, Research Paper
In this prose, The Education of Henry Adams , Adams had chosen to use a third- person perspective to present the reader his life. In Chapter I, Quincy (1838-1848) , Adams had actually acted as a narrator to describe his early life and express his special feeling about Quincy, and how his ancestors influenced him.
Henry Adams was born Feb. 16, 1838, in Boston, Mass. His grandfather and his great-grandfather, John Adams, had been presidents of the United States. His father was Charles Francis Adams, a noted statesman. As a child, he said, he felt he really belonged to Quincy, Mass., where his grandfather, John Quincy Adams, lived.
Yet he felt also that Quincy was in a way inferior to Boston, and that socially Boston looked down on Quincy. The reason was clear enough even to a five-year-old child. Quincy had no Boston style.
The above has shown that the young Adams believed that Quincy had a character, which acted differently to the expectation of the rest of the society. In fact, he had acknowledged since he was young of how the norms of the surroundings looked like:
The true Bostonian always knelt in self-abasement before the majesty of English standards; far from concealing it as a weakness, he was proud of it as his strength. The eighteenth century ruled society long after 1850.
However, young Henry Adams, like most young people, initially saw the world as divided between truth and error, good and evil. Thanks to his native optimism and, no doubt, also to his own illustrious ancestors, he had every reason to believe that God was provident and that the virtuous would forever prevail in this country, himself most of all. That s why he rebelled, he objected.
Perhaps the boy began to shake it off rather earlier than most of his mates.
He also emphasized that what he believed, that is his rebellion to the society was right.
Even then he felt that something was wrong, but he concluded that it must be Boston. Quincy had always been right, for Quincy represented a moral principle, Xthe principle of resistance to Boston.
We can clearly see Adams rebellion. This had again implied that Adams totally agreed with the character of Quincy, which the people should eliminate the old-fashioned minds and norms.
However, on the other hand, the great tragedy of Henry Adams, and the fatal flaw of the prose is that he embraced the dynamo. This need not have been the case; he had actually been prepared by his early education to fight it:
The atmosphere of education in which he lived was colonial, revolutionary, almost Cromwellian, as though he were steeped, from his greatest grandmother s birth, in the odor of political crime. Resistance to something was the law of New England nature; the boy looked out on the world with the instinct of resistance; for numberless generations his predecessors had viewed the world chiefly as a thing to be reformed, filled with evil forces to be abolished, and they saw no reason to suppose that they had wholly succeeded in the abolition; the duty was unchanged. That duty implied not only resistance to evil, but hatred of it. Boys naturally look on all force as an enemy, and generally find it so, but the New Englander, whether boy or man, in his long struggle with a stingy or hostile universe, had learned also to love the pleasure of hating; his joys were few.
That this brilliant and capable man, trained for the battle against evil, whose great grandfather fought for inalienable rights endowed by a Creator, should have come at the end of his life to the point where he accepted the dynamo, and the naked force, anarchy and existentialism which it implied, must diminish him in our eyes. The gist of the book is that his education was a miseducation, preparing him for a world that had passed or was passing. In fact, his education prepared him for the central battle of the modern age, against the loss of faith, but he instead collaborated with the enemy, and so, did fail in the final analysis to measure up to his illustrious ancestors.
Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams: Quincy (1838-1848) , http://www.bartleby.com/159/1.html, http://www.bartleby.com (2001)