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Social Influences in Ancient Literature Essay

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Updated: Nov 20th, 2019

Religious, Social and Political Influences


The novels, “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe and “An Unwritten Novel” by Virginia Woolf, and the poems, “Song of Myself” by Walt Whiteman and “Diary of a Madman” by Lu Xun, explore political, social, and metaphysical fiction genre. Drawn from personal experiences, these writings reveal rot of the society as contributed due to the themes raised there, such as monopolistic corporation, misery, twin-self, paranoia, altered states, and authoritarian administration. This paper examines similarities in these four writings.

Comparative Analysis

The main theme presented by these writings is personal identity as a component of realism. Literary writing attempts to inexplicitly portray certain thoughts of characters. Recognizing themes of loyalty, moral crisis, honor, and revenge, Chinua Achebe sarcastically ridicules neocolonialism in Africa. The main character, Okonkwo, is an African gentleman full of pride which he loses and hangs himself at the end.

Colonialism is depicted to force a rather peaceful society to embrace a sudden change. As a result, those who do not cope up should be swept away by the heavy forced change. Reflectively, Chinua is moved by Okonkwo’s imaginative exploration of memory manipulation and how misused power can wreak havoc on humanity. Chinua tries to blend the high-concept vision of the world of tomorrow with his own stylized and highly dramatized language.

He creates a very human story that combines stories of both self-discovery and love. Chinua Achebe succeeds in convincingly mingling the ‘futuristic’ and the ‘realistic’ imaginations of the colonial power to create a world of exotic exploitation and mind control characterized by time variances, chauvinism, and societal imbalances. Interestingly, the narrative genre presents an unending conflict between neocolonialism and total freedom which exist to present times.

The theme of time, similar to Chinua Achebe’s reflection, is illustrated in the poem Song of Myself. Indeed, the poet considered time as a marvelous nasty task. Walt intends to turn over features of time in order to command over time. Furthermore, Walt is distressed with time; however, this is not a surprise to people. In fact, time was a controversial debate in the 1600s. Actually, Walt lived when Sir Newton Isaac and Galileo transformed the manner people perceived the time. Indeed, time is a mystery.

Walt’s poem, therefore, tries to investigate the secrets of time. Theme of sex is also presented in the poem as a social concern. In fact, if time is a marvelous nasty task to Walt, then sex is a fantastic power over which he wants to dominate. Indeed, the issue of sex was rarely discussed in public in the traditional society of his time. However, with intelligence and braveness, Walt talks about sex in an open, attractive and agitating language.

Actually, sex comprises one of the mysteries that many poets have never dared to investigate upon. Indeed, Walt’s dedication possibly overlays the approach for more public debate about sex matters. Furthermore, the conflict in the poetic narrative is due to sexual vision associated rather with time than the society. Actually, Walt explains that sexual relation would enable him to command over time; however, such idea was sarcastically intended. Indeed, this is an eventual remark to the short feature of sexual pleasure in life.

The poem “Diary of a Madman” by Lu Xun shares the same thoughts on the society in terms of perception on morality. The theme of morality meaning death is discussed in Xun’s poem. The poet describes thus his apparition of death. Though, such apparition is decently perceived depending on what the poet converses and wishes such hope is beyond and far from his dream.

Actually, Xun believes that death happens due to failure to control and command over time. Moreover, the poet appears to be a humorous narrator who builds an interesting and amusing poem. According to Xun’s poem, death is associated with time. Besides, Xun presents theme of captivity and liberation. Xun discusses how he was imprisoned in the mind and viewed the ways to liberate from that situation.

Actually, Xun’s poem calls for freedom in human life. Besides, sex is just a metaphorical figure in the poem. In fact, what Xun expects is adequate amount of time that would perpetually last beyond his hope. Furthermore, the poem also elevates doubt of irony and actually misleads readers with incorrect and strident imagery. Moreover, certain critics perceive that the poem is a sarcastic declaration on unrealistic obsession.

Actually, they deny the view that the poem holds a solemn disposition. Actually, the second verse of the poem attempts to suggest a swift change of imagery which entails worms, marble vaults and grave. Moreover, Xun deliberates to use such metaphors to portray a practical and ruthless death which lies ahead of lovers. Actually, Xun aims to use such statement to frighten the society in order to come into his compliance and interest.

