How Optimism of 19th C American Society is reflected in Looking Backward

HowOptimism of 19thC American Society is reflected in LookingBackward

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Optimismin Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward”

Optimismof the modern American society of the 19thcentury is reflected by Edward Bellamy in a number of ways. First,Bellamy reflects the optimism by presenting a new society that willbe better that the current as seen in the experiences of Julian Westin his utopian world. In order to present this utopian optimism, theauthor explores how human reason can be applied to solve problems byapplying logical solutions to the American society. A good example iswhen the author explains from a utopian point of view that a solutionshould not be the one that is unaccounted-for residuum1.Through the dialogue of Julian West and Dr. Leete, the authorexplains that the solution for the problems facing human beings,especially the American society will be arrived at when acivilization is established with modern ideas2.This shows that the American society embraced modernity at the time,with a futuristic hope of living a better future which reflectsoptimism.

Secondly,the book reflects the 19thCentury optimism for America by addressing the solutions to theproblems that the society faced at the time. These solutions arepresented in the book in the form of a practical life of a utopianAmerica, more than a century later. For example, the trading problemsthat face America are addressed in a way that shows America to be aleader. Dr. Leete explains to Julian West that America is a strongnation that pioneered the industrial revolution that marked theorganized countries like Europe, Australia and South America3.This shows optimism that the modern American society will continue tolead the way, despite the crisis that the country was facing at thetime in the 19thCentury.


Bellamy,Edward.LookingBackward.Boston: Project Gutenberg, 1887

1 Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward. Boston: Project Gutenberg, 1887, pg 47

2 Ibid 1

3 Bellamy, Edward. Looking Backward. Boston: Project Gutenberg, 1887, page 49

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