Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Skeleton in Armor" functions as a strong philosophical tale that celebrates the history of America. By using exotic settings such as Norway, Newfoundland and various frozen tundra, the poet is able to captivate the reader while taking him on a trip through the history of an ancient Viking. Throughout this poem, the ideals of freedom and other American morals can be seen in the hero's journey to find a land free from the oppression of a King, much like that of America. Thus, the writing takes the position of a tale of glory for not only the fabled warrior, but the country in which he found sanctity as well.
The poem itself is melodic in nature, which adds to the allure that the poem would have on an 1850's reader. The AAABCCCB rhyme scheme accompanied by versification also makes the work not only pleasant, but easy to read as well. Longfellow's use of vivid imagery such as "With my skates fast-bound, Skimmed the half-frozen sound," (Perkins and Perkins, The American Tradition in Literature 353) along with good vocabulary and archaic words develops a world of fantasy in the reader's mind. Various sound devices like repetition, alliteration, and parallel structure aid in developing the poem's appeal to a fireside audience.
Even though "Skeleton in Armor" was produced in the 1850's, it still typifies the lingering American idealism and romanticism of that time and today. This is due to the strong tale of freedom of oppression and the exotic realm in which it takes place. The old cliché of saving the fair maiden from the evil father also exists within the story. Thus, one can see why this poem displays classic American ideas and philosophies.
This essay is an original work. Please give credit when citing. Thank you.