Compare And Contrast The Relationship Between Man And Nature In Emerson And Thoreau

1280 words - 5 pages

In the mid 19th century, a famous philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism came into limelight when reason and logic was the vital basis for answering any and every truth. According to Oxford University Press (2014) transcendentalism is “an idealistic philosophical and social movement that developed in New England around 1836 in reaction to rationalism. Influenced by romanticism and German philosophy of individualism, it taught that divinity transcends all nature and humanity.” Further, the members of transcendentalism held strong views on idea feminism and communal living, (Oxford University Press, 2014). Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were the fundamental figures of this movement. The perspective placed on the role of man and nature through the eyes of Emerson and Thoreau deviate slightly as Emerson’s focus was on broadening man’s imagination by embracing nature whereas Thoreau was focused on encouraging man to use his own thoughts to attain the answers rather than relying exclusively on nature but their ideologies regarding nature and its importance in man’s life has strong similarities.
The era of Industrial Revolution had significantly manipulated the culture and scenario during the times of Emerson and Thoreau. It was the period where the world had begun to get communally involved and people became more inclined towards finding the conveniences for life. This situation helped link the lives of men to one another, bounded by the norms of society. When a man is trapped by the manacles of society, he becomes a mere thinker by deviating from man thinking (Emerson, 1837). Man, thus, loses touch with his inner self and the sublime nature that surrounds him and becomes a mere puppet of the society enveloping him. Emerson (1837) states that when a man falls victim to society, he tends to become a mere thinker from man thinking and even worse, he becomes “the parrot of other men's thinking.” In such a situation, man starts believing in what is taught and shown to him and never tries to think beyond what is in front of him. He, like any other man, becomes in tuned to selfish gains and forgets what he is losing because of his greed and ambitions.
The scholars of today, Emerson finds, are becoming bookworms by relying entirely on books written ages ago for reason and truth. Emerson (1837) writes “Each age, it is found, must write its own books; or rather, each generation for the next succeeding. The books of an older period will not fit this.” This simply is Emerson asking the present generation of scholars to focus on their intellect and individuality rather than accepting the opinion of other people. By relying solely on books and abandoning man thinking, man restricts himself from taking in the essence and beauty of nature from which he once originated. According to Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1837, “so much of nature as he is ignorant of, so much of his own mind does he not yet possess”. Emerson explains that a man is more...

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