The novel “Unwritten Novel” by Virginia Woolf dwells on perception and the changing beliefs in the society. In fact, this applies how poetry uses indirect implication to pass on information. Presenting information in direct manner seems tiresome and boring. Changing information and making such ideas indefinite and ambiguous enable readers to catch the implications.

There is a necessity for two people to work together; thus one individual drafts a poem and another person tries to figure out its content. While another person tosses a ball, another individual seizes it. Indeed, it is cumbersome for an individual to toss decent common information and catch the implication at the same time. Thus, Virginia presents a view that ‘Divine Providence’ is a crucial need in human life. Actually, mankind needs power to fly (wings) in order to find freedom.

Virginia asserts that every person should develop true consistency and ensure conformity. People should follow their own ideas and personal instinct. Virginia advocates for a philosophical principle of “trust thyself” as a concept of self-reliance.

People should be self-reliant in order to depend rather on their own reasoning and intuition than on popular views and conformity to common opinions of other people. Moreover, the main idea is that an individual should trust his or her own inner inspirations. Hence, people should nurture intuition that inspires their thinking. This kind of ‘inner voice’ should not be corrupted and influenced by others. Virginia advises contemporary fellow colleagues to avoid imitating people as role models.

Furthermore, Virginia urges people to be confident in achieving their own individual interests and have courage to develop their own original intentions. People should decline to conform with customs of recognized cultures since such practices are mere shallow ideals. Instead people should build their own ideals, even though such kind of creativity might cause accusation and criticism.

Findings and Discussion

Reflectively, the authors opine that transcendentalism is a philosophical notion regarding reality principles, as realized through thinking processes that are beyond empirical periphery.

Transcendental thinking is spiritual and intuitive reality. They reject the attitude of unthinking conformity that is prevalent in the contemporary society. Xun urges every person to develop his or her own original relationship with the world. Virginia is also against the idea of collective responsibility. She advocates for individual rights to enhance human potentialities.

Besides, she is against excessive material possession and dehumanization that are rampant due to the era of industrial revolution. Achebe is disappointed with spiritual insufficiency of the recognized religions. Achebe advocates for transcendentalism that is against unkind and merciless authoritarian neocolonialism. Walt proposes transcendentalism which aims at more emotionally communicative, socially mindful and humanistic way of coexisting.

According to Xun, transcendentalism does not concern a particular belief. Virginia views nature as a reality which is made up of four components, such as discipline, beauty, commodity, and language. These components define the manner in which people utilize nature for their essential needs, their wish for enjoyment, their knowledge of the world, and communication among themselves.

According to Achebe, nature is something too much complicated to human minds; people do not appreciate its beauty, even though nature provides us with everything. Human beings get distracted by natural events around them and do not ripe favors from nature. Nature is perfectly appropriate for people’s need which is not a distractive element to them. Walt urges people to avoid being distracted and confused with societal events; instead, they should build understanding of the holistic natural beauty.

Virginia perceives that individual approach is the only way people can hold on what nature has provided them with. She opines that personal reflection is an approach that enables human being to understand what nature holds. Society’s activities are distractive and can ruin the holistic nature of human being.

People and nature thus must build a reciprocal relation since nature is the only thing that people can depend on. It is a divine aid that nourishes human being. Nature is spiritual and universal thing that people must appreciate, it is also considered divine so human beings must be dedicated to serve it.

In unison, the authors opine that when reflection act occurs in the mind, a person realizes that he/she has gained a splendor and beautiful experience. This is where everything, not only familiar and outdated events but also horrible and tragic deeds, seems appealing when they appear in the mind due to reflection.

Human soul acquires great experience in such a case. Human intellection is healthier when people lead the “life of nature” and are not troubled with societal challenges which in the real sense do not exist. Moreover, when people persistently build original intention, without conforming to recognized culture, they will never be confused in speculation. Instead, their intellection may achieve reality that other individuals will learn from them.


Conclusively, literary works are normally composed in an indirect and tricky manner in order for readers to think deeply for implied meanings. These stories share the same connection in understanding the position of the society as dynamics of existence shift from a friendly parameter to harsh reality. The authors share expression tools, such as metaphors, irony, similes, and traditional language, to summarize the imbalances in the societies.

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