Liberal Individualism and Simulation in Wieland

Throughout Wieland the text circles around the possibility of social, and therefore national, progress during the period following the American Revolution. The eventual answers the text might provide are ambiguous and certainly outside the scope of this essay. However, one specific passage that contributes significantly to this textual discussion is contained within Clara’s description her brother and father’s qualities and the procurement of the bust of Cicero and how it sets the tone for the children’s use of their father’s temple. While attempting to break away from established systems of thought, the Wieland clan embrace Enlightenment thinking and with it the reverence for classical civilizations. In doing so, the possibility of progress is replaced with regress as they simply simulate and perform what they conceive to be Roman culture.

The similarities between Wieland and his father provide the slate upon which the rejection of certain values begins. They maintain similar characters, appearances and “…were accustomed to [view] …the vicissitudes of human life…”(Brown 22) in the same light. Viewing perpetually changing circumstances in a consistent manner seems paradoxical and lends itself to the idea of society as...

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