This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Comparing And Contrasting Self Awareness In The Works Of Emerson, Whitman And Poe

2241 words - 9 pages

Defining Self-Awareness in the works of Emerson, Whitman and Poe

Literature in the American Renaissance influenced the Romantic sentiment that prevailed during this period: the emergence of the individual. This materialization evolved out of the Age of Reason, when the question of using reason (a conscious state) or faith (an unconscious state) as a basis for establishing a set of beliefs divided people into secular and non-secular groups. Reacting to the generally submissive attitudes predominant in America at this time, nineteenth century writers envisioned "the source of religion within consciousness itself" (Chai, 10). This "secularization of religion" ultimately led to the "isolation of the self from others" (Chai, 10), and manifested the persuasive theme in Renaissance literature that promoted independent thinking. The writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Walt Whitman all emanate from this Romantic spirit. "Trust thyself" asserts Emerson, do not remain "clapped in jail by [your] consciousness" (261), be "led [out] in triumph by nature" (542). Merging the individual and nature is a common motif in Romanticism, but these writers had contrasting views on the dynamics of this connection. While Emerson and Whitman were on one end of the Romantic meter proclaiming the potential greatness of the individual, Poe was at the other end questioning human nature. Indeed, the literature these authors produced are relative to the Romantic trend in elevating self-awareness, however their work demonstrates Emerson and Whitman differ with Poe regarding the ascendancy of the conscious and unconscious states of the mind.

Emerson and Whitman celebrated the conscious power of the individual, while Poe exposed the hidden fears repressed within the unconscious self. In each of their separate philosophies regarding the make-up of this individual, there is always a common quality of being separate but equal, someone who neither conforms to society nor rejects it completely, but stands apart, independent in thought. This individual is the Romantic hero, the one "who in the midst of a crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude" (Emerson, 263). Emerson explains how this transcendence from a dulled state of consciousness to a higher level of awareness is achievable if you "insist on yourself; [and] never imitate" (278). In his usual candid style, Whitman identifies himself as this hero in Song of Myself proclaiming, "I exist as I am, that is enough, / And if no other in the world be aware I sit content, / And if each and all be aware I sit content. / One world is aware, and by far the largest to me, and that is myself" (2759). Improbable as it seems, Poeâs hero begins to resemble the Îmeâ in Whitmanâs last line "who trustingly consults and thoroughly questions his own soul" (qtd in Rosenheim, 25). This correspondence in self-awareness links these authors to each other, and to Romanticism.


Clearly Emerson and...

Find Another Essay On Comparing and Contrasting Self-Awareness in the Works of Emerson, Whitman and Poe

Transcendentalism in the works of Thoreau, Hawthorne and Emerson

603 words - 2 pages the great transcendentalists of his time. He most famous pieces were Nature and Self-Reliance. His works were ideal pieces of transcendentalist literature. In Nature he stresses the importance of understanding truth through nature. He writes, "...the air is a cordial of incredible virtue". This quote is a perfect example of the transcendentalist mind set. To Emerson a man views nature as beautiful "as his own nature", man and nature are one and

Wakefulness: Thoreau, Whitman, and Emerson Essay

1921 words - 8 pages . Self-reliance is the idea of individuality and making decisions for oneself. In turn, creating a more highbrow society is achieved through self-reliance and the belief in intellectual distinction. Finally becoming closer to God allows one to realize they are just a small part of even greater concept. Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman showed that intellect is the most important aspect of their works and they believe everyone should pursue these three

Comparing and Contrasting the Wars in Chechnya

2059 words - 9 pages and the second being a response to terrorism – are the most significant differences when determining the causality of the wars. Works Cited Treisman, Daniel, "The Return" Vendina, Belozerov, and Gustafson, “The Wars in Chechnya nd Their Effects on Neighboring Regions” Hughes, “From Federalisation to Recentralisation” Zhuravskaya, “Federalism in Russia”

The Life of Walt Whitman: An Exploration in the Poet's Spirituality and Works.

