Democracy in America


Alexis de Toqueville

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Democracy in America: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Tocqueville asks why Americans, who so prefer plain language, sometimes use pompous, inflated diction on occasion. He answers that while democratic citizens are usually concerned with a small, puny object (themselves), if they try to gaze upon society at large their ideas grow vague and confused. Authors tend to inflate their imaginations without being concerned for accuracy or proportion. He fears that poetry in democracies will continue to lose itself in the clouds and get bogged down with incoherent images and descriptions.
This chapter is essentially an extension of the previous one; Tocqueville’s arguments about democratic poets’ tendency to embrace the destiny of all humankind are directly related to his characterization of democratic language as pompous and inflated. Again, without specific examples it’s not always clear how to independently judge Tocqueville’s considerations.
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