Реферат: Transcendentalism Essay Research Paper Transcendentalism was a

Transcendentalism Essay, Research Paper

Transcendentalism was a literary movement in the first half

of the 19th century. The philosophical theory contained such

aspects as self-examination, the celebration of individualism, and

the belief that the fundamental truths existed outside of human

experience. Fulfillment of this search for knowledge came when

one gained an acute awareness of beauty and truth, and

communicated with nature to find union with the Over-Soul. When

this occurred, one was cleansed of materialistic aims, and was left

with a sense of self-reliance and purity. Two authors who were

among the leaders of the movement were Ralph Waldo Emerson

and Henry David Thoreau, whose works “Nature”,

“Self-Reliance”, and “Walden” brought America to the forefront of

the transcendentalist movement. Their ideas opposed the popular

materialist views of life and voiced a desire for freedom of the

individual from artificial restraints. They felt that if they explored

nature thoroughly, they would come to know themselves and the

universal truths better.

The concept of transcendentalism is clearly expressed in the

essay “Nature”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson was a leader

in the movement of transcendentalism and the first American

author to influence European thought. His essay “Nature” tells of

how one can gain insight and spiritual cleansing simply from

experiencing nature. Emerson tells of how “in the woods is

perpetual youth” and “in the woods we return to reason and faith.”

These lines exemplify the very ideals of transcendentalism. They

show the deep roots a person has in nature and how one can

receive knowledge of their Over-Soul by honestly enjoying the

outdoors and freeing oneself of previous evils. In the following

lines, Emerson remarks:

“Standing on the bare ground- my head bathed by the blithe

air and uplifted into infinite space- all mean egotism

vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball: I am nothing; I see

all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me;

I am part or parcel of God.”

These lines display the transcendentalist belief that purity and

knowledge can be obtained from a union with and understanding of


Emerson also relates the concept of transcendentalism to

human life in his essay, “Self-Reliance.” In this aptly named essay,

Emerson grapples with another part of transcendentalism, the issue

of “self-reliance.” He sees mankind as somewhat of a coward; that

people never express their true selves. Emerson claims that humans

are afraid to fail; they are pleased if successful, but are never

happy with where and what they are. He expresses

transcendentalist ideals by saying that a true person would be a

non-conformist. Emerson puts this belief into words in the

following lines:

“There is a time in every mans education when he arrives at

the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that

he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion.no kernel

of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil.”

These words are the epitome of the ideals of

transcendentalism- that one must celebrate the individual in order

to find himself one with the universe.

Another significant glimpse into the core ideals of

transcendentalism was made by the distinguished author Henry

David Thoreau. Thoreau lived in the home of essayist and

philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. His most honored and enjoyed

work was the story, “Walden”, which gives a forthright statement

of his reasons for embracing a contemplative and decidedly

transcendentalist life living on the shore of Walden Pond.

In “Walden”, Thoreau explains why he chose the woods:

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to

front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not

learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,

discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was

not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice

resignation, unless it was quite necessary.”

Thoreau himself was quoted as saying, “In wilderness is the

preservation of the world.” In “Walden”, the author describes the

cardinal importance of nature in ones search of their soul. Thoreau

chose to live in seclusion because he believed solitude was the best

companion in order to know one?|s own self. In the essay, he felt

that mankind cared too deeply for material possessions; “simplify!”

he implored. Thoreau claimed that humans were “ruined by luxury

and heedless expense” and that success is gained when one

“advances confidently in the direction of his dreams”. Thoreau

stressed the importance of the individual, saying “If a man does not

keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a

different drummer.” His ideas were the foundation of

transcendentalism- individualism, knowledge of nature, and the

disposal of material belongings.

Transcendentalism was one of the most important movements

of the 19th century. The theory embodied ideals that, if taken to

heart, had the potential to create a better understanding of the soul.

If a person could connect their individual soul with the universe,

they could fulfill their potential in life. One achieved this through

many different ways, ways that are explained and discussed in the

three works mentioned before. Transcendentalism was a

fundamental movement that was forever immortalized by

innovative authors and works of literature.

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