Transcendentalism vs, Dark Romanticism Essay

Transcendentalism vs, Dark Romanticism Essay.

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 orthodox Calvinists, whose approach to Christian life emphasizes the rule of God over all things. (in text citation) Transcendentalism also involved the rejection of the Puritan values that were once the basis of New England culture. American Transcendentalism began with the formation of the Transcendental Club in 1836, in Boston.

Ralph Waldo Emerson lead the group of literary minds including, Margaret Fuller, a feminist and social reformer, and Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist and author. Together they and their other members published The Dial, a short-lived but influential periodical. Emerson, the father of Transcendentalism, wrote some of the major works of the movement. Self- Reliance and Nature are two of his well known. In Nature, Emerson conveys to the reader the belief that each individual must develop a personal understanding with the universe, and that there is a relationship between man and nature.

Henry David Thoreau was also a major contributor to the Transcendentalist movement, in two of Thoreau’s most influential pieces, Walden, he writes of his strong beliefs of nature’s impact on man. In Resistance to Civil Government, Thoreau writes of his issues with organized government: “That government is best which governs least, That government is best which not governs at all” His libertarian views of government’s involvement in every day life lead to his arrest in 1846 for nonpayment of poll taxes. His refusal to pay was based on his beliefs that one should not support a government that supported such atrocities as slavery.

Walden was an account of Thoreau’s time spent living in a hut in Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts; he explores such values as self reliance, and the simplicity of nature. The Transcendental movement inspired authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Alan Poe and sparked another literary movement known as Dark Romanism. Unlike Transcendentalism the Dark Romantics believed that human nature is not necessarily good, that the darker side of humanity had been being ignored by the transcendentalists. The works of the Dark romantics is filled with tales of revenge, obsession, shame and madness.

The conflicts between good and evil set a gloomy, dark mood of the tales written by the Dark Romantics. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the Scarlet Letter, a story of shame and hypocrisy, his ancestor’s Puritan values and his lack of belief in their ways lead to the creation of this piece. His main character, Hester, is labeled an adulterer and is forced to wear a scarlet “A” that symbolizes her sin of adultery. While those who see her see a symbol of shame and guilt, Hester sees it as a symbol of strength and pride, and above all, a symbol of the town’s hypocrisy.

This romantic piece of literature also has gothic elements. Hawthorne’s use of imagery and dismal tones lend it to the genre of Dark Romanticism. Other works by Hawthorne, specifically, My Kinsman, Major Molineux, are filled with dark and light imagery, from the main character, Robin’s, meeting of the ferryman to his realization that his kinsman is not the respectable man he once believed he was, this story had dark undertones that go along way in conveying the strange and secretive ways of the townsfolk that Robin meets.

Edgar Alan Poe also writes in the Dark Romantic genre, he had a great dislike for the transcendentalists calling them, “Frogpondians”, after a pond on Boston Commons, he ridiculed their writings and his piece, Never Bet the Devil in You Head, was a clear attack on the movement. Poe, who is sometimes considered a gothic writer, uses ideas such as dementia and paranoia in his works. Supernatural behaviors of characters and personification grace the pages of many of his best tales.

Many of Poe’s tales are distinguished by the author’s unique grotesque inventiveness in addition to his plot construction. Such stories as The Pit and the Pendulum is a spine-tingling tale of cruelty and torture, while the Tell -Tale Heart, is a story a maniacal murderers overbearing guilt and shame, then actual confession of his crime. The dark romantic authors embraced the concept of weltschmerz, or world pain, a phrase coined by German author Jean Paul.

Transcendentalism vs, Dark Romanticism Essay

Emerson and Thoreau Transcendentalism Beliefs Essay

Emerson and Thoreau Transcendentalism Beliefs Essay.

Both Emerson and Thoreau use the images of eyes, vision, and perception to properly demonstrate their transcendentalist beliefs. Transcendentalism is defined as the “idea that our spirits have a deep connection with nature and our ideas transcend to the natural world. ” By using the “transparent eyeball” and other uses of perception of the whole in nature in their works, both authors establish a strong belief of perception through transcendentalism within the natural world. Their works have many parallels between them regarding perception and ultimately the use of eyes.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a very important author whose ideas were adopted and adapted almost immediately after his works came to light. First, in Emerson’s piece, Nature, he introduces the audience to an idea of a transparent eyeball. He states, “Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball. I am nothing. I see all.

The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God. ” (1112).

