Trancendentalism Essay, Research Paper
Transcendentalism is a newly founded belief and practice that involves man’s interaction with nature, and the idea that man belongs to one universal and benign omnipresence know as the oversoul. The term was first introduced by German philosopher Immanuel Kant, and was published in his “Critique of Practical Reasoning”. The impressions of transcendentalism by the American people were sketchy and obscure, but as magazines and books were published on the topic the coterie of transcendentalist spread. The authors of the nineteenth century books, essays, and philosophies were a reflection of these beliefs such authors were Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and William Cullen Bryant.
Thoreau was the most explicit and greatest influential transcendentalist writer of the time period. Inspired by the exploration and writing about spiritual relationships between humanity and nature, and the ideas of his good friend Ralph Emerson, he experimented with this new found idea. On July fourth he left on an experience to Walden Pond. He spent two years watching, writing, and feeling the power of nature. The only way Thoreau could encounter a relationship with nature was to become one with the way of the woods, streams, ponds, and animals. Thoreau was also indicative of Emerson’s success as a transcendental writer, because they lived together in the same house and shared similar ideas and beliefs. Along with the influence of Thoreau, Emerson was further affected by the writings of William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge in their book Lyrical Ballads. Emerson’s poems reflect the images of the oversoul and harmony of man and nature. Unlike the previous poets, William Cullen Bryant was his own creator. Born in a rural area, Bryant had a deep interest in nature and loved to explore his surroundings. He began writing poetry at age nine, and later periodically read eighteenth century poetry, which is present in his poems because of their European style. Bryant additionally expressed an appeal to nineteenth century poets, moreover he believed in women’s rights, freedom of speech and religion, and the abolition of slavery, which gave him a voice in important subjects that needed change.
In addition to their impact on views of the world these authors prompted a different outlook on nature for many other writers. Bryant influenced the establishment of Romanticism in American Literature and shaped the next generation of poets to be. Emerson gave the “free birds” of our society a new method of thinking, which partially inspired the “hippie” movement. Thoreau gave writers, social and political readers, and environmentalists a new way to conceive thoughts or ideas that may come to them. Thoreau made the future generations of readers observant of the possibilities of the human spirit and the limitations of society.
Through what these and more writers have left us the American people have learned to see nature through a kaleidoscope of precious beings and bring unity among all. The oversoul is not only a belief but is a reality for many that choose to be panthioistic. To all that bring the world hate, war, crime, and disgrace when has the choice of nature over rancor resolved to nothing but death and violence. When great writers such as Thoreau, Bryant, and Emerson grace the earth, leaving nothing but the best for us to reveal.