Jess Cook #8
English 11 AP
29 November 2007
One of the most fundamental sorrows that every individual has shared is the feeling of life lacking purpose. Life is so supremely driven by the need for an ultimate goal that when it is absent negativity nearly always ensues. Thus, the struggle to find one’s place in the world is a vital but tortuous undertaking. Very few genuinely achieve this weighty endeavor because a deep sense of purpose is so often skewed by a tendency towards distraction. More often than not, humankind yields to life’s fleeting pleasures. Such senseless deference impedes people from cultivating wisdom, and, consequently, leaves them discontented. In the poem “Nature” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, people consciously allow petty gratifications to deter them from finding value in their existence, resulting in resignation to their lives’ unfolding in vain. Through “Nature,” Longfellow suggests that a submissive attitude towards life results in a fruitless existence and a reluctance to accept death. Humankind’s predisposition to focus on trifling distractions and its inclination to passively accept the trials of life deprive existence of a sense of purpose, which makes demise uncertain and painful.
Longfellow conveys the allure of the temporary and the puerile nature of humans through metaphor, implying that they get in the way of finding meaning in life and are precursors to a quandary with death. These two aspects of life are fully intertwined throughout Longfellow’s account of demise after an unsatisfying existence. Humankind is symbolized by the “child” of the opening stanza, which is representative of the immature attitude with which it sees the world. Longfellow embodies the foolishness of the temporary by characterizing fleeting pleasures as “playthings,” which also represents humankind’s fixation with them. As the child “gazes at them through the open door,” it is clear that trivial distractions, be they material...