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Transcendentalism Essay Topics & Paper Examples

Transcendentalism in Mumford and Sons

The era of transcendentalism is filled with a new way of thinking. A way that provokes a man’s inner thoughts and encourages them to be set free, and expressed to those around him. A step further from the previous movement of Romanticism, Transcendentalist writers expresses this sense of individuality in their works, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, as well as many more. Emerson’s literature lives to inspire individuals to transcend- to rise above, to pass beyond limits. Though there is no direct relation between Marcus Mumford, writer of the song “Sigh No More”, and Emerson, the song clearly reflects this, a common thought of transcendentalist thinkers. A good portion of what Transcendentalist thinkers were trying to get across is that you…

Transcendentalism in Emersons Writing

I chose the reading by Emerson; I believe there is a lot of transcendentalism in this reading. Well I don’t believe there is a lot of transcendentalism, starting with the first paragraph first sentence where he writes, “Our Age is retrospective. It builds the sepulchers of the fathers. It writes biographies, histories, and criticism. The foregoing generations beheld God and nature face to face; we, through their eyes.  He writes in confidence about his beliefs and how he feels about, basically, not “beholding” God and facing nature face to face. To me it seems like he is very interested in the Gods and Nature and is almost a little jealous that he didn’t witness the Gods era. He writes “To…

Peaceful Resistance: a Transcendental Response to Abolitionism

The ideals of Transcendentalism lent themselves to be ripe with social change. Transcendentalists believed the soul transcended form, shape, and color and stressed that on the inside, human beings are not simply male and female or black and white. To the transcendentalist, the soul was an androgynous, colorless entity. They believed truth is beyond the realms of human senses, but that man possesses the ability to find God through self-realization. Transcendentalists also held the belief that tradition should not dictate the feelings, spirituality, or actions of the individual. The Transcendentalist movement and writings inspired generations of Americans to think outside the norms of society, by balking against inhumane, unjust laws and fighting for the innate goodness they believed all human…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Although Transcendentalism as a historical movement was limited in time from the mid 1830s to the late 1840s and in space to eastern Massachusetts, its ripples continue to spread through American culture. Beginning as a quarrel within the Unitarian church, Transcendentalism’s questioning of established cultural forms, its urge to reintegrate spirit and matter, its desire to turn ideas into concrete action developed a momentum of its own, spreading from the spheres of religion and education to literature, philosophy, and social reform. While Transcendentalism’s ambivalence about any communal effort that would compromise individual integrity prevented it from creating lasting institutions, it helped set the terms for being an intellectual in America. It is easier to note its pervasive influence, though, than…

Out from Behind This Mask Review

•Synopsis In Whitman’s poem Out From Behind This Mask, the poem starts out by talking about the passion and excitement that to many, lies just out of reach. Whitman is trying to illustrate how this ecstasy is much closer than once thought, by comparing the barrier as a curtain or a mask. The wonders that lie beyond this mask range from “passionate teeming plays” to “the glaze of God’s serenest, purest sky. ” To Whitman, the possibilities are endless. In the first line, “Out from behind this bending, rough-cut mask”, Walt Whitman establishes that this poem has a personalized message for each reader with the “rough-cut mask” symbolizing everyone’s outside appearance (or face). The third and fourth lines establish the…

Search for Spiritual Life

In Walden; or, Life in the Woods Henry David Thoreau presents his transcendental beliefs. His experiment of living in the woods and away from society was a way to test out his beliefs. Thoreau believed that by freeing himself from social restrictions, he could eventually gain spiritual relief. Similar to transcendentalism is the hippie’s view of life. They too also believed in a simpler way of living and wished to gain spiritual knowledge of nature and the world as a whole. Thoreau portrayed an alternative state of consciousness throughout the passages displayed in Walden. He continuously changed his narration from a literal view to a higher spiritual perspective. For instance, in “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”, Thoreau…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Herman Melville and Henry David Thoreau present their writing pieces as different forms of nonconformity. The essays both represent Ralph Emerson’s essay, Self-Reliance, but they do so in different ways. In Thoreau’s essay, Solitude, the narrator has removed himself from society and into solitude in a cabin in the deep woods. The narrator displays nonconformity by not taking on the normal daily routines and an average person in society. The nonconformity exhibited in Bartleby, the Scrivener is Bartleby not conforming at the same level of his co-workers in the law office. The law office in Bartleby’s eyes is stark place that only brings him displeasure. The transcendentalist essay by Ralph Emerson, Self-Reliance, is composed of many simple transcendentalist ideas. Solitude…

