Transcendentalism arose in the 1830s in the eastern United States. New England is the modern day pinpoint of the rise of this movement. The philosophy of Transcendentalism is a reaction to intellectualism. Intellectualism is exercising intellect rather at the damage of emotion. While transcendentalism was a considered to be a movement that focused on transcending your spirituality to that rationality and the material world. One of the many beliefs among transcendentalist is that humans are fundamentally corrupted by society, therefore they should strive for self reliance. (Transcendentalism.). The word transcendent means to exceed the usual limits, and I believe the members of this movement were exceeding the usual limits by looking past what your “average Joe,” would see. By noticing that humans are corrupted by society, we can realize that conforming to be like a everyone else is a daily pattern. With this in mind, we can begin to see beyond the physical appearance of day-to-day life and begin to exam our lives through a microscope.
The essay by E.B. White and the original work by Henry David Thoreau on "Walden" both reflect on the serenity of Thoreau's Walden Pond. Here Thoreau gives the tone of the simple pleasures of nature, " As I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy, and I see nothing special to attract me, all the elements are unusually congenial to me. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, and the note of the whip-poor-will is borne on the rippling wind from over the water. Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface. Though it is now dark, the wind still blows and roars in the wood, the waves still dash, and some creatures lull the rest with their notes. The repose is never complete. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear." He is separated from the rest of the bustling world and happy that way. Thoreau's work was one that was thought provoking and solemn in tone and he had a simple yet detailed style that gave you a clear picture of the place he was living.
Henry Thoreau’s masterpiece, Walden or a Life in the Woods, shows the impact transcendentalism had on Thoreau’s worldview. Transcendentalism is a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual over the material. Transcendentalism puts the emphasis on spiritual growth and understanding as opposed to worldly pleasures. Thoreau’s idea of transcendentalism stressed the importance of nature and being close to nature. He believed that nature was a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment. A walk in the woods therefore was a search for spiritual enlightenment. One should look ‘through’ nature, not merely ‘at’ her.
The excerpt Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, is a piece that explores the purpose of life, especially if it isn 't lived to the fullest. Thoreau starts by sharing the meaning and value of life. His idea of his personal achievement was to live life and die with a sense of peace and knowledge that he did not waste a single moment. He wanted to live life while being true to himself regardless of whether he would find life to be cruel or a wonderful place, and this was a risk he was willing to take. In a modern sense we are intrigued by technology. Although those in favor of technology may say that the new devices and applications do not affect human interaction and our way of living we are, are unable to see that, even in a room filled with people, there is an isolation barrier and an inability to live life to the fullest.
Thoreau questions society and essentially the core of its practicality, posing the question: Is the idea of a civil citizen possible without loosing ones’ principles? In his essay he articulates, “Unjust laws exist: shall we be content
After spending a night in jail, after nonpayment of Massachusetts poll tax, Thoreau wrote his essay “Civil Disobedience”. He states that governments are mostly “inexpedient” (1577), or not practical. At best, Thoreau pushed the idea that the government isn’t useful because it is not our own. He writes “What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army” (1580). Americans listen to the rules established by the government, but it is not necessary, because the government is just the majority of people with whom are living off a different countries rules. The reason the government is even there, is because it gives the citizens some type of stable structure to live by. Thoreau feels that the government is unjust and the citizens of America should not follow rules. He feels like a reform is in need; “It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong” and “not to give it practically his support” (1582). Thoreau and Emerson both push for social reform of the individual. Emerson wants the individual to be reliant on themselves, and not fall into the conformity of the American society. Thoreau, also teaches the individual to think different then the governmental established rules. Both authors want the readers to trust themselves, before they trust the
Instead, Thoreau built a simple but efficient cabin and furnished it with the basic necessity of a bed, table, chairs and desk. He also didn't waste his time and energy trying to keep up with the latest fashions; he wore comfortable and long lasting clothes. Thoreau explained to his readers that this simplistic way of life decreased the dreariness of every day life and left more time to explore one's meaning of life and his role in the world. Freeing oneself from the economic race, Thoreau argued, allowed for individual to be inspired by nature and focus on the genuine concerns of life.
