American Transcendentalist Writers Essay

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Following the influx of the puritanical style of writing in America during the 17th Century by the Founding Fathers, it could be said that what we now know as the collective `American writing' was once created almost as an effort to distance its own style from that of other European styles.

Perhaps not being incredibly popular outside their own circle of influence, writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and other Transcendentalists began, in the 19th Century, to weave a new form of writing using philosophy as the `vehicle of thought' . While this allowed them to explore new and untouched areas in the mind, it also greatly influenced many later writers from Henry Thoreau to the more `popular' and recent Mark Twain.

Let us begin with
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Although some critics may treat Walden as simply a text on the love of nature, Thoreau's message, and indeed philosophy, seems to lay deeper. Although he never openly criticises the state of America, there are certainly references to suggest that this text is somewhat a social commentary or criticism of the society in which he lived. For example he suggests `Better if [men] had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have clearer eyes what field they were called to labour in' . Through this extract, and indeed through much of the text, we can see that Thoreau uses the image of nature to suggest his own ideal of society. It seems that by isolating himself from civilisation, he begins to understand himself through self-realisation and thus establishes his own identity. From the question, `Why should they begin digging their own graves as soon as they are born?', we learn a little of Thoreau's philosophy on life: he disagrees with the collective identity of the increasingly capitalist America in which he lives, asking why should we passively comply with a capitalist machine?

Similar to the way in which Thoreau isolated himself from civilisation, poet Emily Dickinson also attempted to question the values of this new society in which she lived, except this time from within the seclusion of her own home in Massachusetts.

Clearly Dickinson's poetry was far from anything the American public had
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