2612 words - 10 pages Many a student has decried various types of poetry for its form and structure while enjoying the free verse works of poets such as T. S. Elliot and Robert Frost. Students, however, frequently neglect the Civil War era poet Walt Whitman who is, to this day, considered the Father of free verse. While Whitman did not invent free verse, he secured its role in the American psyche. Even with his accomplishments, Whitman's life was not without trials

Emerson and Whitman's Views of Self

614 words - 2 pages Emerson and Whitman's Views of Self "What is man anyhow? What am I? What are you?" asks Whitman. Who we are, what our purpose is and what the meaning of life is are all mysteries that man has tried to solve from his earliest history. Whitman and Emerson explore these ideas in their works, Song of Myself and Self Reliance. Whitman, an American poet, and Emerson, an American philosopher, take different approaches in their search for self

Comparing and Contrasting The Outsiders

802 words - 4 pages group of friends, you will find that he is a gold-hearted person. Although the movie and the book, both entitled The Outsiders, contain several similarities, they have many differences as well. To begin with, when comparing the book and the movie, you will find they both tell the story of fourteen-year-old Ponyboy Curtis who is the youngest brother in the Curtis family. He earns good grades, loves sunsets, and grows up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in a

Comparing and Contrasting the Author's Use of Style in "The Standard of Living" and "The Lesson"

530 words - 2 pages An author's view of human behavior is often reflected in their works. The short stories, The Standard of Living by Dorothy Parker and The Lesson by Toni Cade Bambara are both examples of works that demonstrate their author's view of lifestyles from the past.Parker's The Standard of Living reflects pretence and make-believe. Perhaps the best example of this is demonstrated by the main characters Annabel and Midge who are two young middle-class

Comparing and contrasting elements of horror in Dracula and Frankenstein

736 words - 3 pages In “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” evil is the basis of both novels. However in both novels the evil displayed is different and has different intensities. In “Dracula”, there are portrayals of death and world domination because of the Count’s evil aspirations and his supernatural abilities including immortality and his ability to make endless hordes of minions that will serve him in his evil plans. In “Frankenstein” however, there is only a

Comparing and Contrasting Society in the Book, The Lathe of Heaven and the Movie, Matrix

825 words - 3 pages Comparing and Contrasting Society in the Book, The Lathe of Heaven and the Movie, Matrix In the book The Lathe of Heaven, by Ursula K. Le Guin, there are many similarities and some differences in society in comparison to the movie Matrix. The two stories settings take place in different locations. Although, throughout both stories many huge changes are made, the people in the societies remain unaware of the changes. Then, similarly

Comparing and Contrasting the Revolutions in Mexico and Russia

658 words - 3 pages While both the Mexican and Russian revolutions had similar end goals and the process in which they conducted their uprisings which started the peasant revolutions; the major differences lie in who started the revolutions and what political systems they adopted after their revolutions were over. Mexico’s revolution of 1910 and Russia’s revolution of 1917 started with similar goals in becoming free from a nonrepresentative society for the people

The Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe

1459 words - 6 pages acquaintances were helpful to them in their careers, they both became authors to remember. Hawthorne had Moby Dick by Herman Melville dedicated to him and Poe had a friend help him publish a few writings in a paper. But both authors at first had no help. Poe published most of his beginning works himself at his own expense. Hawthorne had most of his published in newspaper articles. These authors did not have the easiest of times trying to publish

Similar Essays

Comparing The Theme Of Nature With Works From Dicknson Whitman And Emerson

687 words - 3 pages Comparing the Theme of Nature with Works from Dicknson Whitman and Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson once stated that “the first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature.” Nature in all its forms parallels with life, death, and the soul. Whether the sunshines or the rain falls, whether a flower blooms or willows, nature will always recreate itself and remain a mystery to mankind. To become one

Comparing And Contrasting The Purpose Of Self Punishment In Sophocles' Oedipus Rex And Ibsen's Hedda Gabler

1356 words - 5 pages Characters that stand out are the ones that commit ludicrous actions such as self-punishment, to convey curiosity and to make a story more creative and entertaining. Self-punishment is something that both Sophocles and Henrik Ibsen incorporated into their stories, it is a way of relieving pain, suffering or an act of avoidance, which is portrayed in the play Oedipus Rex (429BC) and Hedda Gabler (1890). Hedda Gabler and Oedipus both find a way of

Comparing Works Of Edgar Allen Poe

1773 words - 7 pages Death-Despair-Revenge: A Recipe for a Good Drama "Scorching my seared heart with a pain, not hell shall make me fear again." Edgar Allan Poe, Tamerlane, Part II Death, despair, and revenge, these three words form a treacherous triangle to any reader who dare enter the mind of Edgar Allen Poe. In many of his works these expressions seem to form a reoccurring theme. Comparing the works "The Mask of the Red Death" and "The Cask of

This Is Essay Is Comparing And Contrasting I, Too Sing America By Langston Hughes And I Hear America Singing By Walt Whitman

709 words - 3 pages Essay: Write a two-page essay in which you compare any two out of the four Walt Whitman and Langston Huges poems. What do they have in common? How are they different? Use specific examples from the text to prove your point.Poems: I, too, sing America by Langston Hughes & I hear America Singing by Walt WhitmanToday, we know, that a poem can best be described as a verbal composition designed to convey experiences, ideas, or emotions in a very