Emily Dickinson Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination Essay

Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination Essay, Research Paper Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination

Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination Essay, Research Paper

Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination

The early 19th century ideas of transcendentalism, which were introduced

by Ralph Emerson and David Thoreau, where man as an individual becomes

spiritually consumed with nature and himself through experience are contrasted

by Emily Dickinson, who chose to branch off this path by showing that a

transcendentalist experience could be achieved through imagination alone. These

three monumental writers set the boundaries for this new realm of thought.

Although these writers ideas were not similar, they all followed the simple idea

that ?the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul? . The male perspective

seen through the works of Thoreau and Emerson, where nature ?refers to essences

unchanged by man; the air, the river, the leaf? , is revised and satirized by

Dickinson’s statement that ?Of all the Souls that stand create-, I have elected-

One? . Dickinson’s works were meant to taunt society by showing how a woman,

ironically trapped in her ?natural? surroundings of the home, could obtain as

much power, if not more than any male writer. This ironic revisions of ideas is

directed at all male transcendentalists and figures in society.

Both Ralph Emerson and David Thoreau used societies stereotype of the

true male environment, ?nature?, to draw their power and write from their

experiences. Experience was the most important factor to these writers. The

ability ?to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account in my next

excursion? was the basis of all their writings. ?To get the whole and genuine

meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the whole world? was their goal

behind all their writings. They did not use their power of writing in order to

gain a transcendentalist experience, but rather to record them. Both Emerson

and Thoreau chose to contact their true natural surroundings, and experience

time alone in the ?woods?. By being ?in solitude?, it brought forth a

conciseness that ?all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind

is open to their influence? .

Mans views of nature being rightfully his, to do with what he wants, is

harshly contrasted by Emerson, who feels that ?Nature sais,-He is my creature? .

Emerson felt that man, corrupted by society, can over power the fate of over

looking his true meaning. Escaping from the wheel of society into ?the woods, is

perpetual youth?. By living in the woods, he found that fusing nature with soul,

one can accomplish anything.

Emerson felt that nature was an extension of five of his senses, where

he could feel the tree moving in the wind as if it was his own body. He

stressed the theme of ?having intercourse with heaven and earth?, or interlacing

your body and soul with nature. But, of all five senses, he stressed vision the

most. Beauty can only be accomplished through the gate way of the eye, which is

where most experiences are derived from. ?The eye is the best of artists? , and

has the power to display ?the simple perception of natural forms? , which is

where true beauty comes form. ?Nature satisfies the soul purely by its

loveliness? . By becoming ?a transparent eye-ball. I am nothing. I see all? .

Being self reliant on oneself, following the idea that ?Man is his own

star? , Emerson displays his transcendentalist idea that applies to anyone who

would like to follow it. The importance of flowing with nature, and excepting

what you are is stressed in Emerson’s self-reliance. By following the modo ?Ne

te qu?siveris extra? , Emerson completely committed himself to ?nature?. By

letting it become part of his soul, he used its power to enable him to transcend

into the identity of anything or anyone he would like. This idea is important

to Emerson because it transforms ?the tradesman, the attorney comes out of the

din and craft of the street, and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again?

. Looking at himself as an individual, not as a number lost in a sea of people

walking down a street, enabled Emerson to draw power to himself, where he did

not have to rely on anyone or anything. He became his own deity, his own master,

and his self owner. Emerson contained the ability ?To believe your own thought,

to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men?

, and that in itself is a philosophy which made him stand out from many, and

made him an individual.

Emerson clearly states in Nature, being in your natural surrounding, the

wilderness, is the key to happiness. But fails to recognize that not all

human’s natural surroundings are the ?woods?. Although he does admit that a

true transcendentalist ?does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony

of both? , he still focuses on a transcendentalist being in tune with nature.

Emerson feels that transcendentalism must come from experience in the wilderness,

and then through intellect.

David Thoreau also used ?nature? for an escape from the wheel of society,

where he ?went into the woods? in order ?to live deliberately?. The woods is

where the soul and nature combine to be one. Thoreau ideas were the foundations

of transcendentalism, where Emerson, and any other transcendentalist built off.

Thoreau’s works were more politically centered than of Emerson’s, but followed

the same fundamentals that Emerson held in mind.

Thoreau made his trek into the ?woods? in order to escape the machine,

and leave behind society in order to prove that one can live with simplicity,

and does not have to rely on society in order to provide his needs. Thoreau

made his escape to Walden pond, where he composed one of his works, Life in the

Woods. Through his experiences with nature, he questioned himself, ?why should

we live with such hurry and waste of life? ? The formulation of these questions

clarified his thoughts to produce his ideas on transcendentalism. One should

live there life as an individual, and not be weary the mob around him. ?Why

should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate

enterprises? ? Thoreau was much more concerned with his experiences around him.

Nature, for him, was a renewal of the soul, where he could confide in. Thoreau

was also critical of mans progress, becoming more and more machine like. ?Most

of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not

indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind? .

Simplicity was the only way Thoreau found hid way back to the true ?nature? of

man. He viewed his life as a man who ?does not keep pace with his companions,

perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer? , and no one could challenge

that or take that away from him. All of his power was drawn from ?nature?, the

nature of a true man, where he could transcend to any point and become anything

that he wanted.

In contrast to these two male writers, Emily Dickinson proved that

transcendentalism can be achieved with out the element of experience, but rather

just using imagination and the power of intellect to accomplish her goals. She

used many transcendentalist ideas in her writing, but all mostly to show the

power of intellect; a women’s intellect. Dickinson, ironically surrounded by

her societies stereotype of her natural surroundings, ?Discarded of the

Housewife? , and showed male transcendentalists that she could obtain as much

experience through her mind and writings, then as she could, actually being in

the wilderness. Through her writings, she constantly proves that yes; she is in

her natural surroundings, but the walls and ceiling of her house cannot stop the

power of the mind. Ironically being trapped in her house by her own will, she

takes all male power and influence from her life, and adds it to her own. She

renders her self genderless, because there is no need of digression from male or

female. She becomes her own ?Divine?.

The power which Dickinson writes with all comes from her body within. ?

The brain-is wider than the sky? , and Dickinson proved it through her writings.

She wrote about first hand experiences that she never had, transcendentalist

experiences, from the inside of her home. There was no Walden Pond to

experience nature, and there was no sunset to watch, all there was for her, was

the corners of the ceiling of her house. How ever, with the power of

imagination behind her, Dickinson could transcend to anywhere she wanted, and

she experienced anything she wanted. Dickinson used her writing, and ?solitude?

from society, to enable her to ?Soul selects her own Society? . ?The Brain is

just weight of God? , her own brain and her own soul, and of coarse, her own

god; ?Mine? .

Emily Dickinson split of the transcendentalist road, to form her own

branch, where the power of imagination took the place of experience. Her bold

feminine statement to society proved that the confines of ones house is not

enough to capture the power of the mind.