English-language films

Comprehensive and Intrepretive questions 1.Transcendentalist means The quality or state of being transcendental. It means to when someone finds themself through nature and being in solitude. 2.One of the most used quotations in the night thoreau spent in jail is “Retirement? What an absurd idea! Why spend the best part of your life earning money so that you can enjoy a questionable liberty during the least valuable part of it? Why work like a dog so you can pant for a moment or two before you die?. I chose this as my number one because of its great meaning. Why work during the prime of your life just so you can spend it doing nothing? This quote’s meaning is very…

Into the Wild Trans

Transcendentalism is a long word to describe very free-minded people. Throughout the novel “Into the Wild” Chris McCandless, the main character, ventures off into the wild to experience nature at a personal level. Chris comes from a household in which personal relationships, between him and his parents, were not present. While living in this environment, Chris never really felt as if he belonged. It did not take too long before Chris had packed up his bags with nothing but a rifle, rice, and a roadmap and was off into the wilderness. The actions and thoughts in which Chris had experienced resembled those of a transcendentalist thinker. The most distinct three transcendentalists in whom he coincided with include: Whitman, Thoreau, and…

Romantic & Transcendental Synthesis Essay

During the 19th century a literary revolution occurred involving new never before seen styles and ideas. Before this time most written works spoke purely of God and what was in the bible. These pieces spoke of the mercy in God as well as the wrath he could inflict. In those times it was sin to fabricate fictitious stories for entertainment, if there were to be a story it had to have happened. However in the 19th century, things changed. A style of writing known as romanticism came about and discussed the afterlife, the supernatural, the “other” side, which hadn’t been in writing much before. Romantic writing intended to put not fear, but reality into the reader’s minds. This is the…

My Favorite Place in Nature: the Beach

Henry David Thoreau once said, “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright.” Like all transcendentalists, Thoreau believed that all of life’s questions could be answered through nature. Nature consists of many beautiful things – trees, flowers, butterflies, animals, sunsets, etc. Personally, out of all these extraordinary natural elements of the world, the beach, especially during sunset, is my favorite place in nature. Giving me mixed feelings when there, the beach at sunset is my most favorite place in nature because of its beautiful colors, peaceful and relaxing mood, and as it reminds me of what I am thankful for in life. Firstly, the colors from the…

The Scarlet Letter – Elements of Dark Romanticism

The novel, The Scarlet letter, can be described as both a psychological romance as well as a historical novel. This story takes place on a puritan settlement in 17th century Boston. At this time, Puritans believed in living by the bible and that God drew the soul of man to salvation. They also viewed nature as “evil” or “corrupt”. On the contrary, Transcendentalist/Romantics rejected Puritan religious attitudes and admired nature. They also believed in a higher knowledge than that achieved by human reason as well as saw a direct connection between the universe and mankind. For those reasons, I believe The Scarlet Letter is a perfect example of the Dark Romanticism/Transcendentalism genre. These characteristics are shown throughout the novel in…

Indian Thought in Emerson Thoreau and Whitman

VEDANTA philosophy was one of several thought currents from abroad that reached New England in the early decades of the 19th century and contributed to the thinking of Emerson and Thoreau. Emerson’s interest in the sacred writings of the East probably began: . ring his Harvard days and continued throughout his life. He knew Laws of Manu, Vishnupurana, the Bhagvad- Gita, and Katha Upanishad: There are numerous references to these scriptures in his Journals and Essays. Thoreau, too, was introduced to Oriental writing while still at Harvard. His initial contact was with an essay on Oriental poetry by Sir William Jones; in 1841, at the age of 24, he began an intensive study of Hindu religious books. In the January…

You Only Live Once

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough,” –Mae West. The Transcendentalist time period relates mostly to the philosophy, “Live life to the fullest. ” Transcendentalists’ believe in self-reliance, individualism, and inner spiritual beliefs, just like any person who wants to live their life to the fullest. Every person should enjoy every moment of their lives by appreciating everything in order to follow their dreams and to live their lives to the fullest. The most important step to living life to the fullest is enjoying every moment. Nobody knows when their last day on Earth might be, or the ones they love, so enjoying life while it lasts is the best way to live. Do…

Emily Dickinson

American poet “The Belle of Amherst”, Emily Dickinson wrote hundreds of poems. Few were actually published while she was alive. Dickinson is one of the most widely read and well known American poets. While she doesn’t exactly fall into the category of the Transcendentalists or Anti-Transcendentalists, she was well regarded by Emerson and she read his work thoughtfully. Even though Dickinson brought harsh emotions into her works, I believe she fits better into the Transcendentalists group rather then Anti Transcendentalists. Not only did she believe in Puritanism which allowed her to remain grounded in her faith of God, Transcendentalism permitted her to release herself from judgment and to view herself as an individual with her own passions and thoughts. Transcendentalism…

