Comparing and Contrasting Anecdotes of Edwards and Whitman
If everyone thought the same, if everyone’s form was alike, if everyone had no distinctions, then life would not be the same. Nothing is ever the same. Our thoughts and ideas differ, as we think in different levels, but even our ideas have similarities. The foundations of our ideas are connected through the various uses of languages and techniques. Though Edwards’s and Whitman’s anecdotes differed abundantly in theme and explanation, they had similarities in regard to tone, imagery, diction, poetic devices, and their reflections on human nature, as well as differences. Both Edwards’s and Whitman’s anecdotes can be analyzed in the areas of tone, diction, syntax, and figures of speech.
The tone within anecdotes can be caught, as it is expressive of a mood or emotion. Words that are often used express their differences of meaning. Tone is the style or manner of expression in writing that gives the passage a general
character, quality, trend or frame of mind. In other words, the tone, itself, sets up a mood within the passage. Edwards centers himself on the main topic of damnation. The tone he uses is one of rage, pity and demand, which makes the reader feel downcast and unworthy of one’s self. Whitman’s tone is of hope. It channels through discovery, exploration and opportunity. The idea that salvation is reachable is expressed in his tone. As in the following: “And you O my soul where you stand, surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space, ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them, till the bridge you need be formed, till the ductile anchor hold, till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.” Edwards believes that one is only a puppet held together by strings held by the puppeteer, who thinks of one as nothing more than if he were dust. “He looks upon you as worthy of nothing else but to be cast into the fire.” Jonathan preaches on nothing other than damnation. He can not relate to the idea that life has significance. He himself cannot connect to the deep meanings of life, because he thinks of life as some pit or punishment. Whitman, on the other hand, discusses how even a spider explores his surroundings. Though the spider’s surroundings may seem miniature to the human eye, to a spider they are vast and full of new activity as each territory is explored. In this impression, Whitman illustrates the soul as a traveler and as an adventurer, who is given a mind to muse, explore and discover to reach some point in life when he, too, will be able to connect and awaken, realize and share with another what he has uncovered.
Diction regards correctness, clearness and effectiveness. Edwards presents his ideas in an abstract manner, by comparing man to a spider. Whitman uses abstract language, as well, in which he speaks of a spider and the universal soul. Both are connected, as the spider has a soul. Edwards uses monosyllables, while Whitman uses polysyllables. Both Edwards and Whitman both use connotations to signify interesting connections from one unrelated concept to another. Edwards speaks of a God that holds one over a pit of hell. He compares this to a man holding an insect, such as a spider, over fire. Edwards does not relate to the fact that man may only think of a spider as unworthy, because man fears and does not allow himself to comprehend that spiders are “living”, as well. Jonathan Edwards is judgmental in his preaching. He relies heavily on the ideals of damnation and hellfire, that he is unable to allow himself to understand the notion of equality between the soul of a man and the souls of other living kingdoms in the living world. Edwards thinks of man as unworthy. If such were the case, then he is speaking materially, because he does not give any notion of a soul. His words give meaning that the supernatural order does not care or concern itself with living entities. Meanwhile, Whitman gives life meaning, as if it were an overflowing stream that connects with one and all, as water is essential for living forms.
Syntax is the way in which linguistic elements are put together to form constituents. It is a connected and orderly system with a harmonious arrangement of parts and elements, that deal with the formal properties of language. Both Edwards and Whitman use complex sentences. The sentences relate to one another in a flowing manner. There is no deviation and the sentences are balanced with ideas and reasons of their own.
Figures of speech are forms of expressions, such as similes or metaphors, that are used to convey meaning or heighten effect often by comparing or identifying one thing with another. Both Edwards and Whitman utilize images of a spider and man. Edwards specifically speaks of a supernatural power and man, compared to man and a spider. Whitman links a spider to the soul of every living form. In this respect, both illustrate an image being linked to another image.
Although, Edwards’s way of thinking separates him from that of Whitman’s, they have their similarities. They each convey their ideas in a compare and contrast manner, showing how one image is linked to another. These notions are presented in their uses of tone, diction, syntax and figures of speech. Even though not every single color is the same, it has some similarity with another color in a sense that it is a phenomenon of light, a visual perception that one uses to differentiate otherwise identical objects.
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