Transcendental Critic of the Puritans

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There is no hard definition for Transcendentalism; it varies depending on which group of Transcendentalist one talks to. Webster defines its purpose is to discover the nature of reality by investigating the thought process instead of the objects of sense. The Oxford dictionary implies that divinity can be found in all nature and humanity. Almost all definitions include a search for truth, spiritual goodness, and the nature of reality by studying nature by communing with the human soul or an analysis of the human soul’s interaction with the spirit of God. Also, according to Raziel Abelson, Transcendentalism “…opposed the strict ritualism and dogmatic theology of all established religious institutions” (qtd. in “Brook Farm”). In 1841, a group of Transcendentalists established the Brook Farm formally known as the “Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education”; among that group were American literary and religious leaders such as Amos Bronson Alcott, William Ellery Channing, Charles Anderson Dana, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Theodore Parker, and Orestes Augustus Brownson (“Brook Farm”). It is because of the influence of the Transcendental movement that Hawthorne wrote “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil” where he attempts to demonstrate (perhaps to the Puritan Church, certainly to all who read the stories) that the Puritan Church’s strict and unforgiving orthodoxy was not its greatest strength but its greatest weakness.

In “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne’s overt use of spiritual/metaphysical allegory and symbolism is used to display the sinful nature of man and the possibly tragic consequences of the Puritan Church’s ridged and unwavering demand of sinless purity from its m...

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"Transcendentalism." (n.d.): Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.

"Transcendentalism n." The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, Twelfth edition . Ed. Catherine

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