‘Modern Chivalry’ is an American novel based on Captain John Farrago, who is portrayed as the American frontier Don Quixote. He departs from Pennsylvania to take a “ride” around the world accompanied by his servant Teague presumably to observe human nature. His comparison to Don Quixote is quite justified given the overall themes and the capricious nature of the main character. To many, it is considered the first important work of American fiction. Among the structural devices employed in the text is the exhibition of the opinion encapsulated as processions or cross sections of humanity. In fact, different characters are shown to exhibit very diverse opinions and perceptions in life.
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The Captain’s experiences take him to places where he has to encounter crowds. This serves as a very convenient mechanism through which the author can unite in the context of a myriad of contradicting viewpoints. In the various scenes, which range from a marketplace, or the town meeting, the author is able to introduce the reader to the instances from which the opinions and perceptions, which act as the basis of the present freedom and expressionism of the American people.
Brackenridge points out several social, political and economic issues, which emerge in the resultant confusion when many people analyze each other, especially in an informal setting. It is worth noting that when he demonstrates the marshaling or particularly articulate mob, he manages to critique the underlying danger of mobocracy and create a satirical description of the voices in the procession, which are no less stereotyped than any similar ex post facto satire.
At the village fair, the author capitalizes on the opportunity to introduce a multiplicity of characters that embody the spirit of dialogues on revolution in the educational and economic spheres, as well as the role of politicians in the running of government. These characters include the Chapman or the Tinker, who is seen as a moral man. There is the revolutionist, O‘Dell and others, such as a seller of patent cures, a rude man, a wise man and even a naturalist. In a way, Brackenridge is trying to paint the picture of a revolutionist society.
In fact, he wishes to underscore the fact that everyone has a role to play irrespective of the diversity of his or her profession or personal attributes. In several ways, ‘Modern Chivalry’ can be thought of as a huge canvas rather than just a book. There are innumerable caricatures in the many crowded scenes, although the majority of them only appear temporarily and disappear after making their contribution to the dialogue. Despite the brevity of their appearances, the reader is sharply made aware of each since they are so different and remarkable in their own ways.
The combination includes a mad poet, German farmer fashion lady and senator, just to mention a few. Brackenridge parades several such individuals who are used to either overtly or covertly contribute to the overall irony in the theme. At the end of the day, one cannot help but notice the babelian overflow of confusing and often contradicting characters. It is evident that, beneath the overlying satire, there is an organic element of the work in which the writer demonstrates the struggle to forge a common unity from diversity, which is the reality of the US today.