Ralph Waldo Emerson vs. Walt Whitman

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass Pages: 2 (736 words) Published: September 29, 2010
In their respective fields, both Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson were considered to be quintessential American writers. Their thoughts and statements regarding nonconformity and individuality were revolutionizing for the era that they lived. Thanks to them,similar thoughts and statements, are now much more mainstream and unexceptional.Although they used different tactics to get their points across, their shared opinions become evident.

Both Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson believed strongly in originality and personal expression;although the different tactics that they used to get their message across were nothing short of contrasting.In Emerson’s case, he was vehemently opposed to a society that he saw to be oppressive and unimaginative. Emerson was convinced that all of modern human civilization was in collaboration to crush his uniqueness and subjugate him to a life of a faceless cog. “Society is in conspiracy against the manhood of everyone of its members.” (P. 153) Conversely, Whitman regarded the common man with much esteem and favoritism. In his epic poem, “Song of Myself” Whitman spoke of the working class with an unusual favoring and support of their ways and lifestyle. “The sun falls on the crisply hair and mustache, falls on the black of his polish’d and perfect limbs, and I behold the picturesque giant and love him.” (P.173) Whitman encouraged the reader to lead an original and unconfirmed life. He celebrated the common man and tells the reader to be happy with their life and social stature.

These ideals might seem as if completely different, but the points that they try to get across, are exactly the same. They are both stating that one should turn its back on the complex structure that is society and rather live a simple (although by no means primitive or unoriginal) life, unconstrained by conforming and strict social customs or procedures.

The tones of Emerson’s poem’s and Whitman’s essay, were quite contrasting. Emerson’s essay...
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