The Influences Of Ralph Waldo Emerson And The American Renaissance

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Often overlooked, the American Renaissance was a critical period in the development of characteristic American literary traditions. The American Renaissance was the fundamental shift that gave rise to great nationalistic literary works by patriotic writers. The newly emerging country desperately sought artistic expressions of nationalism and reform to alleviate the widespread sense of vulnerability that had spread after the Revolutionary War. Ralph Waldo Emerson was among the many authors that influenced and directly sparked the American literary Renaissance in the nineteenth century. The Norton Anthology of American Literature delves into the life of Emerson and the influences that inspired his philosophical and aesthetic works, such as …show more content…
“Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing” (555). Despite the misunderstanding and judgment of society, Emerson continued to encourage the truthful expression of one’s ideas regardless of contradiction. Emerson claimed that man could not contradict his nature and conscience when expressing ideas truthfully because his ideas were an expression of his character. He believed that greatness appealed to the future because it was a culmination of one’s ideas and actions. Man’s journey of ideas and thoughts depended upon his continually growing and learning character. Thus, so long as man remained truthful in his ideas he could achieve greatness rather than be contradicted or misunderstood. However, the greatness of novelty would only be achieved by men willing to trust their inherent ability of …show more content…
He understood the ease of falling into temptation, but motivated men by urging them to continue to trust the truth of their intuitive ideas. Emerson believed that God’s light would even shine upon the conformists and they too would be turned towards the truth of self-reliance. He recognized the soul’s inherent need to wander in search of meaning, but he argued that the world would not quell the void. In order to give meaning to one’s soul, Emerson urged men to look within in order to find the light of God. He believed man had an intrinsic right to live life without justifying or seeking restitution for the way he lived it. “My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for a spectacle” (552). He commended those who lived self-reliantly and truthfully because those were the courageous men who possessed the light of God and the ability to create

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