Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism

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Transcendentalism blossomed during the 1800s with the help of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson. They were Transcendentalists who expressed their beliefs through writings from poems to essays and they believed that “the individual was at the center of the universe” (Prentice Hall 384). The idea of Transcendentalism is complex and for this reason, only a number of people understood it. Emerson, Thoreau, and Dickinson, were one of the many people who were Transcendentalist; these writers went out of their way in society to represent their beliefs.
Emerson’s beliefs were mainly on “the human mind [because it] was the most important force in the universe” (Prentice Hall 384). In “Nature”, Emerson viewed nature as “[the] plantations of God, a decorum and sanctity reign, [and] a perennial festival dressed” (Emerson 388). God made nature and some view it as just trees, leaves, grass, etc., but Emerson saw the true beauty in nature. He saw it as if lights, tinsel, ornaments, etc. already decorated it. In addition, Emerson compared himself to “a transparent eyeball” and “[he] see[‘s] all; the currents of the Universal Being” (Emerson 389). He can see everything and everyone around the world. In “Self-Reliance”, Emerson conveys that one must follow for what they believe in. They have to accept themselves “for better [or] for worse” (Emerson 391). Emerson states, “A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best” (Emerson 391). He implies that one must love their job and loves to work hard because at the end they will be happy. In addition, Emerson viewed the human soul as part of an “‘Over-Soul,’ a universal spirit to which all beings returned after death” (Prentice Hall 384). The Over-Soul is similar to reincarnation, where after one person dies, that person will come back to life, but in a different form, like, an animal, an insect, or a human. Emerson’s works define being an American because they gave him the freedom to write what he wanted. Also, his works define being a Transcendentalist because they include descriptions of the deep sense of nature, human soul, and individualism.
Thoreau, the protégé of Emerson, went through tough experiences to understand Transcendentalism and to be in “harmony with nature” (Prentice Hall 385). In Walden, Thoreau spends two years living in a cottage, which he made, next to Walden Pond in the woods.

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He experienced nature and the beauty of it. Walden Pond was miles away from any society, but he thought, “the village was too far from [the nature]” (Thoreau 403). The society is moving away from the nature and moving closer to industries. While living at Walden Pond, he was seeking the very essence of life and to find the truth of nature. He stated that “things do not change; we change” (Thoreau 409). He implies that nature should not change for the people; we should change with the nature. In “Civil Disobedience”, Thoreau “urg[es] people to resist the governmental policies with which they disagree” (Prentice Hall 412). This challenged people to go for what they believe in. Thoreau protested against the government due to the war between Texas and Mexico. Thoreau states “‘That [the] government is best which governs least’…‘That government is best which governs not at all’” (Thoreau 412). The government over thinks of what they are doing, that’s why Thoreau recognizes that the government is not responsible to revolutionize. In addition, the army is not bad, it’s just “an arm of the standing government” (Thoreau 412). The only bad thing about the army is that the government is controlling it. Thoreau’s works define being an American because he went against the government, which people in the 1800s did a lot of and he challenged the American government. His works also define being a Transcendentalist because he found the truth of nature and sacrificed two years of his life to live in the woods, surrounded by nature.
Dickinson saw life in a completely different way than did Emerson and Thoreau. Her poems were exquisitely elaborate including “her eccentric use of punctuation and irregular meter and rhyme”, which are unlikely to be used in poems (Prentice Hall 418). Her writing is so unique that it is in its own category. In her poems, she discusses death and the cycle of life. In “Because I could not stop for Death-”, the human takes a carriage ride and passes places that are important, like “the School, where Children strove/ At Recess-in the Ring-/ We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain-/ We passed the Setting Sun” (Dickinson 421). This is like the cycle of life because these places are starting from the beginning, at school, to the end, watching the sunset. In “The Soul selects her own Society”, Dickinson states “[the soul]-from an ample nation-/ Choose One-” (Dickinson 425). She implies that the soul can only choose one person out of an entire nation, possibly to save that one person. Dickinson’s works define being an American because they talk about the American life, death, society, etc. Even though Dickinson was living by herself, she still thought about the society and the American life outside of her house.
Emerson, Thoreau, and Dickinson are the major writers during the time of Transcendentalism. They left their normal lives to write about their beliefs and to find the truth of it. They went through tough experiences to go for what believed in and to put those beliefs into their writings.

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