The Transcendentalism in Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Transcendentalists were often less concerned with what they saw in front of them, and more concerned on what it meant. Transcendentalism is certainly about forgetting the literal meaning of things and taking into account the divinity of them. Thoreau’s impression of this genre shows up regularly in his works. Henry David Thoreau’s independence and time with Emerson strengthened his as a transcendentalist as shown in Walden and “A Winter’s Walk.”
Henry David Thoreau was a major figure in the transcendentalist movement. He was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817 (“Henry David Thoreau” biography.co). Richard J. Schneider’s article, “Thoreau's Life” reveals that he went to public school in Concord, then attended Concord Academy. Thoreau was somewhat different than other children in Concord. “As a child he rarely followed the rules and was independent and strong-willed” (Brozo, et al. 377). Being independent as a child shows up very clearly in Thoreau’s adult life. Later Schneider states that Thoreau went to Harvard College and graduated in the top of his class. However, he had to graduate early because he was very ill and not financially able to continue. Thoreau worked at many places throughout the years. He taught at a school, worked at his family’s pencil factory, and opened a school with his brother (Schneider). He even worked as a land surveyor (Witherell and Dubrulle). Thoreau was friends with a great transcendentalist writer, Ralph Waldo Emerson. Thoreau spent two years living at a place called Walden Pond, which was property of Emerson (“Henry David Thoreau” biography.com). As stated in the biography, “Henry David Thoreau,” “He experimented with working as little as possible rather than engage in the pattern of six days on with one day off.” This may seem like a lazy way of living, but to Thoreau it was something more. “He felt that this new approach helped him avoid the misery he saw around him” (“Henry David”). The hardship that Thoreau was feeling from the world was the public. The public admired technology and did not appreciate nature like he did. Henry
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Henry David Thoreau’s words that “disobedience is the true foundation of liberty” and that “the obedient must be slaves” is a political statement that never lost its topicality during the Romantic era. Thoreau served as an important contributor to the philosophical and American literary movement known as New England Transcendentalism. Nature and the conduct of life are two central themes that are often weaved together in his essays and books that were published in the Romantic era of literature. Thoreau brought these two themes together to write on how people ought to live a simplistic life through embracing nature. His naturalistic writing intertwined cataloging and observation with Transcendentalist views of nature. Through his life and
“There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil” -Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self Reliance. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a transcendentalist. Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement that originated in the 19th century and was primarily influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalists’ main beliefs are: self-reliance is essential to one’s life, nature is divine, every person should have an optimistic outlook, and humanity needs to adhere to their personal morals and beliefs. In today’s world we still see a multitude of the beliefs of transcendentalism.
Henry David Thoreau was a great American writer, philosopher, and naturalist of the 1800’s who’s writings have influenced many famous leaders in the 20th century, as well as in his own lifetime. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, where he was later educated at Harvard University. Thoreau was a transcendentalist writer, which means that he believed that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” experience and are better guides to truth than are the senses and logical reason (Prentice Hall 1174). Thoreau is well known for writing Walden Pond, Excursions, The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, and A Yankee in Canada. In 1849 Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay
Why is solitude looked down on society? It should be advised by people to start engaging in the concept of solitude. Henry David Thoreau and Chris McCandless were both transcendentalism that believes in the key fundamental idea that the human body should partake in such as solitude. Henry Thoreau was a transcendentalist that practiced the form of solitude throughout his life. He left society and moved into the woods to be removed from the confines of society. Along with Thoreau, a more modern-day transcendentalist was known as Chris McCandless. McCandless journeyed to the wilderness in Alaska to be able to experience a minimal amount of human interaction along with the solitude that comes with it. The concept of solitude should be
Followers of the Transcendentalist movement stressed the religious, philosophical and ideological importance of life. Henry David Thoreau was a staunch supporter of the movement. Thoreau felt that a person lived a good life by following his conscience and instincts. He also felt that materialism was a sure way to distract a person from leading a good and moral life. Thoreau proposed for the government to be involved in as little of a citizen's life as possible; he felt too much government control just complicated a person's life. Like most Transcendentalists, Thoreau believed there was a direct connection to God through nature. If a person appreciated nature he would gain a higher understanding of God. Finally, Thoreau encouraged
Transcendentalism, or the belief that there is a direct connection between a man’s individual soul and nature, was a very avant-garde movement throughout its peak; although now, American society continues to grow increasingly distant from it. These ideals are reflected in the works of Henry David Thoreau and Jon Krakauer, as well as the life of Chris McCandless. Throughout Thoreau’s novel Walden he distinctly preaches the belief that in society, men have become more focused on work and material possessions than life’s simple pleasures and freedoms. In the same manner, Krakauer and McCandless both draw inspiration from Thoreau, and ultimately share spiritual experiences throughout their adventures, both seeking to find life’s true purpose. Although many will argue that transcendental ideas and culture are outdated and have no place in today’s humanity, transcendentalism itself, and the ideals possessed by Henry David Thoreau and Chris McCandless have played a major role in American society, in that they appeal to the spiritual side of every man, which accredits to the belief that only life’s bare necessities are required in order to live a fulfilled life. However, it is unfeasible to live a transcendental lifestyle in today’s insatiable, consumerist society.
