions. But I believe it will help me to summon enough material and ideas to write an 18 page paper.

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