Comparing Emerson And Thoreau Transcendentalism

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Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement that occurred in America after the Enlightenment and before the Civil War. Transcendental authors espoused closeness with nature while at the same time nonconformity with mainstream society. These ideals were clearly expressed in the literature written by both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
When comparing the the feelings of intimacy and respect held toward nature within this time period it is beneficial to look at both Emerson’s “Nature” and Thoreau’s “Walden”. Within both of these essays the bond between man and nature is portrayed as being positive. Evidence of this positive bond can be found in the quote from Emerson’s essay, “There I feel that nothing can befall me in life-
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This individuality was seen as the product of nonconformity and reluctance to societal influence. Emerson and Thoreau wrote literature explaining how the individual was of utmost importance. This newfound way of life was influential and inspiring seeing as it came after a movement which promoted logical thinking and reasoning. Throughout this time period people such as Emerson and Thoreau began to place superiority on individual thought more so than on societal views. This thought can be seen in quotes by both authors. In Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance” the reader can decipher this thought by looking at the quote “Trust thyself:Every heart vibrates to that iron string”. Within this quote Emerson emphasizes the importance of self sufficiency and singularity. You can also find examples of the same views held by Emerson in a quote from Thoreau’s “Walden”. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away”. This quote promotes the thought that we as people need to feel the freedom to pursue individuality and expression. Due to their desire to alleviate societal influences on themselves as well as others the bond between the transcendentals and society was more on the negative side of the neutral
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