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Transcendentalism Essay

775 words - 4 pages

Henry David Thoreau was an American philosopher, poet, and the leading transcendentalist. Thoreau was a friend and a mentor to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau is best known for his book Walden which was a reflection upon living simply in natural surroundings. The setting for the book Walden was in Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. In Walden the main characteristics of transcendentalism are as follows: believed in living closer to nature, believed in simplifying one’s life, and believed in self-reliance.
One of the largest characteristics of transcendentalism is the belief in living closer to nature. Walden was written because Thoreau wanted to step away from society and live closer to nature. In “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For,” Thoreau explains his reasons behind going to Walden Pond: “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” (“Important…”). The beginning of the quote is saying Thoreau went to live in the woods and wished to choose his path of life independently. The next part he gives two separate meaning: the practical one meaning food, shelter, and water, and the philosophical one is about the core of human life. This quote shows that the belief in living closer to nature is a characteristic of transcendentalism because Thoreau went to Walden Pond to live closer to nature and help him find his path.
Another characteristic of transcendentalism in Walden is the belief of simplifying one’s life. Thoreau left for Walden Pond to leave behind his duties to simplify his life to get closer to the real meaning of life. Thoreau asked others to ignore the unimportant details of life to enrich their own: “Our life is frittered away be detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity” (“The Henry…”)! In this quote Thoreau stresses that life is riddled with details and if you ignore those details you can see the real meaning of life. On Thoreau’s journey he writes against the mainstream American way of life: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet...

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