The Quaker City

The Dangers and Benefits of Emotion in 19th Century American Literature

The Dangers and Benefits of Emotion in 19th Century American Literature

by, Katie Skalski

November 8, 2004

Many of the popular texts found in 19th century American literature represent emotion, the effects of which can be perceived as both beneficial and dangerous to individuals and communities. In Lippard's The Quaker City, the characters' intense emotion help position the story as a cautionary tale. In contrast, Mitchell's Reveries of a Bachelor depicts a young hero who by employing emotion makes use of the fullest extent of his imagination and thus finally is ready to become an adult. Both texts present the effects of emotion and illustrate the 19th century concept of emotions as sources of both strength and weakness.

Characters in The Quaker City are highly emotional, thus cautioning 19th century readers of the dangers in letting emotion influence one's actions. In one instance, Mary discovers a romance novel and tells Lorrimer she, "found the volume on the table, and was reading it" when he came in, nave to the fact that he placed the book there to tempt her (Lippard 384). Lorrimer planted the book to, "wake her animal nature into full action, and when her veins were all alive with fiery...

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