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Additional info for American Romanticism: Volume 1: From Cooper to Hawthorne
100). Yet he is also endowed with a preternatural energy that at times makes him more than a little reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's Father William. His 'noiseless step', 'in conjunction with his great age and attenuated frame, sometimes gave to his movements and aspect the character of a being superior to the attributes of humanity' (p. 392). Ralph gives credence to this attribution by his subsequent exploits behind the American lines: But Ralph, whose unencumbered person and iron frame, which seemed to mock the ravages of time, gave a vast superiority over the impeded progress of the other, moved swiftly ahead, waving his hand on high, as if to indicate his intention to join in the flight, while he led the way into the fields adjacent to the churchyard they had quitted.
In the Transcendentalist celebration of the divine man the way was opened towards the development of an unlimited human potential, while in Jacksonian democracy the excessive hero, instead of standing against the crowd, would most likely be carried along on their shoulders. So it would seem that the excessive hero can be taken to express everything that is present in American society, instead of everything that is absent. And yet there is a social critique in the American writers, even if it is often somewhat obliquely expressed.
Frances's deeply felt response to landscape actually becomes the means whereby she becomes alerted both to the cottage where Birch and Harper rendezvous and then to the presence of Harvey himself. While she is seated on a rock to 'rest and admire', her eye is caught by a 'solitary gleam' which strikes the mountain at which she is gazing and throws the concealed hut into prominence: With a feeling of awe at being thus unexpectedly admitted, as it were into the secrets of that desert place, Frances gazed intently, until, among the scattered trees and fantastic rocks, something like a rude structure was seen.