Civil War In Walt Whitman's O Captain ! My Captain

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Have you ever experienced both happiness and sorrow at the same time? Walt Whitman, in “O Captain! My Captain!,” incorporates sadness over the death of President Lincoln and happiness about the victory of the North and the end of the Civil War. The Civil War (1861-1865) was set on American soil where Americans fought against Americans. The North (Union) wanted unity of the country and the end of slavery, while the South (Confederacy) wanted separation and the continuation of slavery. The war ended with a Union victory in 1865. The Civil War affected Walt Whitman’s writing of “O Captain! My Captain!;” he saw Abraham Lincoln as a much respected hero to him and he supported the fight to end slavery. Walt Whitman was born in 1819 in West Hills,…show more content…
My Captain!” is an example of a threnody, which is a lament or elegy for the dead. Walt Whitman was inspired by Abraham Lincoln, whom he considered to be the greatest patriot who ever lived. He was devastated by the fact that President Lincoln was killed before he could see the country being united again and receiving any honors for his part in that. Whitman uses metaphors to convey the description of the Civil War era. He depicts America as a ship, the Civil War as a journey, and President Lincoln as the captain of the ship. The poem appears to be written by a sailor mourning his dead captain. There are several significant quotes in “O Captain! My Captain!” One of the quotes is “O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells.” In this, Whitman is referring to the bells in two different settings: one in which the bells are rung in celebration of a military victory, and also the bells symbolize funeral bells tolling for the death of the captain. The words “rise up” indicate that Whitman would like to think the captain was still alive and it was all a bad dream. Another quote, “Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills,.” Referring to both the flag and the bugle, they both could have double meanings. The flag being flung could represent solidarity of the Union or flying at half mast, symbolizing the death of President Lincoln. The bugle is used in patriotic music played for a united country and also for playing Taps at a funerals. This poem…show more content…
My Captain!” represents an accurate depiction of the actions and death of Abraham Lincoln and the damage done to America during this time. Walt Whitman, a writer and a poet, was greatly touched and influenced by the greatness of Abraham Lincoln and his ability to end the war. He was inspired to write this poem about a fearful trip which ended badly for President Lincoln. If you read between the lines in “O Captain! My Captain!,” you will see metaphors being used as ways to symbolize the tragic events of the Civil War and the untimely death of Abraham Lincoln. Patriotism was at an all time high at the end of the war, and the irony of the situation was that the great leader that made this victory possible was not there to see the rewards and receive the honors due to
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