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Ralph Waldo Emerson And Trancendentalism Essay

1183 words - 5 pages

Ralph Waldo Emerson is known as the father of Transcendentalism, a philosophical movement based on feelings rather than logic, it is a movement for the nonconformists and unique thinkers. Transcendentalism’s main ideas are individualism, intuition, imagination, idealism, and inspiration. When Emerson created the movement in the nineteenth century he was a well known writer and is still today a prominent figure in American Literature. Christopher McCandless was also a transcendentalist. He left everything he had in order to go on a great Alaskan voyage. Unfortunately, during his journey, something went wrong and he died due to uncertain causes. McCandless is also the protagonist of the nonfiction novel, Into the Wild which Jon Krakauer wrote about McCandless’s life. Emerson and McCandless show similarities with each other such as their transcendental thinking, their individuality, and their life goal of searching for their identity.

Emerson is known as the father of Transcendentalism because he was the founder of the movement. His writings appealed to both intellectuals and the general public even if his new ideas were hard for most of society to understand. Emerson’s entire life journey was transcendental. He was constantly thinking outside of society’s norms. Emerson once said “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist” (Emerson). Emerson means that to be a real man you cannot conform to what society wants you to be. Society tends to want everyone to think the same way and do what they are told to do. A man cannot go around following others and not thinking for himself.

McCandless was also a follower of transcendentalism. He read the works of transcendental authors thought similarly to them. On his Alaskan voyage he brought books such as, Walden written by Henry David Thoreau. He was often misunderstood like other transcendentalists. No one understood why he left everything and went to Alaska. “Two years he walks the Earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom. An extremist. An aesthetic voyager whose home is the road. Escaped from Atlanta. Thou shalt not return, ‘cause ‘the west is the best’” (Krakauer 163). McCandless’s journey was extremely unique. Few others would do the same thing. Individuality is an essential part of transcendentalism.

As a transcendentalist Emerson broke away from society’s norms. From a young age he was expected to become a minister but he shockingly resigned from his job and chose to become a writer instead. Society wanted Emerson to become a minister and Emerson fought against society. “It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness and independence of solitude” (Emerson). Emerson is saying that what makes a man is the ability to stand in a crowd and keep your own ideas. A great man is not pressured into believing what society wants him to. A...

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