Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Transcendentalism Pages: 4 (1362 words) Published: February 5, 2013
Comparison and Contrast
Transcendentalism was a literary movement in the first half of the 19th century. The philosophical theory contained such aspects as self-examination, the celebration of individualism, and the belief that the fundamental truths existed outside of human experience. Fulfillment of this search for a higher state of being came when one gained an acute awareness of the world and the truths it holds. To do this you must achieve an understanding of nature to reach an elevated state of spiritual existence. The two most prominent authorities on the philosophy are Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Father of Transcendentalism”, and Henry David Thoreau. “Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”( Anis Nin). Just as Anis Nin another Transcendentalist describes the ability for dreams to pass into reality. Emerson’s ideas embody the dreams of this quotation having enormous potential to change the world. But it is Thoreau who puts these ideas of Emerson’s into reality with his own perception of how the world should be perceived. By comparing Emerson’s “Nature” and “Self Reliance” and Thoreau’s “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience”, we can see the ideals of this philosophical movement in history and how one could not exist without the other.

Emerson and Thoreau both embody the Transcendentalist belief that by attaining an acute awareness of the world through the observation of a nature you can achieve a higher spiritual state of being. “The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are always inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence” (Nature 206). Emerson expresses in is essay Nature that an individual can discern the beauty of everyday life if the individual opens their mind. Emerson shows the Transcendentalist characteristic that by simply observing nature you are able to...
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