The most influential line in this quote is “all mean egotism vanishes. ” This exemplifies the idea that it is not a personal experience in which he is undergoing; it is, in fact, a spiritual involvement with the natural world. By using the impression of an eyeball, it shows that he sees all and is part of nature as a whole. “The ruin or the blank … is in our own eye. The axis of vision is not coincident with the axis of things, and so they appear not transparent but opaque. The reason why the world lacks unity is because man is disunited with himself.

” (1133). While things in Nature should be seen as transparent, we view them as impervious, which affects our perception within. Emerson also states, “There is a property in the horizon which no man has but he whose eye can integrate all the parts, that is, the poet. ” (1112). This quote shows the importance of seeing the natural world as one. Emerson also wrote a poem called “Each and All. ” In this piece, his main theme is the idea of gratefulness in the natural world. He explains that every moment in nature is a whole.

He states, “I thought the sparrow’s note from heaven, Singing at dawn on the alder bough; I brought him home in his nest at even;—He sings the song, but it pleases not now; For I did not bring home the river and sky; He sang to my ear; they sang to my eye. ” (341). This part of the poem is momentous, because it explains that although the moment of hearing the sparrow sing is over, he has taken it in through the eye and now it is a memory as a whole. By using perception of the eye throughout his pieces, Emerson shows a vital key of knowledge in the transcendentalism ideals.

Secondly, Henry David Thoreau had a major influence on the transcendentalist belief with his work called Walden. Walden Pond was a place in which Thoreau went for two years to build his house and wrote a narrative based on his learning and understanding of himself and nature during his time spent there. The depth of the Walden Pond was about 104 feet deep and it was blue with a tint of green. This pond was unique because of its clearness of the water, and the fact that it almost looked like the iris of an eyeball. Throughout his work, Thoreau used the pond as a metaphor of his existence in nature.

By using the themes of economic, political, environmental, individualistic, and finally transcendental, Thoreau described an understanding of seeing all in nature. As he describes his surrounding, we get an idea of him becoming a “transparent eyeball. ” Because Emerson was one of the most influential and important friendships in Thoreau’s career, he was heavily impacted by the idea of the “transparent eyeball”. By continuously describing his individualistic tendencies he learns while being on Walden Pond, it is evident that he is becoming a “transparent eyeball.

” As we continue reading, Thoreau states, “I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life. ” (1920). By relating his life to the Walden Pond and its significant depth, he establishes a powerful awareness of perception in nature. His point of perception is also demonstrated by how Walden, is structured. He goes through each season making cycles for what he completes and the perception in which he completes it.

In the idea of transcendentalism, the use of eyes and perception are very important because it creates a real life clarification as to what really matters. Becoming one in nature is a major element within the transcendentalism belief, and each author who believed this obviously put an emphasis on this metaphor. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau both had important transcendentalist ideas and contributed a great deal to other authors from then on. By allowing an eyeball and other uses of perception to explain all philosophy of transcendentalism, it simplifies the bigger meaning and allows readers to understand more effectively.

Emerson and Thoreau Transcendentalism Beliefs Essay

My Favorite Place in Nature: the Beach Essay

My Favorite Place in Nature: the Beach Essay.

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 beautiful sunset and any beach are amazing and appalling. They constantly change from red or pink, to yellow, or orange or peach, even to purple as the sun sinks further and further over the horizon. In my opinion, I believe these colors are very vibrant and alive than anywhere else in this world.

After witnessing numerous sunsets at many different beaches, I can indubitably state that every sunset has its unique effect that blows my mind away.

Furthermore, the beach at sunset sets a peaceful, soothing and relaxing mood for me. The changing colors are so peaceful that they make me feel good in the inside. When staring at the sunset, I feel relaxed and care-free, forgetting all my worries and focusing just on the scene in front of my astonished eyes. The colors of the evening sky change as the sun sinks down, creating a soothing mood. My whole body just seems to feel lighter as I lay in the sand staring up in space at the beautiful and extraordinary scenery.

Finally, the beach at sunset is my favorite place in nature because it reminds me of all the things I am thankful for in life. After looking at the splendid sky with great glorification and awe, I cannot help but think about the Almighty, Creator of this bewildered sunset. This just leads me into thinking for all the things He has done for me in his majesty, and how I am forever grateful for them.

I feel appreciative for the eyes that let me take sight of this natural beauty, the heart that let me feel the warm feeling when at the beach, and the family as well as friends that I can spend great times with at the beach. For me, this is one of the best feelings in the world, as at the end of the day, it allows me to dwell on all the things I love and that I am truly grateful for.

