Transcendentalism In 'Walden And Nature' By Henry David Thoreau

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Transcendentalism was a philosophical movement that occurred in America after the Enlightenment and before the Civil War. Transcendental authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau espoused closeness with nature throughout their lifespan while doing the same with self-reliance and nonconformity with mainstream society. This can be proven true for the stories “Nature” by Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau.
In “Nature” by Ralph Emerson, Emerson states “The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable.” In other words, Emerson is saying that one shares the same love and happiness to fields and woods as they would towards vegetables.
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Uniquely, both Emerson and Thoreau were no different from the other individuals when it came to the thoughts on society. To support this reasoning, Ralph Emerson states in “Self -Reliance” that “To be great is to be misunderstood”. From one’s perspective after reading this piece of work, Emerson is saying that you should not change yourself for anyone else or society as well as to keep pursuing your dreams and life. In other words, maybe Emerson was trying to say that society will always try to hold you back no matter what you do or what actions you take. In “Civil Disobedience”, Thoreau states “It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate.” Thoreau meant that the government exists because the people have chosen it to execute their will, but it is susceptible to be misused such as one’s tool. In result, Thoreau stated that he simply wanted a better government. Additionally, one of the strategies he tried to better the government with was by withdrawing support from the government. Thoreau stated, “If imprisonment is the result, there is no shame in it...prison is the best place for a just man in an unjust society”. Ultimately, this is how Emerson and Thoreau’s relationship was towards society and their perspectives on…show more content…
From my perspective, it seemed like Thoreau spent more time writing about the “self” while Emerson was more engrossed how the “self” did not have to fit in with the structures of the government or society. To support Emerson’s side, Emerson wrote more on nature, such as describing the fields, woods, and vegetables. This showed that Emerson didn’t really feel that government and society were that important and used nature to block it out. On the other hand, Thoreau wrote about how he and numerous people could withdraw from the government and how unfair it treated them. This showed Thoreau was more focused on the “self” rather than standing out and using techniques such as nature to block it out. As a final point, this is how Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau contrast, although they are very similar in multiple
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