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Last Essay!!! English 3 Lesson 180: 2500 word essay

I have to confess that a while ago I started working on this term paper and somehow forgot to finish it, but thankfully I double checked and came across it and I’m here to finish and repost it. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

How important has the theme of optimism been in the development of Western literature since 1493?

Before getting into today’s topic, I’d like to briefly discuss about my journey throughout this course. There’s a reason why the producers of this program say that this is a self-discipline course, because if you get just a tiny bit lazy you could get yourself behind throughout the course and I wanna encourage those that are doing these course, or plan to start, don’t procrastinate. I tried before and it didn’t get me anywhere good, but when I actually put in some effort it was really refreshing to actually understand what I’m reading and listening about. What helped me get through the course is some motivation. Sometimes we just get so caught up in these assignments that we forget what we do them in the first place for. For example, if there’s something you wanna study to get a job earlier, but you have to finish the course first, then you could get motivated to get it done so then you can go and study. Or maybe there’s a certain topic you’re interested in, so you would do your best to understand it because you actually have desire learning more about it. Whatever it may be pro-tip get yourself a reason to continue self-teaching without procrastinating. 😄

During this specific course, Western literature part 3, we’ve been covering a lot of themes, stories, and books about the ideas that the authors are trying to present, mostly about religion or other political ideas. Just like the other courses relating Western Literature, each story has its own target audience and a certain message. In this course, no matter how heated a subject can be or how argumentative it is, the authors were trying to end it on a good note and be optimistic about their views in the end, which would make sense, because who would want to listen to someone’s idea if they are being pushy or too negative. Right?

Soo, what does it mean to be optimistic? It means to expect the absolute best in all things regardless of the situation. An optimistic person will be hopeful about the best possible outcome that occurs, even if the situation seems dire. In the 16th century, when the printing press was invented, it opened doors to various authors, even the lower class people were able to be a bit more active in their writing skills. Historically speaking, there was no longer a vision of Christendom and the current Christians wrote about life after death, using the invention of the printing press. The Bible is filled with a lot of controversy and argumentative discussions, however there is great optimism which is the gospel (meaning the good news) and it hasn’t been written by one author, but many witnesses wrote the gospel, which is one of the reasons Christianity sets apart from other religions. This has been possible through the printing press, which helped get more and more copies of the Bible to share the gospel which is the optimism of the Bible. It’s not just the Bible that has its optimism spread everywhere by the help of the printing press, but many other stories by other authors that want to share their opinions.



The theme of optimism has played a significant role in the development of Western literature since 1493. This period, which began with the Age of Discovery and the Renaissance, witnessed a marked shift in worldview and inspired an artistic and intellectual rebirth. This essay will explore the importance of optimism in the development of Western literature by examining various literary movements, authors, and works from the Renaissance to the present day.

I. Renaissance (14th to 17th centuries)

The Renaissance was a period of cultural and intellectual rejuvenation that swept across Europe. It was characterized by a renewed interest in classical learning, the arts, and humanism. This newfound optimism is reflected in the literature of the time, which embraced the human potential for greatness and the belief that individuals could shape their own destinies.

Key authors and works that embody the spirit of optimism in Renaissance literature include:

Dante Alighieri: “The Divine Comedy” (1308-1320) – Dante’s epic poem takes the reader on a journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven, ultimately illustrating the triumph of divine justice and the potential for human redemption.

William Shakespeare: “As You Like It” (1599) – This comedic play explores themes of love, forgiveness, and the power of transformation, showcasing the potential for human growth and happiness.

II. Enlightenment (18th century)

The Enlightenment was a period of intellectual and philosophical progress that ushered in an era of optimism and reason. The movement was characterized by a belief in the power of human rationality and the conviction that individuals could make the world a better place through reason, scientific inquiry, and social reform.

Key authors and works that reflect the optimism of the Enlightenment include:

Voltaire: “Candide” (1759) – In this satirical novel, Voltaire critiques blind optimism, but ultimately suggests that rationality and personal effort can lead to a better life.

Jonathan Swift: “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726) – Although a satirical work, Swift’s novel conveys an underlying optimism about the potential for human progress through reason and inquiry.

III. Romanticism (late 18th to mid-19th centuries)

Romanticism emerged as a response to the Enlightenment’s rationalism and the Industrial Revolution’s dehumanization. The movement celebrated the power of the imagination, the beauty of nature, and the potential for individual self-realization.


