Image of the Noble Savage in Literature Criticism: The Noble Savage In The New World - Essay

Lewis O. Saum (essay date 1963)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Saum, Lewis O. “The Fur Trader and the Noble Savage”. American Quarterly 15 (1963): 554-71.

[In the following essay, Saum examines the writings of the fur traders of North America, many of which portray natives as being corrupted by European settlers.]

In narrating his experiences in the Far-North as trader and explorer, Samuel Hearne of the Hudson's Bay Company included a lengthy treatment of that fascinating animal, the beaver. In doing so, “honest old Hearne,” as a nineteenth-century bibliographer called him,1 felt the obligation to temper glowing accounts of the beaver written by people with inadequate knowledge. According to him, they...

(The entire section is 7858 words.)

Francis Jennings (essay date 1971)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Jennings, Francis. “Savage Form for Peasant Function.” In The Invasion of America: Indians, Colonialism, and the Cant of Conquest, pp. 58-84. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1975.

[In the following essay, originally presented in 1971, Jennings argues that the English conception of the natives of North America continually changed to better fit the purposes of the colonists, whewther as trading allies or military enemies.]

In his book on the Canadian fur trade, Harold A. Innis has conceived of the contact between Europe and the Americas, not as a collision of civilization and savagery, but as a meeting of two civilizations, one relatively...

(The entire section is 10500 words.)

Richard C. Shaner (essay date 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Shaner, Richard C. “Simms and the Noble Savage.” American Transcendental Quarterly 30, no. 1 (spring 1976): 18-21.

[In the following essay, Shaner analyzes William Gilmore Simm's work The Yemassee, where the Native American is depicted as a creature who needed to be subject to the white man.]

By the time nineteenth-century American novelists were writing of the colonization of America, the lives and cultures of the Indian tribes already were obscured not merely by change and passage of time, but by the world view of the European. The same is true of the land. Whatever the American wilderness was in its existential reality, Western man seems to have...

(The entire section is 2788 words.)

Olive Patricia Dickason (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Dickason, Olive Patricia. “L'Homme Sauvage.” In The Myth of the Savage: And the Beginnings of French Colonialism in the Americas, pp. 61-84. Edmonton: The University of Alberta Press, 1984.

[In the following essay, Dickason traces the development of the European view of Amerindians, arguing that the European view of Native Americans as savages discounts their cultural and political systems.]

Europe's discovery of the Amerindian is usually represented as affording her the first large-scale encounter with man living in a state of nature.1 According to this view, that discovery was largely responsible for the development of the European idea of...

(The entire section is 11735 words.)

Roy Harvey Pearce (essay date 1988)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Pearce, Roy Harvey. “The Virtues of Nature: The Image in Drama and Poetry.” In Savagism and Civilization: A Study of the Indian and the American Mind, pp. 169-95. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.

[In the following essay, Pearce examines how the colonists of America viewed the Native American, beginning with the romantic idea of the Noble Savage, but later viewing the Native American as simply savage.]

The indian over whom Americans finally triumphed was he whom they put in their plays, poems, and stories. New-rich in their discovery of the possibility of a national culture, they were certain that they could find the Indian's place in the...

(The entire section is 9141 words.)