Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar, And Nature Essay

Ralph Waldo Emerson, The American Scholar, And Nature Essay

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In the American culture, one of the minds that has helped developed the identity of the American Literature was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson wrote many literary works such as “Self – Reliance”, “The American Scholar”, and “Nature”. In the works Emerson creates the idea of how the American identity should be structured and how scholars and students can go about making this identity. The main point that comes out through a lot of his writing is that one can create the American identify through that of the mind. Emerson create the concept of the heroic mind, a mind that can conquer anything and any situation. Emerson describes our surroundings and situations as “nature” stating that the mind can conquer nature and bend it to its will. Emerson in his story “Nature” states, “Nature is thoroughly mediate. It is made to serve. It receives the dominion of man as meekly as the ass on which the Savior rode” (Emerson 228). As seen through this quote Emerson believed that all humans can dictate the situations or results through that of the mind and the way they educate and train their mind. Emerson goes further to describe the vast superiority of the mind when he states, “It leaves me in the splendid labyrinth of my perceptions, to wander without end” (Emerson 237). Emerson is essentially saying that one can never fall prey to nature because the “heroic mind” can conquer any situation. Another writer of this era goes to challenge this and this writer is Edgar Allen Poe. Edgar Allen Poe wrote poems and short works such as “The Raven”, “The Fall of the House of Usher”, and “Ligeia”. Poe challenges this concept through his writing because in his writings many of the characters of narrators fall prey to their situation causing them to be plunged...


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...ages into the story create a correlation in the authors mind and show that the authors mind is trapped and has no way of escaping. In doing so Poe wraps everything up to show that the narrators “heroic mind” has fallen prey to “nature” and has no means of conquering it.
In conclusion, the Poe is working to disprove Emerson and his idea of the “heroic mind” in terms of “nature”, or one’s situation. Poe writes to show that a human’s mind cannot conquer a situation and that it is in. The one thing that Poe leaves open ended is what happens to the narrator and does he truly have the power to overcome Ligeia. Poe shows the true power and will that Ligeia has over the narrator but he fails to write about the power that the narrator has over Ligeia. This leaves one to believe and question that if the mind has the power to fall prey, can it gain the power to gain agency?

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