Charles Brockden Brown: Sleepwalking Through America

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Basic History: Charles Brockden Brown was a novelist commonly known to readers of early American literature as one who wrote short stories and novels discussing personal conflicts and agon y. Brown along with Shakespeare, Bellini, and many other writers, philosophers, etc., have incorporated the medical disorder of sleepwalking into their plays, novels, and operas . WebMD defines sleepwalking, medically known as somnambulism, as a parasomnia that involves undesired events that come alongside sleeping. According to Charles Brockden Brown: Sleepwalking Through America, s ocial conditions were the cause of sleepwalking and its murderous consequences in the novel Edgar Huntly or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker and best known short story, Somnambulism:…show more content…
It is common during childhood (ages 4-8), but can affect adults as well. During the time of sleepwalking a person’s eyes are open with a glassy stare and may engage in actions out of the ordinary, resulting in behavior that is violent and hostile. Lack of remembrance is usually the main result of a person engaging in sleepwalking. Not only are you unknowledgeable of your actions but you are also unfamiliar with your surroundings. Edgar writes, “He passed me, however, without appearing to notice my existence. He came so near as almost to brush my arm, yet turned not his head to either side” (11.) This is one of the first instances where Edgar acknowledges Clithero undergoing an episode of sleepwalking. In many instances the individual suffering from sleepwalking, like Clithero, may begin to release some of their inner thoughts and desires: “Yet I was anew distressed at the discovery that my thoughts found their way to my lips, without my being conscious of it, and that my steps wandered forth unknowingly and without the guidance of my will” (84). Causes of somnambulism include: genetics, sleep deprivation, stress, intoxication, drug usage, and a chaotic sleep schedule

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