An Analysis Of Ralph Waldo Emerson And Edgar Allan Poe

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In the literary movement of Romanticism, authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe challenge established ideas of literature through their work, in which the movement began as a rejection of literature based on rational and intellectual thought. This new idea allowed for an emphasis on the individual because intuition and emotion are found within oneself. Although Emerson is commonly associated with transcendentalism and Poe with dark romanticism, they each uphold a common literary principle of the Romantic Era within their work, which is reliance upon oneself. Emerson’s “Self Reliance” and Poe’s “Black Cat” characterize this principle through the emphasis of individualism. In the “Black Cat” Poe’s use of self-reliance is unique as he challenges it through the narrator’s rational explanation of irrational events. Emerson’s “Self Reliance” is extremely indicative of its title as it emphasizes the reliance in one’s self as essential in the transcendentalist journey to find truth. The romantic literary principle, self-reliance, is present in both works, however, the authors’ representation and use of it differs in both texts according to style, subject matter, and genre.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance” is a rational argument attempting to persuade readers to rely on oneself for guidance rather than external influences such as religion, philosophy, books and society. Due to Emerson’s belief that God created everyone unique and with a specific purpose, Emerson argues by trusting in one’s intuition, individuals will be rightfully serving God and developing a closer spiritual relationship with him. Although romanticism is associated with the rejection of reason and intellectual thought, Emerson uses these as ...

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...sistency. Remaining consistent, did not endanger the narrator’s “oneness” but rather heightened it as the axe was buried into his wife’s brain, committing a more evil sin and further transcending his soul past the point of even the most terrible God. Poe’s use of consistency did not inhibit one’s progress but took it one step further.
Emerson’s argument for self-reliance was based in reason and logic and used emotional literary devices to highlight the importance of his argument. Poe, however, used emotion and irrationalities as the basis of his work, however, used reason as a device to challenge self-reliance. Emerson represents self-reliance through an argument where Poe represents self-reliance through irrationalities. Although, the authors’ representation and use of self-reliance differs in both texts, the romantic literary principle is present in both works.
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