Discuss how the essays "Self Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and "Resistance to Civil Government" are examples of Transcendentalism. Student enter the Name and Code Number University or College Name of Professor 13th December, 2011. Part. 1: Introduction Transcendentalism was developed in the 1830s and 1840s in New England…
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Everyone has their own way to perceive things and this is what transcendentalism is all about. When one looks deep into himself to find out meanings and reasons of things he connects himself to God. This helped in strengthening the belief that God was present. According to Quinn and Edward (2006), when one gets to know about himself and finds God then he feels the existence of a “microcosmic” world. According to Emerson (1995, p. 20-30), nature is an “organ” through which God speaks to an individual. He regarded God as “universal spirit” in his writings. One is born with religion, culture, laws, rules and society. One has to follow the rules and regulations set up by them. When one is born as an individual, he should have the freedom to think deeply and to connect with his inner self. He should be able to find meanings himself. He should find his God himself and live life accordingly. This is what Transcendentalism is all about; to know oneself. It is not something chaotic or going against the government or laws but it is just about exploration of one’s own self. “Self Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson and "Resistance to Civil Government” by Henry David Thoreau is perfect examples of it. Part. 2: Emerson and Thoreau: transcendentalism Emerson was a great written, philosopher, poet and lecturer and was born in May 25, 1803. Oakes and Elizabeth (2004), write about Emerson as someone who believed in “individuality”. Emerson saw imagination and human thinking in a very different way. He said that the thinking, imagination and perceptions of human beings are made by nature, which according to him is an organ that is used by spiritual entity to speak with humans. He focused on discovering one’s own self. Henry David Thoreau was a great philosopher and was student of Emerson. They both shared a great thinking and are the most prominent names when it comes to transcendentalism. It is said that the person who knows himself is the one who knows the real meaning and reason of his existence. People are too busy in everyday lives that they do not focus on their own self; they do not have time to communicate with their own soul and that results in lack of self awareness and distance from godliness. 2.1: Individualistic approach The essays "Self Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and "Resistance to Civil Government" by Henry David Thoreau are examples of Transcendentalism as they convey the “individualistic” approach in them. Both Emerson and Thoreau discuss in their respective essays that one has to have knowledge of himself and connect himself to nature instead of relying on experiences. According to Emerson (1967, pp. 20-30), a person should have full right over his decisions, his behaviors should not be shaped by the rules made by societies and government and he should be a free man. In the essay “Self Reliance”, Emerson has written according to the most important principle of Transcendentalism which is to be free from rules and obligations and live life as an individual. In the essay “Resistance to Civil Government”, Thoreau discussed individualism in detail and in its real spirit. As Thoreau (2009, p.4) said that humans should be “men first, and subjects afterwards”. His writing compels one to think as an individual who is free from boundaries and rules. A man has to think as an individual first, discover himself and think about what he thinks is right and wrong by getting to know about himself
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“How the Essays Self Reliance by Emerson, and Resistance to Civil Research Paper”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/english/1439552-romanticism-and-transcendentalism.
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