Transcendentalism In Thoreau Essay, Research Paper
Transcendentalism in Thoreau
Transcendentalism is any system of philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical and material. Transcendentalism is present throughout Henry David Thoreau s journal Walden. Thoreau expresses three main points of transcendentalism: simplicity, getting back to nature, and taking only what on needs.
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand. Here Thoreau explains his idea of simplicity in a manner of keeping one s affairs as small as they can not to have more than they can handle. Thoreau expresses transcendentalism through simplicity by showing that a man with a simple life can be in a way higher than a man of society with too many things to deal with. Instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail. In this quote Thoreau clarifies that a being simple is really easy, all one has to do is keep things uncomplicated and to have no more accounts than one has thumbnails.
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. This quote expresses Thoreau’s desire to return to nature to discover what it had to teach. He then wants to know if society had corrupted him enough so that he couldn t learn what nature had to teach him. Transcendentalism is present in this thought, in showing the reader that Thoreau want s to taught by nature and not man, which shows a higher ranking of man. In wanting to be taught by nature, Thoreau shows he is in touch with nature not like any other man.
Taking only what one needs is an aid to simplicity because when one only takes what he needs then there is less, and therefore simpler. Thoreau defines his idea of taking only what he needs by reducing his daily habits and his already very few material possessions. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion. This expresses his transcendental belief that by using only what he needs he frees up most of his time to do more important things.
Thoreau’s theories in Walden (simplicity, living in nature, and taking only what is needed) express a transcendentalist point of view from the author. The three theories are linked to transcendentalism in a way of being higher than that of a man of society. Without Thoreau s theories to challenge the societal mind, where would literature be today?