In conclusion, if I could, I would spend every evening at the beach and watch the sunset. There is no other place in the world that forces me to feel so calm and tranquil, that I can enjoy at any time of the year. The beach, especially at sunset, is the best place for me to relax and get my mind off things that worry or disturb me, as well as be grateful for all I have in life. I completely agree with Thoreau and his optimistic attitude towards nature, as it truly answers all of my life’s questions.

My Favorite Place in Nature: the Beach Essay

Indian Thought in Emerson Thoreau and Whitman Essay

Indian Thought in Emerson Thoreau and Whitman Essay.

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 1843 issue of The Dial, Thoreau published selected passages from Laws of Manu. From a French version of the Sanskrit Harivansa, he translated a story, “The Transmigration Seven Brahmans,” and in The Dial of January 1844, he published excerpts from Buddhist scriptures under the title “The Preaching of Buddha.

” Emerson, Thoreau, and other Transcendentalists, interested in the concept of “selfhood,” found in Hindu scripture a well-elaborated doctrine of Self.

Hindu scripture tells us that the central core of one’s self (antaratman) is identifiable with the cosmic whole (Brahman). The Upanishad state: “The self within you, the resplendent, immortal person is internal self of all things and is the universal Brahman. ” Concepts similar to this cardinal doctrine of Vedanta appear in the writings of the Transcendentalists. But there are many ideological similarities among Oriental literature, the neo-Platonic doctrines, Christian mysticism, and the philosophy of the German Idealists such as Kant and Schelling.

And, since the Transcendentalists were acquainted with all of these writings, it is not always possible to identify specific influences. Nevertheless, the striking parallels between Transcendentalist writing and Oriental thought make it clear that there was a spiritual kinship. In “Plato; or, the Philosopher,” Emerson writes that “the conception of fundamental Unity” – the “ecstasy” of losing “all being in one Being” – finds its highest expression “chiefly in the Indian Scriptures, in the Vedas, the Bhagavat Geeta, and the Vishnu Purana.

” In this essay, Emerson quotes Krishna speaking to a sage:”‘You are fit to apprehend that you are not distinct from me…. That which I am, thou art, and that also is this world, with its gods and heroes and mankind. Men contemplate distinctions because they are stupefied with ignorance. ‘ ‘…. What is the great end of all, you shall now learn from me. It is soul, – one in all bodies, pervading, uniform, perfect, preeminent over nature, exempt from birth, growth and decay, omnipresent, made up of true knowledge, independent, unconnected with unrealities, with name, species and the rest, in time past, present and to come.

The knowledge that this spirit, which is essentially one, is in one’s own and in all other bodies, is the wisdom of one who knows the unity of things. ‘” In formulating his own concept of the Over-Soul, Emerson might well be quoting Krishna once again: “We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal ONE.

And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but in the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul. Only by the vision of that Wisdom can the horoscope of the ages be read…. ” Some of Emerson’s poetry resembles Vedanta literature in form as well as in content.

A striking example is the poem “Brahma. ” This is “Brahma” in its entirety: If the red slayer think he slays, Or if the lain think he is slain, They know not well the subtle ways I keep, and pass, and turn again. Far or forgot to me is near; Shadow and sunlight are the same; The vanished gods to me appear; And one to me are shame and fame. They reckon ill who leave me out; When me they fly, I am the wings; I am the doubter and the doubt, And I the hymn the Brahmin sings. The strong gods pine for my abode, And pine in vain the sacred Seven, But thou, meek lover of the good!

Find me, and turn thy back on heaven. The first stanza is essentially an adaptation of these lines from the Katha Upanishad: If the slayer think I slay, if the lain think I am slain, then both of them do not know well. If (the soul) does not slay, nor is it slain. The second and the third stanzas echo the following lines of the Gita: I am the ritual action, I am the sacrifice, I am the ancestral oblation, I am the sacred hymn, I am also the melted butter, I am the fire and I am the offering. I am immorality and also death. I am being as well as non-being.

In some respects, Henry David Thoreau was even more than Emerson attracted to Oriental thought and philosophy. For while Emerson found the Hindu doctrines of soul congenial to his own ideas about man’s relationship to the universe, Thoreau found in Hindu scriptures a way of life with which he felt a profound affinity. When Thoreau began his intensive study of Hindu scriptures, he wrote in his Journal, “I cannot read a sentence in the book of the Hindoos without being elevated upon the table-land of the Ghauts…. The impression which those sublime sentences made on me last night has awakened me before any cockcrowing….

