New England Transcedentalsim
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a nineteenth-century transcendentalism author. Self-reliance and independence were ideas that were highly valued by him as well as other transcendentalist authors of his time. The transcendentalist believed in non-conformity and a belief that nature was an influential aspect of peoples life. They believed in an Oversoul that everything was a part of; from humans to plants to everything on the earth. They believed that when you died you became part of nature with everything else. Emily Dickinson and Henry David Thoreau were prominent
authors from the nineteenth century. They may or may disciples" of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Ralph Waldo Emerson led an intellectual movement that somehow affected most the writers of the New England Renaissance. He believed that human senses could only perceive reality. He thought that, only though intuition not through the senses, the fundamental truths of the human beings and the universe could be reached. The
transcendentalist believed that the human spirit was reflected in nature and focused there
attention on nature. He also believed in non-conformity and self-reliance. The next
excerpt from "Self-Reliance" shows his transcendentalist belief in non-conformity and
self-reliance: "Society is a joint-stock company in which members agree for the better
securing of his bread to each share holder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the
eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not
realties and creators, but names and customs."
Emerson also had the belief that nature was spiritually linked with the humanity.
This excerpt from "Nature" shows this belief: "Yet it is certain that the power to produce
delight does not reside in nature, but in man, or the harmony of both.......Nature always
wears the color of the spirit." The center of their beliefs revolved around the idea that
God, nature, and human beings were united in a shared soul or Over-Soul. The following
excerpt from "Nature" shows his belief in the Over-Soul: "I am a transparent eyeball; I
am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me...." Ralph
Waldo Emerson was the leader of the Transcendentalist movement, believing in:
non-conformity, self-reliance, humans spiritual connection to nature and the over-Soul.
Henry David Thoreau was a spiritual disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was
as much as transcendentalist as Emerson. He believed in humanity being spiritually
linked to nature. This excerpt from "Walden" shows his belief: "Wherever I sat, there I
might live, and the landscape radiated from me accordingly....." He also believed in also
believed in the Over-Soul as shown in this excerpt from "Walden": "The winds which
passed over my dwelling were such as sweep over the ridges of mountains, bearing the
broken strains, or celestial parts only, of terrestrial music. In this following excerpt from
"Civil Disobedience" Thoreau shows his belief in non-conformity: "That government
that is best which governs least....That government which is best governs not at all." In
this next excerpt from "Civil Disobedience" he show his belief in self-reliance: "Let
every man make known what kind of government would command his respect."
Henry David Thoreau believed in all the transcendentalist believes as Ralph Waldo
Emerson: humans are spiritually linked to humans, there is an Over-Soul,
non-conformity, and self-reliance, which lead to the assumption that Henry David
Thoureau is a spiritual disciple of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Unlike Henry David Thoureau, Emily Dickinson was not really a spiritual disciple
of Ralph Waldo Emerson. She believed in some of the beliefs of Emerson and Thoreau
but not others. Dickinson had a unique style unlike any other author of her time. Her
poems didn't show that she believed in nature being linked to the human spirit. Instead
she implies that nature has a potential for evil, as shown in this excerpt from "A narrow
Fellow in the Grass": "But never met this Fellow/ Attended, or alone/Without a tighter
breathing/And Zero at the bone." She doesn't show that she has a belief in the
Over-Soul. Unlike transcendentalist beliefs, Dickinson believes that humanity's
spirituality is self-sufficient. This is shown in the following excerpt from "How happy is
the little Stone": "How happy is the little Stone/ That rambles in the Road alone/ And
doesn't care about Careers/ And exigencies never fears-" Agreeing with the
transcendentalist beliefs, Dickinson believes in non-conformity, as shown in the
following poem by Dickinson: "There is a solitude of space/ A solitude of space/ A
solitude of death, but these/ society shall be/ Compared with that profounder site/ That
polar privacy/ A soul admitted to itself-/ Finite Infinity." Also like the transcendentalist
she believed in intuitiveness being the key to fundamental truths. The following except
from "I never saw a Moor-" shows this: "I never saw a Moor-/ I never saw the sea-/ but I
know how the Heather looks/ And what a Billow be." Even though Emily Dickinson was
not a transcendentalist like Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson, they were
hints of some transcendentalist beliefs in her work.
In terms of being "spiritual disciples" of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David
Thoreau was and Emily Dickinson wasn't really, although she had some of aspects of
their belief in her work. Emerson and Thoreau believed in a spiritual link between nature
and humanity, self-reliance, non-conformity, intuitiveness being the key to fundamental
truths, and belief in an Over-Soul. Emily Dickinson did not believe in the link between
humanity and nature or belief in the Over-Soul, but she believed in non-conformity, self
reliance, and intuition being a key to fundamental beliefs, which lead to the conclusion
that Dickinson was not a disciple of Emerson, while Thoreau was.
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