Transcendentalism Essay, Research Paper
Henry David Thoreau, one of the biggest Transcendentalists of his time, was very outspoken on the idea of conformity. He believed and advocated the idea that people should not be involved with government, transportation, or activities that might give the possibility for people to conform. His ideas were based on the fact that if you conformed you were not able to experience life because you were experiencing life, as somebody else wanted you too.
The government was one of the big things that Thoreau thought led to conformity. He believed basically that government was a big waste to the American society for one reason. They hindered our thoughts, actions, beliefs, and basically tried to tell us what was right and what was wrong. This was totally against Thoreau’s beliefs. He wanted the society to learn and experience things for them and not let the government control our every move. This maybe why he didn’t like organized education because he thought that the government was already controlling our lives, and that this was just another way for the government to weasel it’s way into our lives.
He also didn’t like the idea of transportation. Now some may think that this is being awfully picky on Thoreau’s part, but I can see where he is coming from. For example, American’s are becoming lazier by the moment and once a child has hit the age of 14 or 15 years of age they quit doing exercise activities such as: walking, running, and riding a bike. The government set the laws for the driving age, and when you go by the rules and start driving, Thoreau is saying that you are conforming to what the government wants. In other words, you aren’t making decisions for yourself, or your decision is based off what the government thinks is right.
Marriage also had some of its drawbacks according to Thoreau. Marriage is easily seen as conformity. For example, back in the era of the baby boomers the belief was that the average American family should consist of a mom, dad, two kids, and a white picket fence. This already shows conformity because you could possibly be marrying just to be considered the average person. It could also be considered conforming because all over America are getting married. Some believe that when you get married, it shows a sign of stableness; so therefore, you would be conforming to society’s beliefs once again.
There are people out there that would like to be like Thoreau and isolate themselves from the “money madness”. This type of lifestyle could be seen appealing to many for a few reasons like: on their own, see what kind of person they are, no hassles of the busy life, and most of all they could be who they wanted to be not what people thought they should be.
Henry David Thoreau believed in being your own person and not conforming to somebody else’s life style or the government’s life style. He believed in it so much that he isolated himself for 26 months that allowed him to be the person he wanted to be.