What Are Transcendentalists Known For? Essay

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Nicole Matloff Matloff 1 English 11 Mrs Black January 20 2015

What Are Transcendentalists Known For? Transcendentalism is infamous for many things such as, civil disobedience and how transcendentalists construct their identity through their shared interests, actions and beliefs. Some older transcendentalists like Henry Thoreau notorious for their works, such as "Walden" that tells of nature being the only pure and reliable thing, that display their beliefs that correlate with newer transcendentalists works such as, "Into The Wild" where Chris McCandless goes on a fatal transcendentalist journey to live amongst himself in the Alaskan Tundra. Other older transcendentalists also have powerful and relatable works like "Self Reliance" by Ralph

that explains how you only need yourself and nature to be happy, which agrees with the newer work of Robert Service, "The Spell Of The Yukon" where a once materialistic journey turns into a journey of enlightenment for Service. A common identity trait many transcendentalists describe is enlightenment.

is reached once a person has reached total oneness with nature. Service experiences

enlightenment when he says "There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;/It’s luring me on as of old;/Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting/So much as just finding the gold" (Service 9). Service now realize what he wants is to be with nature, not gold. Of course, different people experience enlightenment differently. Christopher McCandless experiences enlightenment when he writes "HAPPINESS IS ONLY REAL WHEN SHARED" (Krakaur 189). McCandless experiences enlightenment when he realizes that community is essential to happiness. For Emerson, enlightenment was realizing that no one is ever alone because they have nature. Emerson says "nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind" (Emerson 7). Emerson believes that the only thing in the world you need is yourself to be happy. Enlightenment is not the only way transcendentalists construct their identity, they also construct their identity through what they do. Transcendentalists have very specific personalities, and although they are liked by some others, they tend to come off as out of the ordinary. Service, for example, was known for his riches. The only reason he went to the Yukon in the first place was to get more riches when he says "you come to get rich (damned good reason)" (Service 3). Service could still see why someone would want to get rich, and in fact he wanted the same materialistic fortune. Of course, however, McCandless took a more transcendentalist approach even at a young age with constructing his identity through what he does, when his first grade