The Theme Of Individualism By Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The theme of individualism is present in several of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s works. It was also his philosophical views on how to live life. He believed that human beings had remarkable capabilities, more than they can possibly identify. With these capabilities a person should govern themselves, not be governed by a society. Emerson also believed that nature played a large role in how man should act and to follow nature’s actions of growing without obstruction (“Nature”). This is why he lead the Transcendentalism movement in the nineteenth century, along with Theodore Parker, Frederic Henry Hedge, Amos Bronson Alcott, Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau (Lewis). This philosophy was not only significant then, it was imperative throughout times in history.
Emerson speaks of Americas ability to deviate from the norms set in Europe in one of his formal speeches given in 1837 on August 31st in Cambridge. It was simply titled “The American Scholar” (originally titled: An Oration Delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] August 31, 1837). He begins with speaking of how this gathering is distinctive and is nothing like the ones of the past in Europe. He believes it is time to begin anew as a new country of people. He believed that the society they were living in were only allowing them to imitate with the majority and not allow them to be “Man Thinking”. (Emerson, “The American Scholar”). The only way to reflect on such a high level is to throw
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