Transcendentalism: Thoreau And Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Transcendentalism Synthesis Essay Nonconformity, as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the refusal to conform to an established or conventional creed, rule, or practice. Nonconformity was a major principle of transcendentalism, a literary and philosophical movement that prospered in 19th century America. Along with nonconformity, transcendentalists also placed an emphasis on finding God in nature, self-reliance, idealism, and living in the present. Two persuasive leaders led the Transcendentalist movement, Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau is best known for Walden, his book about living simply in the woods, and his ideas on disobeying corrupt governments and laws. Emerson strongly believed in the importance of individualism, …show more content…
Civil Disobedience, by Henry David Thoreau, explains everything that Thoreau felt was corrupt and unjust about government. Thoreau explains how the government, laws, and prisons are not helping the common people. Thoreau refused to pay taxes to show his disapproval of the government. Thoreau believed that, “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded or shall we transgress them at once?” (Thoreau1 393). If a man feels a law is unjust, he should refuse to follow it and attempt to have it amended, therefore he shall not follow the law until it gets amended. For example, Thoreau refused to pay his taxes, and continued to not pay them until the laws were changed. Thoreau believed that man being himself was more important than following the rules created by people higher up than him: “I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward” (Thoreau1 392). A man has higher obligations to discovering who he is and being that person than obligations to the state and being a good citizen. In short, Thoreau believed that man must not conform to government otherwise any unjust laws will be in place forever, and he should be a good man before anything

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