Emerson and Thoreau Represent American Identity

1511 WordsJul 12, 20187 Pages
Compare and contrast the way in which Emerson and Thoreau represent American Identity. “Identity means who a person is, or the qualities of a person or group which make them different from others,” (Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, Third Edition). Every individual, group and country has their own identity which makes them different from others and it shows uniqueness of oneself. Reaction against the existing philosophy takes place when there is conflict in interest amongst the philosophers. It was from the late eighteenth century until mid nineteenth century that the philosophical and literary movement (Transcendental Movement) took place in America as a result of extreme rationalism of the enlightenment. “Transcendentalism, an…show more content…
Unlike European scholar, Emerson argues that American scholars must give importance to nature that highly influence human mind, and they must be given freedom to discover and explore new ideas. According to Emerson, true scholars should not be narrowing minded and get stuck with the books. He criticized that the prescribed books can be harmful for the society as books are the one preserving the age old degrading ideas and these ideas are not doing any good to the human and a man is too scared to speak or go against them. He feels book can kill a man’s creative thought process, but he has also mentioned that a book should be considered as a tool of information not a means to determine one’s thinking. Like Emerson, Henry David Thoreau also contributed to the creation of unique America with the belief in anti-consumerist. Thoreau was also the transcendentalist, who was a student and friend of Emerson and he was born on 12th July, 1817. Thoreau’s writing, “Walden” represented a clear identity and it was a challenge to American materialism and ideas of progress. The reformer and writer, Lydia Maria stated that, “The life exhibited in (Thoreau’s books) teaches us that this western activity of which we are so proud, these material improvements, this commercial enterprise, this rapid accumulation of wealth, even our external associated philanthropic action, are very easily
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