Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are both famous nineteenth century essayists from new England, Connecticut. They are famous for starting the transcendalist movement in the US. Throeau is best known for his book Walden where he talks about the simple life he lives in near a pond named Walden. Emerson, on the other hand, wrote the famous essay “Self Reliance.” Through Thoreau’s chapters “Economy” and “Where I lived and what I lived for” and Emersons essay “Self Reliance”, it can be seen that there are some similarities between the two essayists: they both were against materialism and instead, enjoyed nature, they both disliked society and they both had similar opinions on philanthropy.
Emerson and Thoreau both rejected materialism. While Emerson repeatedly just stated in his essay that materialism is undesirable to someone who wants to achieve freedom, Thoreau actually rejected materialism by building his own house near Walden pond where he lived for more than two years. Thoreau wanted to show people that life without materialistic possessions was possible and that a person could live with just the basics. He points “Laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal” (Walden). On the other hand, Emerson says “. He also believes that “With respect to luxuries and comforts, the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor” (19). On the other hand, Emerson believes believes that “luxuries are unnecessary and hinder our natural skills from developing to their full potential” (133). Therefore, from their essays, we can infer that they both were strongly against materialism and they believe that materialism hinders a person from achieving freedom; and in turn corrupts human beings.
Emerson and Thoreau were both transcendalists. They believe in originality and individualism. In “Self Reliance” Emerson talks about how a society makes you a conformist. It can be inferred from his essay that Emerson...
Compare And Contrast The Way In Which Emerson And Thoreau Represents American Identity
In the year of 1600’s, the United States of America was being colonized by European countries especially by England. However, on 4th of July 1776 America became independent after having drafted the “Declaration of Independence” initiated by Thomas Jefferson [History of the United States, Wikipedia]. The difference between these two time periods shows that Britain had colonized America for about 176 years which ultimately led to prosper European cultures. Although America became an independent nation, European culture was still playing its role. Therefore, American writers namely Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau presented an idea about American Identity.
Emerson in The American Scholar and Thoreau in Walden represents the idea of American identity by connecting this concept with nature and individuality but Emerson presents his idea about American identity in an intelligent manner whereas Thoreau uses mockery to present his idea.
Emerson and Thoreau both have connected the idea of nature and individuality to represent an American identity. Well, the reason for both the writers having mentioned nature and individuality is because they are transcendentalist. Ralph Waldo Emerson had first published nonfiction essay called Nature which brought about a movement called the transcendentalism (1840-1855) [American Literature Timeline, Honors American Literature]. This movement influenced many writers amongst who is Henry David Thoreau. Transcendentalism believed in individuality being affected by politics and religion. They also believed in God being reflected in nature. Emerson and Thoreau both being transcendentalist had different ways of presenting their ideas about transcendentalism with regard to American identity.
Emerson had actually delivered The American Scholar as a speech to graduates of the Phi beta Kapa Society of Cambridge in 1837. Here he states his idea about “Man Thinking” and a “Mere Thinker” to represent American Identity. American Scholar distinguishes between the two types of man by giving top priority to scholars whom he describes on the basis of nature, books, action and duties. His descriptions about these scholars are regarding their thoughts and Emerson in The American Scholar believes that nature has great influence over the mind and helps a person visualize two different images or thoughts as one.
Nature when looked at has no difference, the trees are equal, most of them are of same colors, they grow together and shed leaves together. Therefore, Emerson is defining unification of all fellow American citizens and to constrain away from European influences by implying the idea of an American identity using words such as “one” with “thoughts”.
In The American Scholar, a man who is a planter does not appreciate or gives credit to himself for the work he has done instead his instruments such as bushel and cart is all he cares about. Similarly, “the priest becomes a form; the attorney a statue book; the...
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