A world-renowned American poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson delineates himself in his writings so flawlessly that the readers of his works have no choice but to acknowledge his various characteristics. Many of Emerson’s works ignite a sense of interest about his early influences in life, his political and social origins that predisposed his views, and the innumerable events that led Emerson to be who he was up until the day that he passed. Emerson was a central figure in the ideal of transcendentalism in the 19th century. Emerson’s first book, Nature (1836), focuses on the idea that everything in the world, no matter its size or power, is all encapsulated into something much larger. This theory allowed transcendentalists to ignore the higher powers and instead focus solely on his motto “trust thyself.” Emerson’s challenge against the origins of people’s thoughts led him to not only become a primary spokesman for Transcendentalism, but also to create a more powerful fight against scientific philosophies.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was, from a younger age, deeply involved in spirituality as a preacher. In Essays, First Law, Spiritual Laws (1841), Emerson stated, “When the act of reflection takes place in the mind, when we look at ourselves in the light of thought, we discover that our life is embosomed in beauty” (Emerson). In this writing, Emerson intensely focused on the belief that human beings could look beyond the physical world and dig into a spiritual feeling. He proposed this writing as a more detailed idea of transcendentalism in order to express his beliefs on the matter at hand.
Emerson’s religion played a huge role, not only in the outline of his works but in the totality of his life as well. Two of his most major addresses, The Divinity School Address and The American Scholar (1837), were based on the ideal of divinity of man, or the theological discourse that acknowledges the nature of man and Christ. Emerson’s belief in God allowed him to easily put Christianity into his works in order to maximize its influence on his readers. This, like many others, was a major key of his success in both his personal and professional life. Emerson’s travels, to Europe specifically, gave him a chance to meet influential literary figures such as Thomas Carlyle. Many of his works, such as Nature (1836) and Essays, were merely a result of Carlyle’s influences on him. Carlyle gave him experience on his own hatred for democracy and hypocrisy as well as his belief that every individual has power. These lessons that stemmed from his friendship with Carlyle led Emerson into articulating his own philosophies. Ralph Waldo Emerson was a lifelong optimist who focused primarily on philosophy, religion, and literature. His role derived from a long line of ministers made him one of the most powerful influencers in the history of the United States. Emerson was driven to become a leader from various events, massive influences, and his early year beliefs.
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