Henry David Thoreau: Transcendentalist

Henry David Thoreau spent much time studying nature and applying those studies to the human condition. His Transcendentalist ideas shone through in his writings and his life. In “Economy” he asks, “Why has man rooted himself thus firmly in the earth, but that he may rise in the same proportion into the heavens above” (Thoreau 58). He asks this question in response to man’s ever increasing need to have more than the basic necessities of life. In other words, if we have warmth, food, water, and clothing what purpose does added luxury serve. Thoreau reinforces this later when he writes, “When I have met an immigrant tottering under a bundle which contained his all – looking like an enormous wen…

Analysis of whether or not Transcendentalism is relevant to modern-day society

Some aspects of Transcendentalism can be applied in today’s society, while others have lost their relevance due to the changes of social and economic conditions since the time of Thoreau. The Transcendentalists’ goal was to create a Utopia in America. They believed in a society without rules in which you would be free to do whatever you wanted as long as it did not infringe on the freedom or well-being of others. The concept of what is a Utopia is different for every person. In today’s densely populated countries it appears almost impossible to do anything that does not affect or infringe upon someone else. The Transcendentalists also believed in the Jeffersonian philosophy that each generation should only be concerned…

Transcendentalism: What it is? Examples of it; Critics against it; Position on it

Transcendentalism was an intellectual movement founded by Ralph Waldo Emerson. There are three cornerstones of the Transcendentalist belief which are * Human senses are limited; they convey knowledge of the physical world, but deeper truths can be grasped only through intuition. * The observation of nature illuminates the nature of human beings. * God, nature, and humanity are united in a shared universal soul. (pg. 387 under Literary Analysis) Our human senses are limited to what we have in the physical world. But the more profound truth can be obtained only by our instincts. By observing nature, we as human beings become enlighten and understand certain things. God, nature and the human race are related to one another because we…

Transcendentalism: Edgar Allan Poe and People

Transcendentalism, was a major belief of many people in America. Although it no longer remains as a belief in today’s society, in the eighteen hundreds it made quite an impression. Some of these people consisted of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, two great American authors. Transcendentalists believed that everyone was one with nature, and anything could be achieved with the right mindset. Many of these beliefs are still taught to the youth of today. Now, although many people had good over views on the transcendental beliefs, just like every good thing, there were those who opposed it. These people, the anti-transcendentalists, had beliefs that were the exact opposite of those of the Transcendentalists. These people believed that there…

The Relationship Between Romanticism and Transcendentalism

Romanticism and Transcendentalism have a relationship that is similar of a mother to a daughter. Certain traits were passed along by the writers but each era differed in their own unique way. The Romanticists believed that certain parts of nature are beautiful, such as life, but were disgusted by others, such as death. They also believed that God may be both a good yet an evil entity. Transcendentalists took the teachings of the Romanticists to the next level. They not only worshiped nature as God but were taught by it as well. They accepted everything as a part of nature (both life and death) and thus a part of life. Romanticism is an expression of the individual and of the…

Transcendentalism vs, Dark Romanticism

The nineteenth century gave readers a plethora of literary genius. Perhaps the most recognized literary movement was Transcendentalism. This literary concept was based on a group of new ideas in religion, culture, and philosophy. Transcendentalism paved the way for many subgenres, it’s most significantly opposite; however was the emergence of Dark Romanticism. The Romantics had a tendency to value emotion and intuition over reason and logic. Many of the writers of the nineteenth century placed themselves into one or the other category. In its most specific usage transcendentalism refers to a literary and philosophical movement that developed in America in the first half of the nineteenth century. It first arose among the liberal New England Congregationalists who departed from the…

