Emerson Essay

602 words - 2 pages

Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist and poet, was a central figure in the transcendental movement of the mid-19th century. Published in 1841, his essay 'Self-Reliance' introduced the core ideas of transcendentalism to the American public. In many ways, 'Self-Reliance' was a call to arms, inviting Americans to use their personal strengths and talents to foster change. In this lesson, we'll analyze Emerson's essay 'Self-Reliance' for characteristics of transcendental ideas, including individualism, nonconformity, and intuition.Review of TranscendentalismIn 1836, a small group of New England writers and intellectuals founded a literary and philosophical movement known as transcendentalism. The group rejected organized religion; they believed one should develop a personal, intuitive relationship with god and nature. By contemplating nature, one could transcend the physical world and unite with the 'Over-Soul,' the true energy of the universe. Along with Emerson, transcendentalism influenced the work of writers Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Emily Dickinson.The transcendentalists championed individualism, which is the practice of independence in thought and action based on the premise that individual character and personality are of the utmost importance. Accordingly, individuals are free to pursue their goals and private desires without taking into consideration the interests of society. This idea greatly shaped America's identity.From the lone cowboy who seeks vengeance without any regard for the long arm of the law, to someone like Lady Gaga, who pursues success while staying true to her unique creativity and personal style, Emerson believed that diversity enriched society. He encouraged American artists to develop distinctive styles rather than looking to the European past masters of literature, art, and architecture.Within 'Self-Reliance,' Emerson urged readers to 'trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.' Emerson also suggested children as models of authentic behavior in 'Self-Reliance.' While man was 'clapped...

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