Authorizing the Self in Three Texts

Authorizing the Self in Three Texts - Authorizing the Self...

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Authorizing the Self in Three Texts Throughout the 18th century in America, definitions and comprehensions of the self in literature changed drastically, metamorphosing from a self-comprehension constituted by a subordination to a higher authority to the more modern autonomous personality. Within three exemplary texts of self-construction, namely Jonathan Edwards' "Personal Narrative," Benjamin Franklin's "Autobiography," and Olaudah Equiano's "The Interesting Narrative," the presentation and literary representation of the self exhibits a shift from Edwards' Puritanic submission of his identity to the supremacy of God's higher authority to the more freewheeling and manipulable Weltanschauung of Olaudah Equiano and Benjamin Franklin. The shift in self-comprehension manifested in these later eighteenth century autobiographies possess a greater sense of self- malleability in the public sphere, a conferrance of central authority, power, and respect from an alterior subject to the person's own subjectivity, and a common quest for freedom from subservience to societal conventions and power struggles. To more fully comprehend the position of the self in the early Puritan American framework, it is necessary to analyze Edwards' "Personal Narrative" and recognize the extreme ontological deference from Edwards' own self to God's authority. John Edwards legitimates his own subjectivity through his utter humility and surrender in
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This note was uploaded on 04/14/2008 for the course ENG V41.0230 taught by Professor Crain during the Spring '08 term at NYU.

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Authorizing the Self in Three Texts - Authorizing the Self...

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