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In American literature peoples greatest struggle has been to find and discover ones own self through the concept of Individualism This is a philosophy that places high value on the freedom of autonomous individuals Self-reliance is also a key By analyzing four literary works The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain The Awakening by Kate Chopin Billy Budd by Herman Melville and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand several different portrayals of Individualism are introduced Although the different time periods and settings of these novels cause the authors to delineate this philosophy in different ways one idea remains constant throughout each of these works It is the idea that society is flawed and that Individualism is the ideal goal of humanity with only the social restraints of the world in the way In each novel the individual serves as the mediator between morals and social values deciding which of the two should be followed constantly stressing to the reader that it is not as important to be accepted as it is to stand up and support what one believes in even if it results in social censure Based on Herman Melvilles life at sea Billy Budd tells the story of a handsome young sailor whose individualistic nature innocence and naivet lead to his tragic death for a crime committed justifiably A sailor himself the author bases Billy Budds main theme on one of his own past experiences While at sea Melvilles cousin Guert Gansevoort had ordered three men hanged He confronts a similar issue asking which side is right moral justice or social law Melville portrays Billy Budd as the victim of a society who thinks that sticking to traditions and set laws takes precedence over what is correct morally One technique that the author uses in proving his point is contrasting the traits of another character John Claggart with those of Billy In this novel Claggart represents humanity while Billy symbolizes morality and
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