Emerson, Thoreau, Twain: Transcendentalist Writers
Transcendentalists are believed to go above and beyond and be independent. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau both stress that transcendentalism is all about individualism. According to Emerson, the main idea of transcendentalism is to withdraw from society: “To believe you own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men(that is genius” (185). Emerson focuses on following the heart. Similarly, Thoreau relied on civil disobedience. He wanted people to stand out and take charge: “For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: what is once well done is done forever” (193). He is saying that it takes one person to stand up and make a change in society. These morals all are portrayed in Mark Twain’s novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Emerson and Thoreau would consider Twain to be a transcendentalist writer. He implies the ways of transcendentalism through the characters in the novel. He shows how the characters represent transcendentalists’ qualities.
Transcendentalists are supposed to be their own people, meaning not caring what others think of them. Emerson says that a person should learn to trust himself and do whatever he thinks is right, not caring if it doesn’t make sense: “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind” (186). Emerson clearly states that there is nothing more important than one’s mind. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain shows Pap, the father of Huck, the main character, as someone who follows his own ways. Usually, people may think that a father would want the best for his child, but not in this novel. Twain portrays Pap to be different; different from a normal father. Pap doesn’t like the fact that Huck is interested in learning: “And looky here (you drop that school, you hear…and if I catch you about that school I’ll tan you good” (27). A father is not supposed to act like that to his...
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