19 February 2013
AP American Lit.
Transcendentalism is a very important movement that occurred not only in literature but in life as well. The transcendentalist movement was a movement that was basically the thought of everyone having an over-soul. The over-soul is the thought of a relationship between God, nature, and man. The movement had many different characteristics like individuality, feelings being priority over reason, the fact that nature was divine, and that nature held truths. Transcendentalists used the truths that they observed in the world and in nature to change the way society was and how people see themselves in the world. Although the idea of a utopia was not successful, the movement sparked a change in literature. Emerson and Thoreau are the two people most associated with transcendentalism. They both wrote essays about their experiences in nature and influenced many other writers to do the same (hence the transcendentalist movement). The transcendentalist thought is especially apparent in Walt Whitman and Emily Dickenson’s work. Whitman and Dickenson both show many traits of the movement, but the most apparent trait is individualism. Individualism is often portrayed in Emerson and Thoreau’s work as being equal. Everyone has a soul, inner truth is the only thing that matters, and fulfillment comes from knowing one’s self. In Emerson’s essay Nature, he describes man as being universal and related. In the quote “ . . . that great nature in which we rest . . . that Unity, that Over-Soul, within which every man's particular being is contained and made one with all other. . . . We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE.” Emerson is saying that all men have souls and that each soul is a part of an even bigger soul, the universal soul. This is...
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