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Thoreau and Transcendentalism

A very brief introduction to the movement.

Christina PC

on 26 April 2018

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Transcript of Thoreau and Transcendentalism

Transcend (v):

to rise above or go beyond the limits
To be above a material existence
What is Transcendentalism?
A literary and philosophical movement in the 1830’s and 40’s (we are studying the second transcendentalist movement)
Transcendentalism was a reaction against scientific rationalism.
Followed/ was a part of the “Romantic Movement” in America
Also known as “New England Renaissance”
renaissance means "rebirth"
Ralph Waldo Emerson was the founder of this movement
Core Values/ Beliefs of Transcendentalists

Believed in value of individual
Valued emotion/ intuition over logic and reason
Believed people should follow “their own inner light”
Believed in “nonconformity” being your own person, going against the crowd
often expressed Nature as a powerful being (capitalized just as some religions capitalize God)
Henry David Thoreau- Emerson’s protégé
born 1817
went to Harvard College (now university)
briefly became a teacher, but then met Emerson
In 1845, Thoreau built a small home for himself on Walden Pond, on property owned by Emerson.
Thoreau went into the woods to live deliberately and discover his true self.
Spent 2 yrs, 2 months in a cabin in the woods at Walden Pond (MA)
b. 1803 in Boston
attended Harvard, became a teacher and then entered the ministry
wrote "Self-Reliance"
1st wife passed away; traveled around Europe and was influenced by philosophers and authors there
wanted to find a new way of thinking
wrote essays and poetry
According to Emerson, the human mind is so powerful it can unlock any mystery, from the intricacies of nature to the wonder of God.
To Emerson, “the individual is the world.”
This was a radical thought in an age that gave all authority to the organized institutions of government, religion, and education.
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail
He opposed the government for waging the Mexican war (to extend slavery) eloquently in Resistance to Civil Government, based on his brief experience in jail; he lectured against slavery in an abolitionist lecture, Slavery in Massachusetts. He even supported John Brown's efforts to end slavery after meeting him in Concord, as in A Plea for Captain John Brown.

Walden Pond
Thoreau's experiences in jail led him to write this essay:
And he influenced these individuals:
Full transcript