Transcendentalist Influences: Ralph Waldo Emerson And Henry David Thoreau

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Transcendentalist Influence When the transcendentalist movement began, between 1820 and 1830, it was a retaliation against the modern concepts of religion and society that was prominent in the eastern region of the United States at the time. Writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are the most well-known among transcendentalist writers, possibly because they served as an inspiration to many other writers. Together these transcendentalist writers, including Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and many others, joined the movement and began to spread the transcendentalist philosophy and moral code. Often times, writers that identified with transcendentalist thinking were involved in social reform, particularly anti-slavery and women’s rights movements. In regard to understanding the defiant writings of Whitman and Dickinson, it is important to understand exactly what they are rebelling from, and their reasons for doing so. While Whitman and Dickinson wrote about different things and had slightly different backgrounds, they have more similarities than differences in their common literary themes of love, life and death, individualism, and nature. Evangelical Christianity was prominent in their society, yet they shared the controversial outlook that spirituality could be found within one’s self and in elements of nature. The similar, yet distinct, backgrounds of Whitman and Dickinson played a key role in their views and practices of transcendentalism. Born in 1819,

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