Romanticism And The Transcendental Club

1017 Words 5 Pages
In the nineteenth century, America was undergoing numerous changes as several historical reform movements took place, including transcendentalism, a version of European romanticism centered around the Transcendental Club. Following the example of romanticism, transcendentalists practiced a mixture of religious, philosophical, and social ideas that focused on the study of nature, intuition, feelings, and individual acts of heroism. The Transcendental Club, a group of literary leaders, used these ideas to spread transcendentalism through their own writing, and the writing of those they influenced. The members were led by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and questioned the doctrines of churches and business practices, supported the antislavery movement, …show more content…
In Leaves of Grass, Whitman often exhibits the ideals of the Transcendental Club, for example he says, " All truths wait in all things, they neither hasten their own delivery nor resist it, they do not need the obstetric forceps of the surgeon, the insignificant is as big to me as any, what is less or more than a touch" (Whitman 61). In keeping with transcendentalist beliefs, Whitman incorporates the idea of all mankind, whether they be rich or poor, educated or not, being capable of understanding and discovering things in the world around them. This belief also played into the philosophical idea of truth existing in all places and people, rather than in a select few. By combining these two ideas, Whitman encouraged and demonstrated the democratic spirit of the Transcendental Club and America in general, at this time. Another fundamental Transcendentalist belief that Whitman includes in this passage is anomalousness, or individualism. The concept that one must not be a wealthy and educated person to make a difference shows the need in society for a diverse group of people from all backgrounds and current situations. Whitman 's writing truly encompassed and represented the essence of the Transcendental Club and their …show more content…
The Transcendentalists were influenced by many different movements, including European romanticism, " The social and political views of Rousseau,... find their American restatement, adaptation, or counterpart in the writings of Emerson, Whitman, and Thoreau" (Simpson). Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who influenced both the French Revolution, and the development of the liberal, conservative, and socialist theory, also impacted Whitman 's writing, thus having an effect on the American people. Rousseau 's belief in equality for all people is a fundamental component in Whitman 's poetry, as well as the loose interpretation of democracy Rousseau identified with. Reformists had used writing to spread their opinions and ideas, especially political ones, for some time and the Transcendental Club, as well as those they influenced, continued this tradition. As the Transcendental Club was easily influenced by different political opinions of both the past and present, their stance on topics was often changing. Members of the Transcendental Club and those they influenced, such as Whitman, recognized problems in politics and government and used their opinions and the opinions of others in their writing to convince Americans of the need for

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