The Like Minds of Emerson and Douglass Essay

The Like Minds of Emerson and Douglass Essay

Length: 1302 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Like Minds of Emerson and Douglass

   Few, if any, writers of the American Renaissance period had as great an influence on contemporaries as did Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was insistent that America put its mark on the literary world with its own, genuine American literature, and he launched the movement with his own works (Bode 574). Frederick Douglass was a slave of the American south when Emerson was starting out and moving up in his profession. Eventually, Douglass became Emersonâs fellow writer and lecturer. Douglass was present and was asked to speak for the Womenâs Anti-Slavery Society in August 1844, in Concord, where Emerson was the keynote speaker. The two men shared common ideas, as we shall see as the literary works and lives of the two men are examined. To some extent Emerson had an influence on Douglassâs expressed views, but on the other hand, some of Douglassâs views were a product of his own natural inclination.


Emerson believed that the human spirit could be relied on to lift man up to overcome any tribulation that might be encountered (Bode 574). Douglass inadvertantly proved Emerson right when he lifted himself out of the dehumanizing bondage of slavery through his sheer will of human spirit. Douglass went on to become a hero of the slave movement after he gained his freedom.


Emerson "believed in a reality and a knowledge that transcended the everyday reality·" He also felt strongly that individuals should trust fully in the integrity of self (Bode 573). There is a correspondence between this "self-made" man of Emersonâs and Frederick Douglass. During the course of Douglassâs career, his actions and words epitomized Emersonian ideas.


The issue of abolishment of slavery d...

... middle of paper ...

...ce, exemplary character, and social inspiration" (Martin 263).


Works Cited


Belasco, Susan. Harriet Martineauâs Black Hero and the American Antislavery Movement. Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol II. University of California Press, 2000. 1-23.

Bode, Carl. Emerson. McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Biography Vol III. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 1973. 572-574.

Frederick Douglass 1818-1895. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton, 1998. 1578-1690.

Martin, Waldo E., Jr. The Mind of Frederick Douglass. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton, 1998. 1578-1690.

Rowe, John Carlos. At Emersonâs Tomb: The Politics of Classic American Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1997.


Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Emerson's Self Reliance vs. Douglass' Narrative of the Life Essay

- After reading both “Self Reliance,” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave,” by Frederick Douglass, one might notice a trend in what both writers regard as the key to happiness or self-fulfillment. Emerson and Douglass both imply that acquiring knowledge is what people should strive for throughout their lives. However, their perceptions on the kind of knowledge should be attained is where their ideas diverge; Emerson is the one that encourages one to develop the soul whereas with Douglass, it is the mind....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
1310 words (3.7 pages)

Essay about Transcendentalism, By Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Transcendentalism is a major concept that originated in New England from 1836 to 1855. It is the idea that people have knowledge about themselves that rises above or goes beyond the five senses. The man credited with leading this revolutionary movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was born in Boston, and used his experience at Harvard and as a Unitarian Reverend to help start this revolution. He eventually would come to the conclusion that the individual is more morally just than religion. He started this shift with his book Nature, which he published in 1836....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Strong Essays
1089 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass

- In 1845 Frederick Douglass published a narrative titled “Narrative Of The Life Of Frederick Douglass” which paved the avenue for a large abolitionist movement which eventually lead up to the civil war. In the popular narrative, Douglass shaped the American society’s perception of slavery and contributed to the abolitionist movement. Frederick Douglass’ writing in his narrative is composed of multiple appeals to the northern American population. Through Douglass’ journey through his contribution to the abolitionist movement, he performed a compelling and influential presence in the realm of literature and journalism to articulate the importance and reasoning behind abolishing slavery....   [tags: Abolitionism, Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
1084 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on God, Or Gods, By Ralph Waldo Emerson

- Religion is generally viewed as a common belief shared by a group of people. These groups then create dogmas and doctrines that are to be followed and perceived as true. From the doctrines rituals and rites form leading to a sense of unity through initiation. Once a person is initiated they are granted membership into the religion and are given a sense of belonging. The sense of being part of a bigger picture is a commonality found in all humans. The usual uniting factor that binds people to a religion is the belief in the same higher being, usually called God, or Gods....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Strong Essays
1002 words (2.9 pages)

The Theme Of Individualism : Ralph Waldo Emerson 's Works Essay

- The theme of individualism is present in many of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works. This was not only the theme of his writings but, also his philosophical views on how to live life. He believed that human beings had amazing capabilities, more than they can possibly know about. With these capabilities a person should govern themselves, not be governed by a society. He also believed that nature played a large role on how man should act and to follow natures actions of growing freely. This is why he lead the Transcendentalism movement in the nineteenth century along with Theodore Parker, Frederic Henry Hedge, Amos Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism]

Strong Essays
891 words (2.5 pages)

Slavery and The Narrative of Frederick Douglass Essay

- Slavery and The Narrative of Frederick Douglass In 1845, Frederick Douglass told his compelling story of life as slave and as a free man. Through the words of somebody who endured slavery, we can only get a taste of what it was like, for we will never truly know the feeling of the severe physical punishment and the cruelty the slaves endured. Whippings, beatings and lynchings were all too common during the era of slavery. However, not only were their bodies treated so harshly, but their minds and souls were as well....   [tags: The Narrative of Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
582 words (1.7 pages)

Dehumanization and Freedom in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

- Dehumanization and Freedom in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass   The issue of slavery in antebellum America was not black and white. Generally people in the North opposed slavery, while inhabitants of the South promoted it. However, many people were indifferent. Citizens in the North may have seen slavery as neither good nor bad, but just a fact of Southern life. Frederick Douglass, knowing the North was home to many abolitionists, wrote his narrative in order to persuade these indifferent Northern residents to see slavery as a degrading practice....   [tags: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
1733 words (5 pages)

Harmony in Emerson's Nature Essay

- Harmony in  Emerson's Nature I would like to address two points in my discussion on Nature. One I just found interesting and the other is to examine the idea of unity and harmony presented throughout the work. While I was rereading, I noticed in the beginning Emerson mentioned "horizons" three times. I know Emerson is sometimes redundant, but to me he was trying to tell us the importance of the horizon. When he was writing about who owns what property, he mentions a "property in the horizon which no man has." Somewhere in the distance is a place on earth that belongs to itself....   [tags: Emerson Nature]

Strong Essays
1020 words (2.9 pages)

Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass Essay examples

- In this essay I will be talking about the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass and how his life was representative towards the telling about slavery. First I will talk about what the difference between urban and plantation slavery. Then I will talk about each type of slavery through events that Frederick Douglass lived through. In the end I will describe how slavery impacted race relations. Numerous people have a diverse way of thinking towards the Narrative of Fredrick Douglass, so some people may think that his description on slavery was adequate while others may think that his narrative was not fair....   [tags: Frederick Douglass]

Strong Essays
1100 words (3.1 pages)

Emerson's Philosophy Essay

- Emerson's Philosophy Emerson placed an emphasis on three primary aspects of life that illustrate the most crucial elements of humanity; nature, education and action. According to his theology, nature is the chief facet and because of its universal features, it arguably encompasses the remaining two tenets. Nature supports progress and action by providing physical accommodations in the form of material assets while simultaneously feeding the emotional hunger of man with inspirational beauty. His entire philosophy is embedded in the belief that an external presence shapes and influences the spiritual, intellectual, and physical elements of the individual....   [tags: Emerson Philosophy Philosophical Essays]

Strong Essays
627 words (1.8 pages)