Nature And Romanticism In Natural Ralph Waldo Bryant's Transcendentalism

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William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” portrays multiple beliefs of the Romantic Era. Bryant’s poem encompasses common Romantic ideals and often embraces nature’s role in life. This poem highlights the freedoms of the natural world and presents the idea that one can truly obtain satisfaction away from the modernities of progression. Bryant’s verse often portrays nature as a personified being that bestows her healing and comforting powers on mankind: “She grants / into his darker musings, with a mild / and gentle sympathy, that steals away / their sharpness, ere he is aware” (5-8). This statement supports a Romantic view as it implies that nature, not progression, is the true source of a one’s comfort. Bryant also implies that the natural…show more content…
Through the essay’s entirety, there are multiple references to the core beliefs of Transcendentalism, especially those that deal with the individuality of man. Emerson often states that a man should speak his own mind, regardless of his surroundings: “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men… Speak your latent conviction and it shall be the universal sense” (549). Transcendentalism requires an individual to push the boundaries of what the world says to be true and to use his own instinct to find the truth. Emerson broadens this idea to include man’s individuality:“imitation is suicide” (550). Emerson states that a man has to form his own opinions about the world in which he resides in. If a man uses the world’s beliefs, he loses his own, forcing him to give up the opportunity of individuality and conform to society. Finally, Emerson encourages individuals to live freely without regard to the common standards that society places: “life is not an apology, but a life… it is for itself and not for a spectacle… Life should be unique” (557). Emerson implies that every life is special, automatically making it different. One should embrace this difference and not be concerned with society’s ridicules. This freedom allows one to form his core values and dive deeper into understanding himself, a common theme in the…show more content…
The essay highlights the beliefs of emotional devotion to oneself and freedom from progression. Emerson embodies the Romantic view of imagination and emotion by implying that an individual should trust the view of his heart over the views of the intellectual community: “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string” (550). By putting one’s faith into their values, an individual can remain true to himself and not lose his place in the progression of society. Emerson also addresses the Romantic disdain of the Progressive Movement: “Your miscellaneous popular charities; the education at college of fools; the building of meeting-houses to the vain end to which many now stand … it is a wicked dollar” (552). Emerson exposes the wastefulness of modern accommodations and ultimately expresses the need to return back to older practices since the new applications were failing to add to society. Finally, Emerson again appeals to Romantic emotion by describing life in the progressive world: “[Life] should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, [rather] than … glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding” (552). By comparing the simple, sweet life of a Romanticist to the hectic, unstable life of a Progressive, Emerson generates a desire for the old way of life and brings
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