Henry Wadsworth Longfellow a successful American poet whose works carry a lot of sentimentalism. Sentimentalism is the act of stimulating tender emotional responses towards a given work of art that are not really due that work. Wadsworth successfully brings out this aspect especially in A Psalm of Life. “ tell me not in mournful numbers, life is but an empty dream (Longfellow n.p).” The two lines bring out a sense of hopelessness that there is no much meaning to life no matter how hard we attempt to live. Wadsworth was trying to show human beings the vagueness in life and the need to live a life free from a lot unnecessary struggles.
John Greenleaf Whittier, a Quaker American poet and an advocate of abolition of slavery was another successful sentimentalist. He sought to arouse emotions in those who promoted slavery to see the human need of abolishing slavery. He was heavily influenced by his father’s Quakerism developing his ideology from the books. He valued compassion, humanitarianism and social responsibility. He brings out the feelings of remorsefulness in his poem A Lament which essentially talks about death. Whittier attempts to arouse compassion in his audience by showing them the need to respect the lives of individuals despite those individuals’ backgrounds (Whittier n.p).
Oliver Wendell Holmes though not particularly sentimental as Whittier and Wadsworth was also among the ‘Fireside Poets’. His style was rather conversational and employed a lot of humor and satire in bringing out his themes. This is evident in his poem A Memorial Tribute where he is presenting a prayer in form a poem (Holmes n.p). He also however attempted to teach about compassion and the need to for people of all races to love each other. He was also among the advocates of abolition of slavery.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin is a sentimental novel that strongly advocated for the abolition of slavery. Harriet Beecher Stowe uses the character St. Clare to bring out the popularly help notion then that slavery worse to the master that it was to the slave. Mr. Haley was always troubled by his actions. He sought to ignore the inhumane treatment of slaves by just selling them. This though just continually affected him since there was nothing humane in selling a human being in an effort to avoid seeing his or her suffering. When Haley narrates about the young girl who died a week after being separated from her child, one can sense a feeling of remorsefulness in his voice. Though he attempts to focus his attention on the 1000 dollars that were lost, the whole ordeal clearly affected him psychologically (Stowe 134). This shows that this notion held some weight as the masters were also psychological affected especially with the realization that they had power to end the inhumane treatment of the slaves by just offering them their freedom.
Holmes, Wendell Oliver. “A Memorial Tribute”.
Longfellow, Wadsworth Henry. “A Psalm of Life”.
Stowe, Harriet Beecher. Uncle Tom's Cabin: Level 1. New York: EDCON Publishing Group,2008. Print.
Whittier, John Greenleaf. “A Lament”.