In the play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by authors Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, we see Henry David Thoreau locked in jail because of his unyielding will to not conform to the government or society's expectations, when their expectations are unwholesome. During his time spent in jail we see the idea of transcendentalism develop through Henry’s belief that even though he’s is locked up he is more free than any freeman could ever hope to be. Just as it was relevant in Thoreau's lifetime, freeing yourself from society’s norms /freedom from the government, transcending yourself, and being individualistic are all still important now.
Transcendentalism was what Emerson and Thoreau touched most with their writings. They took their words, and created something new that many people would later follow. Transcendentalism is the nature of being one with yourself, and learning to better yourself through nature, and self knowledge. The quote from above is an example of what the two figures preached. Emerson believed that consistency of thought was foolished, and he highlighted the fact that having a consistent mind was mindless. He believed people should have an open mind, and be able to look at things in different perspectives.
Attending college, beginning a career, starting a family, and ultimately getting trapped in a daily routine are components in life that many see no means of escape. The lure of living off the grid with no responsibilities or connections to adult life are attractive but unattainable to most people. The experiences of Chris McCandless chronicled in Jon Krakauer’s book, Into the Wild, mystify the nation, along with many of the people he meets during his journey. From stories of those who meet McCandless along the way, people were able to put the pieces together and make a few assumptions for the reason he chooses to go into the wild. Individualism, living a minimalistic life, nonconformity, going into nature, and trusting oneself are fundamental Transcendentalist principles that McCandless also exemplifies. Two well-known proponents of the Transcendental movement, writers Henry Thoreau and Ralph Emerson, also have a strong connection to nature, that are also shown in Chris McCandless’s journey. This connection with nature requires someone to go into nature to clear the mind of meaningless things, and to open up their consciousness to what nature has to offer them. In doing so, a bond with their surroundings that has a direct impact on their well being and mental wellness. Chris McCandless, as described by Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, demonstrates becoming one with nature through nature’s impact on his well being and mental health.
According to Dictionary.com Transcendentalism is, “any philosophy based upon the doctrine that the principles of reality are to be discovered by the study of the processes of thought, or a philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical”, but that’s only part of what Transcendentalism is. Transcendentalism is standing for One of the first people to write about Transcendentalism were Henry David Thoreau writer of “Resistance to Civil Government” and Ralph Waldo Emerson writer of “Nature” and “Self-Reliance”. Those writers through their writing inspired people like Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi.
“Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” (Thoreau 6). Society and life both intertwine and ebb and flow like Ying and Yang, in which one cannot exist without the influences of the other but still act separately from one other. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau, a passionate Transcendentalist, and naturalist, delivers a scathing critique of Western society’s obsession with consumerism and materialism that “progresses” at the cost of the natural world, including humanity, which he expresses through his spiritual experiences and oneness with “simplicity” at Walden Pond. Eudora Welty, on the other hand, through the emotional grief of Mrs. Larkin in “A Curtain of Green,” depicts a rejection of Southern women social obligations and conventions through her unruly appearance and flawed behavior.
Transcendentalist has a handful of principals from self-reliance to the thought of technology is harmful.The main tenet throughout the paper will focus on the importance of nature. Transcendentalist views nature as a gateway to the spiritual world, a way to the Omnipower. Henry David Thoreau immersed himself into nature fully “The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted; but few are the ears that hear it”(Thoreau II). Thoreau reveals how he has taken the time to observe nature to its fullest extent. He saw nature as a neighbor who was to be respected just as a man would treat another. Ralph Waldo Emerson a great transcendentalist, a mentor to Thoreau. Emerson’s point of view of nature showed how men and nature can become one to uplift themselves from the worldly shackles. Thoreau and Emerson both had a concept that nature was essentials to mankind, one sought out to respect it and the other viewed as a form of release.Nature is important to transcendentalism because it leads to spiritual connection and harmonization.
There have been numerous religious rebellions throughout history, but none quite like that of Transcendentalism. This movement embodies the idea that spiritual growth can be achieved through personal journey instead of conflicting with organized religion. By the time of the movement’s onset, newly gained religious freedom in the United States allowed for new ideas and beliefs to prosper freely. At the heart of this movement was Transcendentalism philosophy famous ambassadors, Ralph Waldo Emerson and apprentice Henry David Thoreau. These men believed nature is what forces us not to depend on other ideas but to develop our own.
Transcendentalism was a movement to break away from the societal norms, and to find your own passion for life. At the time, many wanted to part ways with what they thought was the correct life to live, and to find their own voice. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a transcendentalist writer at the time, wrote, “you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it … but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (Emerson). There will always be people telling what you can and cannot do, but you must be independent; to not let anyone live your life but yourself. It is an unfortunate reality that some people cannot find themselves and live the stereotypical lifestyle, which society labels how we should go through life. Scenes from the film Dead Poets Society, and opinions from Henry David Thoreau show impactful similarities to Emerson’s text. There is much truth in Emerson’s essay, in the sense that nobody should have to live the life of someone else; needing to break free from those societal norms to be independent and become their own person.
My creation of the heart represents the element of emotion and intuition. The left side of the heart has red, yellow and orange flames to represent the uncontrollable rage/anger and the right side of the heart is plain blue with few sparkles to show the overall calmness of the human soul. I then created the quote, “Although emotions are different one must understand their bond and follow it”. The “it” I am referring to is emotions and in order to “understand” their emotions one must have intuition. I want to show how it is important for one to first understand the emotion that they are feeling and later follow that emotion.