Ralph Waldo Emerson and his Role in Transcendentalism
Whenever one talks about the emergence and influence of American Transcendentalism, Ralph Waldo Emerson and his friend, Henry David Thoreau is sure to be discussed. Emerson made waves for his speech on cultural independence, and later on self-reliance, where he proudly declared that to be great was to be misunderstood. He is, in fact, one of the most influential figures of the movement, and inspired numerous writers and authors to embark on the same journey as his. None, however, has managed to come close.
However, to fully understand Transcendentalism is to delve into its roots. In the simplest of words, it is defined as a cultural, literary, philosophical and political movement, which caught fire in the early nineteenth century. While mainly centred on Emerson himself, the movement, it is also known for the works of Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Amos Alcott and others as well.
The idea behind transcendentalism was simple: they were critics of the modern society, scorning upon the fact that the people were too lazy and unwilling to leave the shadows of conformity and step into the world of exploration and imagination. Authenticity and novelty, in fact, were two of the key principles of the movement. They encourage people to stop depending on others and start looking inside themselves in turn. Emerson, in fact, persuaded each person to find his or her ‘unique’ connection with the univer…
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