Transcendentalism: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau

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Transcendentalism As America changes as a country, the thoughts of her authors change as well. By the Mid-1800s a new philosophy had emerged, Transcendentalism. While Transcendentalism was not widely accepted by the masses, leaving authors to be mocked and ridiculed, some of the authors of this movement writings have withstood the test of time. The works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson are still read, analyzed, and appreciated more than 150 years after they were penned, leaving us to appreciate how revolutionary the Transcendentalist movement truly was. In this response we will analyze the broad scope of Transcendentalism and the authors who made it timeless. Transcendentalism encompasses many …show more content…
In his enthusiasm of calling for men to think for themselves, become educated, to fight for government reform he has been unable to fully do that for himself and seems envious of those who are in a position to do so. Thoreau’s writing The Plea for Captain John Brown we can feel the fervent envy, “[Brown] in teaching us how to die, [has] at the same time taught us how to live.” (1168). In this piece he is arguing about the importance of sticking to your beliefs even if your life is on the line. It is the ultimate call to action that just because Brown was seen as wrong by the manipulative government that his actions were still right and we should remember him as the heroic man of conviction that he was, “I am here to plead his cause with you. I plead not for his life, but for his character – his immortal life” …show more content…
Whitman responded to Emerson’s call for American poets who would reject tradition and embrace the transcendentalist movement with their poetry. We see many of the same themes of nature and individualism in his poetry that we have read about in the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. In One’s-Self I Sing Whitman writes about the, “simple separate person” (1329) who still has to deal with living by the laws of the land. I felt this poem was an optimistic call for mankind to believe in itself, and not to judge a book by its cover because that distracts from the whole of an individual. While we live in an exciting new time, we still have to obey the laws, even if that means pushing them to their limits. In Whitman’s poem Crossing the Brooklyn Ferry we can see his observance and connection with nature with the numerous mentions throughout the poem. It is my interpretation of this poem that Whitman was highlighting the idea that we are wrapped in our own busy existence, not taking time to focus on the individual or nature, and do not think about those were there before us or will be there after us (referring to Emerson’s influences of knowledge from the past), and that this poem was an optimistic reminder that we are not alone in the good times or the bad through the repetition of: “Others will.”, “I too…”. The final poem we read of Whitman’s was Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking which again shows the

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