The simple life herein described confers on us a degree of freedom even in perusal… wants so easily and gracefully satisfied that they seem like a more refined pleasure and repleteness. ” Later, in his first book he said: “Any moral philosophy is exceedingly rare. This of Manu addresses our privacy more than most. It is a more private and familiar, and at the same time a more public and universal work, than is spoken in parlour or pulpit nowadays. As our domestic fowls are said to have their original in the wild pheasant of India, so our domestic thoughts have their prototypes in the thoughts of her philosophers.

Most books belong to the house and street only, and in the fields their leaves feel very thin…. But this, as it proceeds from, so it addresses, what is deepest and most abiding in man. It belongs to the noontide of the day, the midsummer of the year, and after the snows have melted, and the waters evaporated in the spring, still its truth speaks freshly to our experience……” Thoreau sought throughout his life to live a life of meaning – a life in which he would understand the truths of his own nature, his relationship with other men and his relationship with Nature and with the Universe.

In the Bhagavad-Gita Thoreau found clues for his quest which he transposed into his Journals: “The man who, having abandoned all lusts of the flesh, walketh without inordinate desires, unassuming, and free from pride, obtaineth happiness. ” “The wise man…. seeketh for that which is homogeneous to his own nature. ” We know too that Thoreau’s reading led him to an interest in Yoga. He wrote in a letter to a friend: “Free in this world as the birds in the air, disengaged from every kind of chains, those who have practiced the yoga gather in Brahma the certain fruit of their works…

The yogi, absorbed in contemplation, contributes in his degree to creation…. Divine forms traverse him…. and, united to the nature which is proper to him, he goes, he acts as animating original matter…. To some extent, and at rare interval, even I am a yogi. ” And in Walden, Thoreau describes a state of mind that has a close resemblance to the experience of the yogi. It is similar also to the transcendental Self of the Upanishads which as Sakshi or spectator merely looks on without participating in the pageant of the world.

“By a conscious effort of the mind we can stand aloof from the actions and their consequences; and all things, good and bad, go by us like a torrent. We are not wholly involved in Nature… I may be either the driftwood in the stream, or Indra in the sky looking down on it…… [I] am sensible of a certain doubleness by which I can stand as remote from myself as from another. However intense my experience, I am conscious of the presence and criticism of a part of me, which, as it were is not a part of me, but spectator, sharing no experience, but taking note of it; and that is no more I than it is you.

When the play… of life is over, the spectator goes his way. ” When Walt Whitman published Leaver of Grass in 1855, he was almost universally condemned for the formlessness of his poems and the grandiosity of his heretic philosophy. But Emerson made it a point to write a letter to the author: “I am very happy in reading it…. It meets the demand I am always making of what seemed the sterile and stingy Nature, as if too much handiwork or too much lymph in the temperament were making our Western wits fat and mean. I give you joy of your free and brave thought. I have great joy in it.

I find incomparable things said incomparably well. ” The ideas that Emerson referred to as “incomparable things said incomparably well” Thoreau was later to characterize as “wonderfully like the Orientals. ” For the long opening poem of Leave of Grass – “Song of Myself” – contains Whitman’s exultant concept of “myself” in which he expressess the essence of Vedantic mysticism. Mysticism, as it is understood by the Vedantist and as it finds expression in “Song of Myself” is a way of embracing the other, the objective world, in an inclusive conception of Selfhood. It is a way of finding the World in the Self and as the Self.

Like the “Cosmic Form” described in the Gita and the Dynamic Self of the Upanishads, Whitman’s “Self” sweeps through the Cosmos and embraces it: What is a man anyhow? What am I? and what axe you? In all people I see myself, none more and not one a barleycorn less And the good on bad I say of myself I say of them. And I know I am solid and sound, To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow, All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means. And 1 know I am death less. ” The critic Malcolm Cowley points out that Whitman’s mysticism has its counterpart in modern Indian writing too.

Sri Ramakrishna writes, “The Divine Mother revealed to me in the Kali temple that it was She who had become everything. She showed me that everything was full of Consciousness [Divinity], the Image of Consciousness, the altar was Consciousness, the water-vessels were Consciousness, the door sill was Consciousness, the marble floor was Consciousness…. I saw a wicked man in front of the Kali temple; but in him I saw the power of the Divine Mother vibrating. ” Earlier in the 19th Century, Whitman had written: I hear and behold God in every object……

I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass; I find letters from God chopped in the street, and everyone is signed by God’s name. ’ While there are innumerable points of similarity in thought and experience between Whitman and Oriental scripture, in some respects Whitman goes against the mainstream of Indian Philosophy. “Unlike most of the Indian sages, for example, he was not a thoroughgoing idealist.

