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Essay on Transcendentalism

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Emerson and Thoreau and their Perspectives of Transcendentalism

Imagine a world where each individual thought for himself, not allowing other

outside influences to mold his ideas. We currently live in a society in which a single clip

on television, quote from a newspaper, or opinion from a peer can consequently

determine how one thinks or the outlook they have on a topic.

In "Self-Reliance," Emerson states, "A man should learn to detect and watch that

gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than luster of the

firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, just because

it is his." In this quote Emerson is elaborating on the idea that we must all exude

intellectual independence and nonconformity. Why do we rely on others to determine the

way we think, act, dress and speak? Thoreau and Emerson both tried to incorporate this

idea into their writings. When an individual allows others to influence his own ideas he

is rendered weak-minded and ignorant. An individual must think for themselves in order

to achieve a true sense of self.

Thoreau often emphasizes the necessity to follow one's destiny. If one follows

his dream, he will be able to live a life full of happiness and joy. He will experience

more freedom and become more spiritually fulfilled in his new way of life. Moreover, he

will only achieve this once he has given up parts of his past customs. By living more

simply, he will be fully satisfied with his new habits that do not focus on the pecuniary

aspects of life. If he has already spent the previous part of his life satisfying his material

wants, he has not completely wasted his li...


... middle of paper ...


...eart, is true for all men,-that is genius." This means that

we set the principles in which we live by and how we view ourselves as a person. We

view the world through our own eyes and all interpret life around us differently.

Although these pieces of literature were written over one-hundred years ago we

can still see the importance that could potentially have a dramatic affect on the way we

view the world and society as a whole. Thoreau and Emerson both incorporated these

ideas of individuality into their works allowing the readers to think for themselves. In a

way you can almost say that really we are truly the ones who give definition to the essay,

taking from it not necessarily their thoughts but what we extracted from it....but then

again maybe that's exactly what they intended.


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