Taking a Look at the Transcendental Movement

1455 WordsFeb 23, 20186 Pages
The transcendental movement arose in the early nineteenth century. This literary, political, and philosophical movement was, and still continues to be, closely associated with both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Emerson and Thoreau were both extremely intellectual men of their time and are now the figureheads of transcendentalism. In the simplest terms, to “transcend” means to rise above and beyond the norms of society¾ not physically, but mentally. Transcendentalists, such as Emerson and Thoreau, believed that for one to determine the ultimate reality of God, the universe, and the self, one had to transcend everyday human experiences. Ideas that form the basis of transcendentalism are still continuously being used today in popular culture, such as in films, novels, and even songs. One instance of a modern text in which the aspects of transcendentalism are incorporated extensively is the 1989 film, Dead Poets Society. The film shows that transcending and wanting to make change for the better is in and of itself something positive. However, it becomes evident during countless scenes in the movie, and most clearly at the end, that rising above the norm leads to neither anything good nor positive. Throughout the movie, Dead Poets Society, many key and fundamental elements of transcendentalism are presented in a way which subsequently sheds a new light on the ideas of transcendentalism and its place in modern-day society, or better yet, its lack of place.
Open Document