The relevance between a character's philosophy of death and his way of living.

Essay by lousydslHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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Throughout the history of American literature, an individuals' perception of death reflects upon his approach towards life. In Jonathan Edwards' Puritan revival, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", Herman Melville's realistic story, "Benito Cereno", Emily Dickinson's melancholic poem, "712", and William Cullen Bryant's Transcendental poem, "Thanatopsis", distinct representations of death greatly affect several individuals' actions. Jonathan Edwards, a prominent leader of the Great Awakening, depicts death as a formidable punishment in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", which causes him and his congregation to live in constant anxiety and fear. Babo, a dissenting slave from "Benito Cereno", behaves in a rebellious manner because he foresees death to be his savior from constant torment. The indifferent and nonchalant attitude of the speaker of "712" develops from his belief that death is an eternity of oblivion, while the speaker of "Thanatopsis" leads a tranquil and fulfilling life in light of his comforting approach towards death.

In addition, The Puritanism present in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", the Realism present in "Benito Cereno", the morbidity present in "712", and the Transcendentalism present in "Thanatopsis", contribute to an individuals' opinion of death.

Jonathan Edwards and his Congregation live under restrictive boundaries and ascetic conditions because they fear a wrathful death from the hands of an indignant God as seen in "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God". Edwards explains to his followers that they should diverge from a wicked and gluttonous life, or else they must face "a sentence of condemnation to hell"(Edwards, 201). Like the Puritans, Edwards preaches to his disciples to remain pious, austere, and self-righteous in order to refrain from being sinful. Consequently, Edwards and his adherers do not indulge in any carnal desires or leisurely...