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Trascendentalism And Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

1732 words - 7 pages

There have been countless religious rebellions throughout history, but none quite like that of Transcendentalism. At the time of the movement’s birth, newly acquired religious freedom in the United States allowed for new ideas and beliefs to blossom freely. Ideas and beliefs that the public and government previously greeted with bitter rejection. At the heart of Transcendentalism lied its most famous ambassadors, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his apprentice, Henry David Thoreau. Although Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau shared similar views and beliefs relating to Transcendentalism, the approach each author took in writing and making the ideas that were so important concrete was not always so closely related.
Transcendentalism encompasses the idea that spiritual growth can be achieved through a rigorous personal journey as apposed to organized religion, and both authors express their ideas on religion a little bit differently. Emerson believed that nature was the purest physical form of the divine, and that an individual could develop a better personal relationship with God through time spent one on one in nature. In “Nature”, one of the author’s most famous works, Emerson expresses his ideas in imagery-filled sentences. For example, “In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair” (488). Emerson whole-heartedly believed that nature was potentially the answer to nearly every one of life’s riddles and that once a person was completely connected to nature, only then could they achieve total inner peace. The authors of the article, “Ralph Waldo Emerson” try to simplify Emerson’s beliefs with statements such as, “In Nature Emerson argues that nature yields: Commodity; Beauty; Language; and Discipline.” By listing what Emerson believes are some of the most important advantages of nature; they help prove how important these advantages were to Transcendentalism. Unlike Emerson, Thoreau’s ideas were often centered more on the physical effects of nature. Even though Thoreau was not as focused on the philosophical aspects of Transcendentalism, his time spent alone at Walden Pond prompted several personal religious experiences of his own. In “ The Gospel According to this Moment: Thoreau, Wildness, and American Nature Religion” Alan D. Hodder inquires, “After all, was it not part of the point of his refuge at Walden to flee the strictures of traditional faith?” (466). Thoreau left society for self-improvement reasons and his experiences alone in the wilderness could not help but to drastically affect his person belief system, even though he was not as influential in the subject as Emerson. In Walden, Thoreau points out that because society moves so quickly, they do not make time to truly appreciate the beauty and spirituality around them. For example, he uses the comparison, “The migrating buffalo, which seeks new pastures in...

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