Conformism In Allen Ginsberg's Howl

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Allen Ginsberg 's "Howl" is a thought-provoking piece used to epitomize and give a voice to the Beat Movement of the mid-20th century as they sought to soundly reject nearly every aspect of society. Within his writing, Ginsberg is quite literally "howling" his frustration and anger regarding the conformism that he perceives as plaguing the population. He seeks to abolish and defeat those narrow standards by illuminating this issue and protesting the havoc it has wreaked on even the best, most brilliant minds of his time. In what could likely be labeled as an early forerunner to more modern calls for non-conformist action, Ginsberg employs vivid imagery, anaphora, and allusion to convey his message as he uses his writing as a canvas to paint…show more content…
Rather than explicitly stating that the poem takes place in New York City, he chooses to make reference to occurrences such as, "the endless ride from Battery to holy Bronx" (14). Ginsberg 's name-dropping of these famous boroughs and locations like the Empire State Building allows readers to easily conclude the setting. Perhaps Ginsberg 's purpose for not directly stating the setting is to reflect the ambiguous morals of society at the time. This specific setting also contributes to the overarching theme of conformity because New York is known for its daunting skylines and busy, imposing metropolitan atmosphere, wherein it seems that everyone always has a place to be, however, with that sense of purpose only revolving around these artificial constructs of civilization. Ginsberg uses the literary element of allusion again when he says, "who talked continuously seventy hours from park to pad to bar to Bellevue to museum to the Brooklyn Bridge" (16). While still alluding to the scenery of New York City, he introduces Bellevue, America 's oldest mental hospital known particularly for its notorious psychiatric ward. By introducing a venue associated with psychosis, it furthers the desired setting and overall feeling of a highly chaotic environment he is intending to create for his
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