Thoreau: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau Essay

Submitted By Ben-Jennings
Words: 816
Pages: 4

Henry David Thoreau and Transcendentalism Have you ever read stories in which the protagonist surrenders all he owns to pursue a life in the wild? Stories of men like Daniel Boone who loved the wilderness, and wanted nothing more than to see it flourish from generation to generation. Their existed and still exists a group by the name of the transcendentalists, who believe that materialism is a terrible virtue, and no government is necessary, to justify these beliefs the group would conduct social experiments; for example, living in the wilderness. A social pioneer by the name of Henry David Thoreau decided that the only way to prove his principles was to live two years of social exile, in the middle of the wilderness. "Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth (Walden).” Not many have the courage to lay their beliefs on the line, but here is the story of one man who did. Born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, Thoreau was raised alongside his three siblings John (the oldest), Helen and Sophia (the youngest). His father assembled pencils at the local factory, and his mother would rent out parts of their house to boarders. Being a very intelligent young man, Thoreau began studying at Harvard University, learning a variety of subjects including a few languages. Although, Most men of the day would graduate college in hopes of a law or doctoral degree, Thoreau pursued a career in education. Upon graduating from college, Thoreau began his education career as a school teacher in Concord, but that would not last, as Thoreau's refusal in opting for corporal punishment ended in a loss of the position. Out of the tragedy, arose good, for later that year Thoreau would befriend his mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, and learn of transcendentalism. Unable to find Work in the city of Maine, Thoreau returned to Concord to help his eldest brother John open a school, whose lack of physical punishment and emphasis on nature and science made the school quite a success. Three years later, John became ill which led to the closing of the school, with nowhere to go Thoreau turned to his father for a local position at the pencil factory, his father obliged. Thoreau was very grateful for his position at the factory, but felt there was more to life than what he was experiencing, he moved in with his good friend Emerson, who helped grow the writer in him eventually leading to his greatest creation “Walden” (biography).” Before diving into the topic of transcendentalism, one must first be able to identify the definition. Transcendentalism is a literary and philosophical movement, associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, asserting the existence of an ideal spiritual reality that transcends the empirical and scientific and is knowable through intuition (thefreedictionary.com). Origins of transcendentalism first arose among New England Congregationalists who differed from orthodox Calvinism in the ideas of predestination and emphasizing trinity of God over unity of God. It also developed as a ploy against the ideas of rationalism. Emerson exposed Thoreau to these ideas, in which he accepted and fought to have these same ideas remain throughout generations beyond his time.
"Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in…