Henry David Thoreau And Individualism

1309 Words6 Pages
Without Emerson and Thoreau’s beliefs in the individual, our country would not have the rights and equalities that make it America. America was founded on individualism. The need to create a government catering to individual needs sparked a revolution against the biggest world power of the time. It is fitting that the only true American literary movement, transcendentalism, is built upon individualism. The first transcendentalist writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson, advocated for individuality in his works. Subsequently, Henry David Thoreau, Emerson’s protégée, took Emerson’s ideas to the next level, urging his readers to break free of conformity and live to the fullest. Thoreau also explored how to achieve the coveted individualism that Emerson reveres. The need for activism in individualism is realized in a work written about Thoreau, The Night Thoreau Went to Jail. Individualism is paramount for the transcendentalist lifestyle and sculpts the way these two men lead their lives. The essays “Self Reliance,” “Civil Disobedience,” and “Walden” delve further into these ideals. Emerson expressed many facets of individualism in his work “Self Reliance.” The individual was of highest importance to him and claimed: “nothing can bring you peace but yourself” (223). In Emerson’s eyes, to be at peace one needed to be true to themselves. His bond with nature ties into individuality in the piece “Nature.” He speaks of how “in the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of
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