Trascendentalism and Ralph Waldo Emerson

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There have been countless religious rebellions throughout history, but none quite like that of Transcendentalism. At the time of the movement’s birth, newly acquired religious freedom in the United States allowed for new ideas and beliefs to blossom freely. Ideas and beliefs that the public and government previously greeted with bitter rejection. At the heart of Transcendentalism lied its most famous ambassadors, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his apprentice, Henry David Thoreau. Although Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau shared similar views and beliefs relating to Transcendentalism, the approach each author took in writing and making the ideas that were so important concrete was not always so closely related. Transcendentalism encompasses the idea that spiritual growth can be achieved through a rigorous personal journey as apposed to organized religion, and both authors express their ideas on religion a little bit differently. Emerson believed that nature was the purest physical form of the divine, and that an individual could develop a better personal relationship with God through time spent one on one in nature. In “Nature”, one of the author’s most famous works, Emerson expresses his ideas in imagery-filled sentences. For example, “In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair” (488). Emerson whole-heartedly believed that nature was potentially the answer to nearly every one of life’s riddles and that once a person was completely connected to nature, only then could they achieve total inner peace. The authors of the article, “Ralph Waldo Emerson” try to simplify Emerson’s beliefs with statements such... ... middle of paper ... .... Shorter 6th Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 488. Print. Hodder, Alan D. "The Gospel According To This Moment: Thoreau, Wildness, And American Nature Religion." Religion & The Arts 15.4 (2011): 460-485. Humanities International Complete. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. Nabers, Deak. "Thoreau's Natural Constitution." American Literary History 19.4 (2007): 824-848. Humanities International Complete. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. Rolston III, Holmes, et al. "Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-82." Fifty Key Thinkers On The Environment (2000): 93-100. Environment Complete. Web. 13 Dec. 2013. Thoreau, Henry David. "Walden." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter 6th Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 856-937. Print. Turner, Jack. "Emerson, Slavery, And Citizenship." Raritan 28.2 (2008): 127-146. Humanities International Complete. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.

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