Henry David Thoreau's Transcendentalism

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Transcendentalists believed that humans and nature are one, and that each person is the center of the universe. Essentially, humans are Divine by nature. The main focus of transcendentalist authors was to make apparent the true nature of humankind, when they listened inwardly to their natural desires. Although many authors believed that people were instinctually good, there are a few that believed that humans are, by nature, evil. This essay will compare Henry David Thoreau’s positive transcendentalism, which believes everyone is good, to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s negative transcendentalist writings. Henry David Thoreau believed that nature and people were naturally good, and that humans can awaken themselves to that. What it means for humans …show more content…

The use of the word here is to relate people who are not awake to parts of the train track that get buried underground and used or run over. Thoreau further explains the downsides of being a sleeper when he says: Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irish-man, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and run over; so that, if some have the pleasure of riding on a rail, others have the misfortune to be ridden upon. (1029) After reading this, it’s easy to see why it is better to be awake. If someone is a sleeper, they get run over by others and ridden upon. No one who is aware of that would wish for it to happen to them. However, despite sleepers being a common issue, Thoreau has hope. He sees the sleepers, and says that he is thankful that it looks like they may eventually “get up” (1029). This goes back to his positive transcendentalist view. He believes that everyone has the ability to wake up, even if they are currently sleepers. In contrast, Nathaniel Hawthorne incorporated a lot of dark romanticism into his transcendentalist views and writings, resulting in a much more negative take on transcendentalism. Where Thoreau believe that people can be spiritually awakened to their inner good, and

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