Emily Dickinson Transcendentalism

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Many authors have difficulty publishing their work, especially if it contains highly controversial subject matter. The mid to late 1800s sees many transcendentalist authors attempt to sway the general public with their radical viewpoints to varying levels of success. In addition to transcendentalist essays, poetry gains further attention as different forms begin to show prominence. Authors of these essays and poems have the freedom to speak less sensitively, and propose more profound concepts which society considers perverse or harmful. Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Henry Thoreau's views on solitude and society paint a conflicting picture of life durning the 19th century, as they simultaneously shun and embrace community; and while their…show more content…
While the statement about her reclusiveness has merit, her solidarity roots itself in her own individuality, and her animosity for others. In one of Dickinson's only known excursions from her home, she attends a female seminary where she struggles to fit in. Her biography states: "Students were regularly queried as to whether they 'professed faith,' and had 'hope,' or were resigns to 'no hope'; Dickinson remained adamantly among the small group of 'no hopes'" (Baym "Emily" 1190), which shows her natural refusal to conform. After her return home, she resides in the confines of her estate for the remainder of her life, and writes hundreds of poems with her own unique style. Her experience at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary implies a dislike of society as a whole; however, some of her poetry provides evidence of her exclusion as a personal choice rather than a hatred for her community. Dickinson attempts to publish her poetry in various newspapers, but to little avail. Her eagerness for publication indicates an acceptance of the society around her, but she refuses to partake. After her death, a friend discovers a considerable amount of her poetry, and it publishes it. People read her poetry, but it's effect remains questionable- the content sends vague messages not necessarily influential to the community she often speaks…show more content…
Whitman believes in the transcendentalist ideology; however, his interest in community life rather than individuality contradicts the transcendentalist beliefs. Emerson's groundbreaking theories of life inspire both Whitman and Thoreau, but each of them interpret Emerson's work differently. Thoreau strictly follows Emerson, whereas Whitman takes a more flexible interpretation to complement some of his lifestyle choices. He conveys his messages through his usage of free verse poetry. Whitman strives for the publication of his poetry compilation Leaves of Grass, which presents his desire for people to read his work. He writes reviews of his own work, as well as publishes a personal letter from Emerson: "As weeks passed, Whitman chose to publish a few anonymous reviews himself praising Leaves of Grass in the American Phrenological Journal, for instance, as one of 'the most glorious triumphs, in the known history of literature.' In October he let Horace Greeley's New York Tribune print Emerson's private letter of praise..." (Baym "Walt" 1007). Whitman shares this desire with Dickinson, but he achieves partial success in his life, unlike Dickinson whose work gains respect posthumously. His aspiration- to have the public recognize his genius- meshes well with his affection for society. Toward the
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