Thoreau did not only suffer from unfounded superiority, he was also an extreme hypocrite who failed to live up to the expectations he set for the rest of man. For instance, one of Thoreau’s fundamental ideologies included his belief that in order to live a good life people needed live in nature, freeing themselves of everything except the necessities. This fundamental transcendental idea, one that was discussed extensively by Ralph Waldo Emerson and
Thoreau asserts and criticizes how the government is running and explaining how it has an effect to its people. This piece was written in the 19th century and took place on the year of 1849. Thoreau expresses that when men are prepared to transmit themselves by behaving wisely and responsibly, that will be the government they will have. Thoreau is an 19th century white male who attempts to grab the attention of a white audience. His purpose is to inform the people of how the government is handling the laws and unjust American policies. Thoreau's tone appears to be defiant in his writing to the clamor as to why he refuses to pay his taxes and chose to protest in civil disobedience. He argues the need for the individual action to a higher
In “Resistance to Civil Government,” Thoreau states, “The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it” (Norton Anthology 843). He goes on to discuss how the government needs to be amended. This quote sums up the main point of the writing. Thoreau saw an issue in a prominent organization and spoke out about it. He even proposed a solution to this major problem. Thus, he embodies the idea
Whom authors one of literature's most convincing arguments of transcendentalism for its time and is a philosophic writer that abandoned society and lived in the woods? This famous and influential author is one Henry David Thoreau and the paragraphs being analysed are the two closing paragraphs of the second chapter in his seminal work Walden. Within Thoreau’s passages, he very much advocates for a return to nature, rejecting the fast pace of society. The way Thoreau goes about persuading readers to his argument is through employing skillful use of parallel structure and metaphors.
In Walden, Henry D. Thoreau presented a radical and controversial perspective on society that was far beyond its time. In a period where growth both economically and territorially was seen as necessary for the development of a premature country, Thoreau felt the opposite. Thoreau was a man in search of growth within himself and was not concerned with outward improvements in him or society. In the chapter entitled "economy," he argued that people were too occupied with work to truly appreciate what life has to offer. He felt the root of this obsession with work was created through the misconstrued perception that material needs were a necessity, rather than a hindrance to true happiness and the
Transcendentalism was an American literature movement urging people to look past everyday material life, and reach into their souls to find inner peace with themselves. Transcendentalism originally came from Kantian idealism. This idealism was credited by Immanuel Kant.
Therefore, Thoreau was ahead of his time as historians place the golden age of free thought from 1875 to 1914. This idea of personal freedom was not popular at the time “Walden” was only a marginal success. Afterward, in the Civil Rights moment the “Walden” became very popular with young Americans. The “Walden” inspired theses’ Americans to obtain real freedom with many examples. “I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of.” At the time most, parents expected their sons to take over the farm after the father became feeble. Therefore, most men were forced to work the farm instead of pursuing what they wanted. Instead a man becomes a machine that has no freedom. Therefore, have a feeling that his only function was to replace the old machine before him. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” Technologies today give us the illusion of heightened freedom. In the United States, we can obtain every material item we desire. Even though we still have the highest rate of anxiety disorders and depression in the world. Thoreau explains “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” To have true freedom and happiness you must face your demons. As material earnings can’t cover up your inner truth. Many Americans can’t handle the truth and this why we live a life of desperation. Thoreau
While Thoreau continues to paint himself in a brilliant light, he also rejects the opinions of the outside world with specific allusions and similes. He manages to put himself and decisions on an implicit pedestal, disguising it as man’s desire for material possession and complexity. By referencing the “German Confederacy, made of up petty states” (Paragraph 2), Thoreau intertwines both connotation and a relevant allusion to current events at the time. This gives Thoreau’s readers a chance to connect with his writing and believe that they are the problem for not dropping their belongings and bounding into the nearest forest to live a life of modesty. He also uses colloquialism to simultaneously draw his readers in while alienating himself from the common issues of man, “The nation itself, with all its so-called internal improvements, which, by the way are all external and superficial, is just such an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps,” (Paragraph 2). The famous author’s special attention to colloquialisms, including “so-called”, create an atmosphere familiar to his readers. However, his decision to mention furniture and traps conflict with Thoreau's own ideas of a materialist lifestyle. Even as simply uses hyperboles to get a point across, “Men say that