Key authors and works that embody the optimism of Romanticism include:

William Wordsworth: “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” (1798) – Wordsworth’s poem asserts the healing power of nature and the potential for spiritual growth.

Mary Shelley: “Frankenstein” (1818) – Despite its dark themes, Shelley’s novel promotes optimism through the belief in humanity’s capacity for compassion and the potential for redemption.

IV. Transcendentalism (mid-19th century)

Transcendentalism, an American literary and philosophical movement, emphasized the importance of individualism, self-reliance, and the divinity of nature. The movement fostered an optimistic view of human potential and spiritual growth.

Key authors and works that exemplify the optimism of Transcendentalism include:

Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Self-Reliance” (1841) – In this essay, Emerson encourages individuals to trust their instincts and believe in their own abilities to create a better world.

Henry David Thoreau: “Walden” (1854) – Thoreau’s account of his time spent in solitude and communion with nature reveals an optimistic faith in human potential and the transformative power of nature.

V. Realism and Naturalism (late 19th to early 20th centuries)

Realism and Naturalism emerged as literary movements that sought to portray life as it truly was, often focusing on the harsh realities of the human condition. Despite the sometimes pessimistic themes, these movements also offered a sense of optimism through the belief that literature could inspire social change and promote empathy.


Key authors and works that express optimism in Realism and Naturalism include:

Charles Dickens: “A Tale of Two Cities” (1859) – Dickens’ novel, set during the French Revolution, highlights the possibility of redemption and the power of love in the face of adversity.

Émile Zola: “Germinal” (1885) – Zola’s novel, which depicts the harsh conditions faced by coal miners, demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit and the potential for social change.

VI. Modernism (late 19th to mid-20th centuries)

Modernism was a literary movement characterized by experimentation and a break from traditional narrative structures. The movement grappled with the disillusionment and uncertainty of the early 20th century, but also conveyed a sense of optimism through the belief in the power of art and the individual’s capacity for self-discovery.


Key authors and works that embody the optimism of Modernism include:

James Joyce: “Ulysses” (1922) – Joyce’s groundbreaking novel showcases the potential for human connection and self-realization through the everyday experiences of its characters.

T.S. Eliot: “The Waste Land” (1922) – Although often seen as a pessimistic portrayal of the post-World War I era, Eliot’s poem also offers a glimmer of hope through the potential for spiritual rebirth and renewal.

VII. Postmodernism (mid-20th to late 20th centuries)

Postmodernism emerged as a reaction to Modernism, characterized by skepticism, irony, and a questioning of absolute truths. Despite its often cynical tone, Postmodern literature also contained an undercurrent of optimism, particularly in its celebration of individuality and its exploration of multiple perspectives.

Key authors and works that demonstrate the optimism of Postmodernism include:

Kurt Vonnegut: “Slaughterhouse-Five” (1969) – Vonnegut’s satirical novel, which explores the absurdity of war and the human condition, ultimately conveys a sense of hope through its portrayal of human resilience.

Thomas Pynchon: “Gravity’s Rainbow” (1973) – Pynchon’s complex and sprawling novel delves into the chaos of the modern world, but also suggests the possibility of finding meaning and connection amidst the confusion.


*Major event that occurred in the 14th century*

While there were many significant events during the 14th century, the most important event was arguably the outbreak of the Black Death, also known as the Bubonic Plague. The Black Death was a devastating pandemic that swept across Europe between 1347 and 1351, killing an estimated 75-200 million people, or approximately one-third of Europe’s population at the time.

The Black Death had profound and far-reaching consequences for European society. The massive loss of life led to labor shortages, which in turn contributed to social, economic, and political upheaval. Peasants demanded higher wages, challenging the existing feudal system and leading to a shift towards a more market-driven economy. The widespread suffering and death also undermined people’s faith in the Church, as it was unable to provide an explanation for or protection from the plague.

Additionally, the Black Death had a significant impact on the arts and literature of the time. The grim reality of the pandemic led to a more somber and introspective tone in many artistic works, as well as a renewed focus on the fragility of human life and the importance of moral and spiritual values.

Some other major events are:
~ The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453): This prolonged conflict between England and France was characterized by intermittent periods of warfare and truce. The war had a profound impact on both countries, influencing politics, military tactics, and national identities. It also saw the emergence of significant historical figures, such as Joan of Arc, who played a key role in rallying French forces during the later stages of the war.

