Example 2 - Essay #1: Close Reading Louisa May Alcotts...

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Essay #1: Close Reading Louisa May Alcott’s short story “Transcendental Wild Oats” tells about the dreams and failures of the fictional planned utopian community Fruitlands. The founders set out to create an ideal and self-sufficient society that harms no living creatures. No animal labor is to be used or animal products to be eaten, leaving all of the farming to be done by the hands of the intellectual founders. Mrs. Lamb does not share their zeal and makes due only because she consents to follow wherever her husband, Abel Lamb, goes. The endeavor ends up failing and it is Mrs. Lamb who pulls her family together and finds them a future, even if it is not an ideal one. There are many reasons that people could blames for Fruitland’s failure. One could say that it was just random chance, or because of the founders stupidity, or that their ideas were all flawed from the start. One could even say that all utopias are doomed, that it is impossible to create paradise on earth. In reality it is more complicated than that. Alcott shows that Fruitlands failed not because of the ideals that created it but because the founders refused any compromise of their vision. Had they taken advise or been less strict, they could have been successful and conceivably could have created a perfect society. The founders use very strong language when talking about how their society must be run. It does not leave room for error or compromise. When describing its fate they state “this enterprise must be rooted in a reliance on the succors of an ever-bounteous
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Providence 1 .” “Must” is a very strong word. By saying that their society “must” be ruled by providence they are decreasing the power man can have to shape their destiny. The failure must succeed, because God ordains it. And if it does not, then it is not the fault of man, but providence. This means that man is not responsible to do whatever is necessary ensure that the society flourishes. Abel himself says that there is no need to stretch their minds to think in a way that does not conform to their prejudices. “In these steps to reform, we do not rely so much on scientific reasoning or physiological skill as on the spirit’s dictates 2 .” He is completely denying the value of the laws of science in nature. According to him, the biological and chemicals laws that they are going to face; that fields sown with mixtures of seeds are less successful, trees that are transplanted do not bear fruit their first year, if a crop is not taken in before a big storm then it will be lost; are besides the point. In reality, it is the laws of nature that will dictate the community’s success. They rely on earthly laws because they are trying to create heaven on earth, not in heaven. If they
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This note was uploaded on 03/24/2009 for the course WRITING 060.113.20 taught by Professor Moran during the Spring '09 term at Johns Hopkins.

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Example 2 - Essay #1: Close Reading Louisa May Alcotts...

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