American Transcendentalism

Emerson’s definition of Transcendentalism according to Meg Brulatour is that of an individual pursuit guided by intuition and self-reliance. Emerson believed that Transcendentalists found truth in nature’s ideas and that truth could be seen by a person who was paying attention and was in synch with nature. Direct involvement with nature allows man to use his intuition to experience the natural marvels before him. The idea of the “Oversoul” which Emerson and other Transcendentalists believed in connects man with all aspects of nature. This idea, explored through intuition and self-exploration, not reason or practicality brings the Transcendentalists a divine spirituality. By listening to our “inner voice” or using our intuition, we can move closer to divinity. The Transcendentalists believed that…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Transcendentalism is the power to be an individual. Thoreau once said “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. ” In this he meant that the individual didn’t need superfluities in order to happy or be one’s true self. In today’s society, this philosophy is not evident. When looking to the world around him, the individual constantly has things thrust at him telling him what he has to believe in to be liked, and what he has to look like to be accepted, and what he “needs” to be “happy”. What the individual truly needs is the ability to be an individual, the…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Transcendentalism is an idea that focuses on the good things in life. A main element in Transcendentalism is nature. Nature is the most important thing in the world because it is what the world is made up of. Everything Transcendentalists believe in is based on things found in nature. Anything unnatural, or man-made, is considered ruined by man. Another big focus in Transcendentalism is God. God ties into nature because He created everything in it. Another key part of Transcendentalism is stressing to people that they should be themselves. People are too caught up in being like everyone else. Transcendentalism makes a point to change that way of thinking. Transcendentalists do not care about writing about facts and things based…

Transcendentalism took root in America

In the early to mid-nineteenth century, a philosophical movement known as Transcendentalism took root in America and evolved into a predominantly literary expression. The adherents to Transcendentalism believed that knowledge could be arrived at not just through the senses, but through intuition and contemplation of the internal spirit. As such, they professed skepticism of all established religions, believing that Divinity resided in the individual, and the mediation of a church was cumbersome to achieving enlightenment. The genesis of the movement can be accurately traced to 1836 and the first gathering of the Transcendental Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The father of the movement, an appellation he probably did not relish, was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other prominent contributors included Henry David Thoreau,…

Transcendentalism was a cult or so to say, a rejection of God

Transcendentalism was a spiritual, philosophical, literary movement that took place in the Boston area between the 1830s and late 1840s (Buchanan 1). The main idea was that the “soul of the individual is identical to the soul of the world and that it contains what the world contains,” and that the mind can apprehend absolute spiritual truths directly without having to detour through authorities and senses. This idea revolved around idealism, which is defined as “any theory positing the primacy of spirit, mind, or language over matter” (Campbell 2-3). Some have stated that Transcendentalism was a cult or so to say, a rejection of God. In reality, the movement was a preference to explain an individual and the world in…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Note: Nineteenth Century American Transcendentalism is not a religion (in the traditional sense of the word); it is a pragmatic philosophy, a state of mind, and a form of spirituality. It is not a religion because it does not adhere to the three concepts common in major religions: a. a belief in a God; b. a belief in an afterlife (dualism); and c. a belief that this life has consequences on the next (if you’re good in this life, you go to heaven in the next, etc. ). Transcendentalism is monist; it does not reject an afterlife, but its emphasis is on this life. The Assumed, Presumed, or the Self-Identified Transcendentalists: Central Points of Agreement: NOTE: The Transcendentalists, in keeping…

Grapes of Wrath Theme

The main theme of The Grapes of Wrath is the idea that all men are part of the family of man. This is closely related to the philosophical movement of transcendentalism, what the author Ralph Waldo Emerson followed. There are four main points of the story that express this in the story; the ex-preacher’s search for purpose, Ma Joad’s understanding of working together, Pa turning from making money for himself to providing for the group and finally Tom’s decision to leave the family. First the preacher, Casy, displays the point that transcendentalists think we all need to find out our purpose in life. When he is first introduced, he can be recognized as the old preacher, but we soon find…

Transcendentalism and the Hunger Games

Transcendentalism is a lifestyle in which one strives to rise above and reach a level of perfection. Transcendentalists believe in self-reliance, non-conformity, individualism, simplicity, the greatness of nature, and God being within oneself. Transcendentalism is often represented in modern day pop-culture; a strong example of this is The Hunger Games. The book depicts the life of Katniss Everdeen, a character who possesses many transcendental qualities. The Hunger Games displays many transcendental values and shows that living a transcendental life is positive and will improve one’s quality of life. Nature is a major transcendental value which both Emerson and Thoreau thrive off of. Emerson said in “Nature”, “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson, who led the transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century, once wrote, “The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. ” The Transcendentalist were a group of people who believed that everyone was equal and had power inside them as an individual. In the mid-19th century Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman were the main writers and thinkers of the transcendentalist movement. In the 1960’s as African American’s fought for civil rights in a cruel society. William Melvin Kelly combines the two in the book “A Different Drummer. ” This book tells the story of Tucker Caliban, a black farmer who encourages a huge amount of blacks to leave the south when he decides…