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IHUM final essay FINAL

IHUM final essay FINAL - The German Dialectic Immaturity vs...

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The German Dialectic: Immaturity vs. Autonomy Ankur Gupta Dr. Francesca Draughon IHUM: Myth and Modernity 17 March 2005
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Germany’s history, particularly during the Enlightenment, is often characterized by the various dialectics evident within it. Likewise, some of the primary literary works influenced by this era can be characterized in the same manner. Two works in particular, Wagner’s political opera Lohengrin and W.E.B. Du Bois’ text The Souls of Black Folk , contain dialectics which concern the “immaturity” of the protagonists, an important concept coined by Kant. The transition from “immaturity” to autonomy in both characters is most easily scrutinized using the dialectics presented in both pieces as is the lack of a similar transition in Germany’s political environment during the Enlightenment. The first major dialectic is that of faith vs. disbelief. This is evident in Du Bois’ protagonist John who grew up in the South as the stereotypical child naïve to the world around him. His epiphany concerning the condition of the black people came during his college education, which few people of his pedigree had the opportunity to receive. It was then that he made his transformation from that of the immature and aloof black boy to an informed, autonomous young man. This transformation was coupled with a dampening in his religious zeal. “ ‘To-day,’ he said, with a smile, ‘the world cares little whether a man be Baptist or Methodist, or indeed a churchman at all, so long as he is good and true….Let’s leave all that littleness, and look higher.’” (Du Bois 149). When he expressed this view upon his return, it was not well received. Primarily, he was a
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