Comparison of Emerson's and Thoreau's Concept of Transdescentalism

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Transcendentalists believed that nature was essential for people to discover their identity. Two important influencers who created works to support this movement were Ralph Waldo Emerson and David Henry Thoreau. The two authors, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, expressed a similar appreciation for the beauty of nature and focused on strengthening their ideology of individualism.

In “Nature”, Emerson spends his time out in the natural world, discovering how elegant it is and the peace of mind it creates. Through his experience of living without the distractions of a metropolitan area or suburban neighborhood, he understands that nature “was made transparent... to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime” (197). This connection Emerson makes with Mother Nature is significant because it elucidates that the earth’s wilderness has a unique presence which creates an everlasting, awe-inspiring feeling in individuals. Spending time outdoors helps to appreciate the things that aren’t acknowledged enough, such as the stars illuminating the sky at night, the flowers blooming during spring, and the wild animals and insects roaming around freely. Additionally, Emerson asserts, “The lover of nature is he... who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood” (198). This shows that to be one with nature, it is essential to act child-like with simple thoughts, an imaginative mind, and a playful attitude. A complex, worrying mentality should not be brought outdoors since the green earth is easier to embrace with an open mind; it also will help establish tranquility and detach from materialistic items that can become addictive in life. Overall, Emerson’s message signifies how retreating from the busy world and spending time with nature is key to unearthing its immense grandeur.

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In Walden, Thoreau similarly develops an admiration for nature because of its simplicity and non-routine schedule. To illustrate, Thoreau argues, “as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness” (224). This exhibits a compelling message that minimizing life to the bare minimum, like while outdoors with nature, will make life seem not so harsh. If people were to only strive for the necessities in life and refrain from purchasing unnecessary goods, they would be much more content and satisfied with the world around them. Furthermore, Thoreau remarks, “How worn and dusty, then, must be the highways of the world, how deep the ruts of tradition and conformity” (224). A rhetorical analysis of "Where I Lived And What I Lived For" sheds further light on Thoreau's deep connection to nature and its impact on his worldview.

Humans across the globe become accustomed to a daily procedure that is shaped by society, and the unwillingness to break this pattern leads to depression and exhaustion. However, in the natural world, away from the general population, a routine is not followed nor is conformity required; the only thing to adhere to is yourself and the environment surrounding you. In summary, Thoreau, like Emerson, has a strong embrace for nature as he believes it has a crucial effect on how people interpret the world.

In “Self-Reliance”, Emerson suggests dissecting life by disengaging with society and becoming more in sync with one’s self. The community around us is always going to judge, so it is wise to ignore “the sour faces of the multitude... put on and off as the wind blows...” (Emerson). Trying to fulfill the wishes of people around you opens the gate towards letting others control your life. Instead, individuals should focus on pleasing themselves by maintaining an independent lifestyle without the external influence of the population, such as social media and pop culture. Moreover, Emerson underscores, “but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” ('Self-Reliance'). This conveys that most successful people prosper when they are self-reliant despite being pressured by large numbers of people to follow their commands. Most individuals would be intimidated to stray away from what others tell them because they would not want to be perceived negatively, but those with resilient minds only care about their own opinions. To summarize, Emerson has a firm stance that people should accept individualism and prioritize their beliefs regardless of what anyone else thinks.

In “Civil Disobedience”, Thoreau, resembling Emerson’s ideas, sheds light on the importance of individualism in the American government and the reasons why people should get away from political authority. As proof, Thoreau expounds, “If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man” (231). This communicates that people must uphold their moral principles or else they will struggle throughout life. Because the government cannot satisfy every individual’s set of beliefs, the nation has only a general set of laws for citizens to follow; nonetheless, this system is flawed because not everyone is represented equally. Also, Thoreau mentions, “The authority of the government... can have no pure right over my person and property but what I concede to it” (233). The government has no right to force people into their agenda since everybody has individual liberties. Avoiding the national regime is the best choice to make so that you can rely on your thoughts and ideas. All in all, Thoreau concludes, just as Emerson did, that it is essential to honor independent rights, even under the influence of a superior legislature. To conclude, Emerson and Thoreau both demonstrated gratitude towards the allure of nature and were pioneers of individualism. Each believed that getting away from the regular world, avoiding public opinion, and uniting with nature would strengthen individualism, helping to distinguish one's identity.

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