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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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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.