Transcendentalism In Ralph Waldo Emerson And Henry David Thoreau

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Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were two central figures representing transcendentalism. Transcendentalism, in a simple definition, is what is intuitively believed to be true rather than scientifically proven. It’s about believing that people are at their best when they are independent and don’t rely on others. Emerson was a lecturer and poet in the 1800s, and Thoreau was Emerson’s student. Both men practiced nonconformity and originality. In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance” and Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Walden,” both men’s ideas are very similar in the sense that both bashed the political, religious, and modern day culture in the United States at the time. “Self Reliance” gives the reader ideas on how to live a nonconformist life as to where “Walden” shows the reader how the author lived out these ideas. Emerson and Thoreau showed their nonconformist practices by taking responsibility for their own actions, possessing self reliance, and not being envious of others.
According to transcendentalism, individuals should take responsibility for themselves and not ask for help. One of the major ideas in “Self Reliance” is to trust yourself. Emerson says, “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face,” meaning doing things differently than what is seen as “normal” in society will cause people to think or look at you strangely. Emerson is saying we must not care what other people think
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