Emerson and Thoreau Represent American Identity Essay

Emerson and Thoreau Represent American Identity Essay

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Compare and contrast the way in which Emerson and Thoreau represent American Identity.

“Identity means who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group which make them different from others,” (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Third Edition). Every individual, group and country has their own identity which makes them different from others and it shows uniqueness of oneself. Reaction against the existing philosophy takes place when there is conflict in interest amongst the philosophers. It was from the late eighteenth century until mid nineteenth century that the philosophical and literary movement (Transcendental Movement) took place in America as a result of extreme rationalism of the enlightenment. “Transcendentalism, an idealist philosophical tendency among writers in and around Boston in the mid-19th century. Growing out of Christian Unitarianism in the 1830s under the influence of German and British Romanticism, transcendentalism affirmed Kant’s principle of intuitive knowledge not derived from the senses, while rejecting organized religion for an extremely individualistic celebration of the divinity in each human being” (Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms, p. 262). Thus, being the transcendentalists, both Emerson and Thoreau represented American Identity by influencing American to participate in the construction of American identity through their writings and actions. Therefore, this essay will compare and contrast the way in which Emerson and Thoreau represented American Identity; firstly it will argue Emerson’s influence on the American scholars to create American Identity through creation of an intellectual scholars, which was unique and free from European influence and secondly it will discuss th...


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... really awakened the people and society on the whole to work on creating and establishing the real American identity. “The American Dream, the belief that everyone in the US has the chance to be successful, rich and happy if they work hard,” (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Third Edition). Emerson and Thoreau are the men who made the American Dream come true in New England in the 1830s and continued through the 1840s and 1850s, but the energy that had earlier made Transcendentalism a unique movement to create American Identity had subsided for several reasons.



Works Cited

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, Third Edition.
Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms by Chris Baldick.
The American Scholar by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
The Bedford Anthology of American Literature by Susan Belasco and Linck Johnson.

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