Ralph Waldo Emerson: Aspects Of Transcendentalism

2376 words - 10 pages

With the continuous evolvement of the English language, literary movements played a key role in the development of modern day literature. During the early 19th century, Ralph Waldo Emerson, a successful essayist and poet, founded one of these in movements known as Transcendentalism. With the creation of one of the most influential progression of literature in American history, Emerson, and fellow Transcendentalists helped develop American tenets. One of the most prominent concepts was the Oversoul. The Oversoul, an encompassing spirit that collected all the souls of the living and dead, allowed Transcendentalists to explain everyone’s ability to acquire greatness and to comprehend their teachings. In reference to this tenet, Transcendentalists swayed from traditional Puritan values to develop numerous principles about nature, intuition, the divinity of man, self-reliance, and the duty of the poet.
With the creation of the Transcendental Club, its members, including Emerson, contributed to the development of the ideals. Prominent writers such as Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Fuller made up the main faction of philosophers in the Club. Coincidentally, the participants of the Transcendental Club shared several similarities in regards to their background and work. Emerson critic, Alexander Kern, observed that most of the Transcendentalists studied ideology and inadvertently subsisted in the northeastern corner of the United States (3). With similar think patterns, the Transcendentalists with new ideas collectively brought exceptional changes in American literature. Before the movement, American literature contained materialistic and overdramatized sermons and prose, which spoke of damnation. The Transcendentalists introduced a philosophy where divinity, self-improvement, and all-knowing intuition were possible for all humanity (Kern 4). This universal ability was provided through the Oversoul, which allowed the public to accept widely the movement. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a poet and philosopher, became the fundamental figure in the movement. Emerson, as a demonstrative individual in the club, loved the disturbance in the norm, literature could create. According to John Jay Chapman, Emerson as a true nonconformist, believed literature should be created to explore the unconventional and unknown (290). Accredited as the father of Transcendentalism, Emerson developed and taught Transcendentalist concepts through his poems and compositions.
In relation to its Unitarian belief foundation, the transcendentalist movement contradicted the beliefs of Puritanism. One of the deviating philosophies was the Transcendentalists’ view of Nature. Contrary to Puritan belief, the revolutionary thinkers believed that Nature, in its relationship to the individual, is a Teacher because of its representation of God. Additionally, the concept of idealism also often contrasted Puritan realism, because it recognized an individual’s intuition as final, rather than relying...

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