He did not believe that the whole world of the senses, of desires, of birth and death, was only maya, illusion, nor did he hold that it was a sort of purgatory; instead he praised the world as real and joyful. He did not despise the body, but proclaimed that it was as miraculous as the soul. He was too good a citizen of the nineteenth century to surrender his faith in material progress as the necessary counterpart of spiritual progress. Although he yearned for ecstatic union with the soul or Oversoul, he did not try to achieve it by subjugating the senses, as advised by yogis and Buddhists alike; on the contrary, he thought the ‘merge’ could also be achieved by a total surrender to the senses.

” Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman – they were all good citizens of the nineteenth century and of the West. In the bulk of their work, all three writers built on native American material and embodied American attitudes, especially the concepts of individualism and self-reliance. Perhaps the most fitting commentary on their relationship to Indian literature was made by Gandhi after reading Emerson’s Essays: “The essays to my mind contain the teaching of Indian wisdom in a Western ‘guru’. It is interesting to see our own sometimes differently fashioned. ” ****** ****** ******

Indian Thought in Emerson Thoreau and Whitman Essay

You Only Live Once Essay

You Only Live Once Essay.

“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 not look back at the past and get disappointed because it is a waste of time, look forward to the future with hope and enthusiasm. Also, the past cannot be changed, so move on by forgetting the negatives of the past and focusing on the positives.

Anyone can try their best to live up their life by obtaining positivity, religion or beliefs do not matter because there is no religion obtaining their believers to be embedded with sorrow, just like the people who believe in the Enlightment period.

“A virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion,” (Emerson, 186). Both Transcendentalism and living life to the fullest do not require people to follow every rule and law in order to achieve success. You need to have self-reliance and trust in your feelings and instincts. God gave people the amazing ability to reason; it enables people to discover both scientific and spiritual truth. Enjoying and always living every moment of life is pretty important but following your dreams is another way to live life to its very fullest.

Following dreams is a significant way to achieve goals and live the life one always wanted. Dreams and wishes do not always magically come true; they are achieved with hard work. Following dreams is a great way to live a nice life because one pursues what they are most passionate about. When following dreams, one has to have confident in everything they do. If they do not succeed the first time, they should learn from mistakes and try again. “To be great is to be misunderstood…,” (Emerson, 186). When am

individual is reaching for their dreams, other people might think they are not being logical but that should not matter as long as they believe in themselves. Like mentioned before, Transcendentalists’ believed that self-reliance and trust in oneself are important. They also believed in feeling over reason. Ones dream may not seem logical but if they are passionate about it, they should find a way to achieve it. Following dreams and enjoying every moment of life are steps to living life to its greatest, but it will not be complete without appreciation.

A person’s appreciation and positivity are highly rewarding, which will result in living life to its fullest. Hating is just a waste of time because it is not motivating, so are negative thoughts. Always be thankful for everything because there are always people out there who are less fortunate. Accept every person for who they are; not everyone is the same and everyone has flaws. Enjoy the little things in life, the ones that people do not really think about, such as nature.

Always see the bright side of things, no matter how bad a day went, it could always be worse; stay positive by looking on the bright side of everything. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind,” (Emerson, 186). Nothing is more honest than what goes on in an individuals own mind and heart. That might not always be easy but Thinking positively will give you determination and encouragement. Rely on thyself and instincts, just like Transcendentalists’. They enjoy nature, completely rely on themselves, and believe that if natural events seem tragic, they can be explained on a spiritual level.

Everything happens for a reason and every tragic event has many upsides, no matter how horrible it is. One cannot live their life to the fullest with hate, they need to have appreciation just like they need to follow their dreams and enjoy every moment. Every person should try their best to live their life to the fullest. This can be fulfilled by enjoying every moment, following dreams, and having appreciation for everything in life. All these ideas make me wonder about how different the world would be if we had more than one life.

You Only Live Once Essay

Thoreau: Solitude Essay

Thoreau: Solitude Essay.

Henry David Thoreau is synonymous with Transcendentalism.  His mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, was the creator of the movement.  Because he truly believed in the concepts, Thoreau actually practiced it to the letter. Transcendentalism, a free meditation in spirituality and individualistic approach to everything, was something that he gave his life to exploring.

