Transcendentalism: Henry David Thoreau And Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Majority of the most eye-opening and inspirational thoughts came from a movement called transcendentalism. The people who preached the spread these ideas were known as transcendentalists. These are people who follow the five basic principles of transcendentalism, confidence, simplicity, non-conformity, nature, and self reliance. Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson are the two most important figures of this topic who have influenced many people like Chris McCandless. Throughout the novel Into the Wild, McCandless’ journey is comparable to the works of classic transcendentalists, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. One of the many transcendentalists that inspired and motivated McCandless was Henry David Thoreau. Throughout Thoreau’s…show more content…
Emerson encouraged his transcendental beliefs in his novels “Self-Reliance” and “Nature”. His essay called “Self-Reliance” was basically a collection of his journal entries dating as far back as 1832, focusing on the idea of self-reliance and many other beliefs of transcendentalism. Emerson writes, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness”(Emerson 370). In this quote, Emerson sums up the core of non-conformity and states exactly what it takes to be a nonconformist. Although the idea of non-conformity may seem skeptical by many because if everyone is doing something, it must be good, but this is exactly what he’s trying to warn against. He asserts that using society’s verdict to judge something isn’t good enough, one must investigate and learn the truth for himself. Although McCandless grew up amongst people who followed the likes and dislikes of society, he decides to think differently and accept some of the ideas shared by Emerson. Throughout the entire novel, McCandless is show following his own set of beliefs rather than what his parents believe or society wants him to believe. While Ron explains the narrator about his time with McCandless, and mentions the letter he received…“The very…show more content…
Thoreau’s memoir, Walden, demonstrates what it means to be self-reliant because of many obvious reasons. During the time of this memoir, he decided to be alone in a cabin near Walden pond to conduct his experiment. . Thoreau writes, “I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours”(Thoreau 386). This quote makes Thoreau’s point very clear, because it shows how no matter how far success may seem, if one stays confident and knows exactly what is needed to achieve it, they will eventually get success. Whenever one has to persevere through tough times or just through life in general, self reliance is a key that everyone needs. Thoreau stresses the idea of becoming more self reliant and showing how one can accomplish their goals without needing the support of anyone. Understanding this idea of Thoreau’s, McCandless is able to basically live on his own and survive for many months without the help of anyone in the wilderness of Alaska. Although McCandless could’ve easily stopped at any point in the journey with the people he met across the country, he knew his mission, and he also knew that he could do it alone. Krakauer writes, “He had fled the
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