Joyce Carol Oates and Ralph Waldo Emerson

Categories: Joyce Carol Oates

In class out of the three essays we read I choose to do a compare-contrast between Ralph Waldo Emerson’s and Joyce Carol Oates’s essays. I choose these two because they both had different feels towards nature. Oates is against nature and Emerson is about becoming one with nature. Even though both have different meaning, both Oates and Emerson successfully uses rhetorical strategies such as appeal to credibility, emotion, and logic to support their claims on nature. In Emerson’s “From Nature” he uses credibility when he refers to god.

He states that “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing…I am part or particle of God”. Emerson is basically saying that he is one with nature. He is persuading the reader to think this. Emerson relates to his audience through the feelings that nature by its self can inspire. In Oates “Against Nature” she uses credibility at the very beginning of her essay by stating, “I was lying on my back in the dirt…staring up at the sky…”

By this statement you get an image in your head of what’s occurring.

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Oates uses credibility again in her essay when referring to “Edmund of King Lear”. In both of their essays, Emerson and Oates effectively use credibility to support their claims. In Oates essay she uses emotion when mentioning something quite gruesome. She states “…the raccoon…tearing at his own belly with his teeth, so that his intestines spill out…” Another example is when she mentions that she has “paroxysmal tachycardia” and that it just so happens to be “fatal”.

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You cannot help but to feel bad for her. Is this the reason she doesn’t enjoy nature since her condition can attack so unexpectedly? In Emerson’s essay he uses emotion when states that “but none…owns the landscape”. He is saying that anyone can enjoy nature. Next he says that "In the woods, is perpetual youth".

This is emotion because Emerson mentions childhood, and this is something that people remember. He has felt that he has been changed by nature, and that you should to. Both essays use logic in order to support their position on nature. Oates uses logic in her essay when stating the dangers of her medical condition. She mentions why it’s “fatal” by reason, and that the most important thing you can do with tachycardia is that “you must prevent panic”. She with this statement also includes statistics on the amounts of heartbeats it takes for the condition to be fatal. Another example is when Oates refers poems of writers such as “Flowers and Fruit” by Colette and “Taking the Side of Things” by Ponge. Now in Emerson’s he uses the appeal of logic when he convinces his reader that “we have no questions…are unanswerable”.

This statement is reasoning that nature will answer all questions. He proves that nature is greater than man, and that it deserves respect. To conclude, both Oates and Emerson effectively use the appeals of credibility, emotion, and logic to support their position when it comes to nature. They both are complete opposites when it comes to nature. Emerson feels that nature is not only beautiful, but that it holds something different for everyone. Oates on the opposing side dismisses nature and all its glory. Oates has her view against nature and Emerson’s essay is successful in uncovering truths about nature and man’s role in nature.

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Joyce Carol Oates and Ralph Waldo Emerson. (2016, Mar 24). Retrieved from

Joyce Carol Oates and Ralph Waldo Emerson
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