Essay Analysis

We are living through extraordinary times. Pandemic. Political division. Distrust of science. Suspicion about authority. Increased violence against immigrants, LGBTQ folks, and people of color. Social media, new technologies and start-up companies aiming to connect us and make our lives more convenient, may actually lead to a greater sense of isolation.

On the other hand, from the Enlightenment to the present we have survived because of human innovation, rules, authority and collective goodwill. When our political system goes through periods of weakness, as Burke argues, something greater than our individual experience holds us together, a “stupendous wisdom” that “moves on through the varied tenour of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression” (30). For Pope and Burke, we survive because of traditions, institutions and strong faith. For Wordsworth, Douglass and Jefferson, hard work, family and human ingenuity guide us through difficult times. For Swift and Blake, art and literature move us forward, restoring and reforming what is broken, even justifying evil and sickness.

For the final project, please select one of the following authors:

Walt Whitman
Emily Dickinson
Leo Tolstoy

How does your selected author’s work, the ideas that they address, or the political, personal or spiritual projects they promote act as a remedy for one of our current social ills?

Explain what this writer sees as primarily wrong with society or the individual and what they offer as a more healthy and balanced way of living.

What would the world look like if these writers were able to recreate it to their liking?

Sample Solution