Study Guide

Henry Adams Writing Styles in The Education of Henry Adams

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Autobiography

Adams uses his life story to illustrate his views of society, history, and education. However, his employment of the third person point of view serves to distance himself and the reader from the intimacy normally associated with the autobiographical form. As he confesses in his preface, the character of Henry Adams is a manikin—a figure adapted to the author's wants. In this case, the character of Adams becomes adapted to the larger purpose of exploring the theme of education that is a series of disillusionment with his "real" life, the promises of education, the United States as a nation, and women.

Other clues in the Preface and allusions scattered throughout the text technically support the conscientious illusion of autobiography and the admitted attempt at spiritual autobiography. In the preface, the figures of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and St. Augustine are invoked. Adams imitates their works to some extent in...

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This section contains 882 words
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The Education of Henry Adams from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.