 He expounded on these views in Civil Disobedience and through his magnificent Plea for John Brown. Thoreau actually experimented with this idea when he self-imposed an exile on himself for two years at Walden Pond.

  He wrote about his experiment in Walden where he described his solitude in Chapter 5, and through this writing he was able to convey what he learned.  He learned that there was much to be learned in the solitude of society, and that complete solitude is not possible as long as there are natural surroundings because there is a complex society in nature.

            Solitude is the fifth chapter of Walden, written about the famous experiment at Walden Pond. Thoreau delves into a self-realization about nature on a cool windy evening when he is totally alone when it comes to other humans. There is no one around him except the elements, insects, and animals in their natural surroundings. He has gone outside and while he was there, he felt so close to nature that he even considered himself as one with it. This goes along with the Transcendentalist belief that God, nature and mankind are connected through an oversoul.  Nothing says this better than the first line of the chapter.

This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore. (Thoreau)  He was keenly aware of the natural night life that was around him and he became entranced what he experienced. He has come to a greater understanding about the world around him that he and others have taken for granted. He took special note of the animals that do their work during the night. The wildest animals do not repose, but seek their prey now; the fox, and skunk, and rabbit, now roam the fields and woods without fear. They are Nature’s watchmen, — links which connect the days of animated life. (Thoreau)

            While living at Walden Pond, Thoreau was not totally isolated.  He had neighbors, even it they were far away be today’s standard.  He rarely interacted with them, but it did happen on occasion.  He explains that Walden Pond is not a vast forest, but rather a small one.  There are houses within a mile of where he lives and he has even had visitors while he was taking a nightly walk by the pond. Even though Walden is small, he feels completely isolated from humans when he is in the small wood.  He says that he knows this because all people are fascinated with nature, so they will play with a piece of it anytime that they are around.

            Thoreau has learned in his solitude that the seasons and the weather bring what is needed to nature. He can see seasons and weather not as something to complain about.  Many wish that whatever their circumstance, then they long for another.  Thoreau has learned to cope by allowing himself to delight in the fact that it is all good for the things on the earth.  So if it is hot, then that is what the plants and animals need at the time.  If the weather is bad, then that is what the items in nature need to help them grow and flourish.  He does not get depressed by not being able to go outside and do what he wants and needs to do.

  Instead he uses the time to focus on these needs in his mind.  Through his solitude, he has the ability to clear his head and to completely focus on what is happening in nature.  He imagines the roots and seeds of the plants. When an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves. (Thoreau)  A person cannot focus the mind when it is full of the day’s activities and problems, but when it is alone. It can think clearly about his/her surroundings.  Thoreau even enjoyed the weather that kept him indoors because it allowed him to experience the total meditation he needed.

            Thoreau wonders how men could think that he is alone.  He feels that there are more societies than those created by man.  He presents the argument that no one or nothing is alone on earth because even the earth is a part of a huge galaxy, the Milky Way.

Thoreau is away from other humans, but the complex society of nature is all around him.  The animals in particular have a vast society.  They are all around mankind at all times.  The bullfrogs and all of the nocturnal animals are as busy as people in a city.  Insects by the thousands are there for mankind, but often man is too busy and has so much on his mind that he cannot see what is around him.  If more were in solitude, then they would have the chance to see and contemplate about the world around them.

            According to Thoreau, God is experimenting with man to see if he is addicted to gossip and other temptations of society.

Thoreau feels about his relation to God. Here in particular, he sees himself as being able, like God, to stand aloof from events going on around him. In a sense, life is like being a theater-goer, who can laugh and cry with the characters or remain indifferent. (Kifer)

He feels that man is a part of nature and God’s creation, therefore, God and nature are there for man.  It was a part of a grand design for them to all rely on each other. Instead of having the gossips in town for companions, he has a dog and that solitude is a state of mind.  He asserts that one can be lonely even when one is with many people.

            Thoreau has feels that he is not only on his own as far as being around people, but he is also in the position to provide for himself.  He even equates his need for medicine is as something that can be taken care of through a good deep breath of morning air in the country.  Nature provides all that an individual needs.

            Henry David Thoreau learned about becoming one with nature through his solitude.  He shares his views with others through his book Walden.  The Transcendental views and experiments helped him to become a part of the greater scheme of what he felt was important in the world.

Works Cited

Henry David Thoreau. American Transcendentalist Web. 2, August 2007,

Kifer, Ken. Solitude 2001. 2, August 2007.

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1854. Transcendentalist.Com. 2, August 2007,

Thoreau: Solitude Essay