~ The rise of the Ottoman Empire (1299-1922): The 14th century marked the beginning of the Ottoman Empire’s expansion into Europe under the leadership of Sultan Orhan and later, Sultan Murad I. The Ottomans’ conquest of the Balkans and their victory over the Serbs at the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 laid the foundation for their future dominance in Southeastern Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean.


Major events during this time

The invention of the printing press: In 1450, a man named Johannes Gutenberg invented a machine that could print books much faster than before. This made books cheaper and more people could learn to read and write, which helped spread new ideas across Europe.
The Age of Exploration: During the Renaissance, many European explorers like Christopher Columbus, Vasco da Gama, and Ferdinand Magellan set sail to discover new lands and trade routes. This brought new cultures, goods, and knowledge to Europe.

II. Enlightenment (18th century)

Scientific Revolution: Many scientists like Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and Johannes Kepler made groundbreaking discoveries in fields like physics, astronomy, and mathematics. This revolution changed the way people saw the world and made them believe in the power of reason and logic.
American Revolution: In 1776, thirteen British colonies in North America declared their independence from Britain and formed the United States of America. The ideas of the Enlightenment, like freedom and democracy, were important in shaping the new nation.

III. Romanticism (late 18th to mid-19th centuries)

French Revolution: In 1789, the people of France rose up against their king and started a revolution. The revolution aimed to create a more equal society and was inspired by the ideas of Romanticism, like individualism and the power of emotions.
Industrial Revolution: This was a time when new inventions and machines changed the way goods were made and how people lived. Factories were built, and more people moved to cities to work in them. The Romantic writers often criticized the negative effects of industrialization on people and nature.

IV. Transcendentalism (mid-19th century)

Abolitionist movement: Many people in the United States, including Transcendentalist writers like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, fought against slavery and worked to end it. They believed in the equality and dignity of all human beings.
Women’s rights movement: During this time, women like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought for equal rights for women, including the right to vote. Transcendentalists supported these movements and believed in the power of individuals to bring about change.

V. Realism and Naturalism (late 19th to early 20th centuries)

Urbanization: More people moved to cities for work, and this led to crowded living conditions and social problems. Realist and Naturalist writers often focused on these issues in their works.
Labor movement: Workers started to organize and fight for better working conditions, fair wages, and the right to form unions. Realist and Naturalist authors sometimes wrote about the struggles of these workers and the need for social change.

VI. Modernism (late 19th to mid-20th centuries)

World War I: This was a devastating war that involved many countries and led to the death of millions of people. The horrors of the war influenced Modernist writers, who began to question traditional values and beliefs.
The Great Depression: In the 1930s, a severe economic crisis called the Great Depression affected many countries. People lost their jobs and struggled to survive. Modernist authors often wrote about the challenges people faced during this difficult time.

VII. Postmodernism (mid-20th to late 20th centuries)

World War II: This was another devastating war that led to the deaths of millions of people, including the Holocaust, where six million Jews were killed. Postmodernist writers often explored the complexity and uncertainty of the world after this war. The Civil Rights Movement: In the 1950s and 1960s, African Americans and their allies in the United States fought for equal rights and an end to racial segregation. Postmodernist authors often addressed themes of social justice and the importance of individual voices in their works.

The Cold War: After World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union became rivals and engaged in a long period of political and military tension called the Cold War. This time of global uncertainty influenced Postmodernist writers, who often questioned the idea of absolute truths and explored the complexities of modern society.

The rise of digital technology: Towards the end of the 20th century, computers and the internet began to change the way people communicated, worked, and lived. Postmodernist authors sometimes explored the effects of technology on society and the individual, often using new and experimental writing styles to reflect the changing world.

The theme of optimism has played a crucial role in the development of Western literature since 1493. Throughout various literary movements, such as the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Transcendentalism, Realism, Naturalism, Modernism, and Postmodernism, optimism has consistently emerged as a driving force behind the works of many authors. The optimistic outlooks found in literature often revolve around themes such as human potential, the power of love and connection, redemption, resilience, and the possibility of change and growth. By incorporating optimism into their works, authors have contributed to a literary tradition that reflects the inherent hope, creativity, and adaptability of the human spirit, inspiring readers and shaping the cultural narrative across generations.


Thank you for reading this essay! I hope you enjoyed reading it or learned something new! I’ll be posting more soon so stay tuned! If you haven’t done so yet, feel free to check out:

Good News Store!!!


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