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Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature
Transcript of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature
Son of Unitarian Minister
Second of five surviving sons
When his father died, Emerson was only eight years old
After his father's death, Emerson's aunt felt that she was to take up his education
His aunt's name is Mary Moody Emerson
His move to Theology
In October 1826 Emerson began to preach as an Unitarian preacher and was ordained as a junior pastor at Bostons Second Church in 1829
In 1831 Emerson's wife-who he married in 1822-died of tuberculosis.
In his grief stricken state he wrote "my angel is gone to heaven this morning and I am alone in the world."
Emerson eventually moved away from the church and began his journey as a writer
At the age of 9 Emerson was sent to Boston Public Latin School
He attended Harvard from 1817 to 1821
His teachers believed that he didn't show any promise because he was in the bottom of his graduating class
He served as-in his words-a "hopeless schoolmaster" for several years
In 1825, Emerson turned to study theology at Harvards Divinity School
Early American Literature to Whitman
September 30, 2014
Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature
Emerson as a young man
Emerson and The Romantic Period
'"Arguably the most influential American writer of the 19th century"
Emerson grieves that people accept the past instead of experiencing God & nature in the present.
He claims that to answer all the questions about God, nature & the universe is by our experiences and the world around us
Nature is an expression of the divine and helps us understand it
Man hasn't yet gained the truth broad enough to understand nature
Defines nature as everything separate from the inner, separate from man
States that he'll use the word common & philosophically
Baym, Nina, gen. ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature.
8th edition Vol. B New York Norton 2012, Print.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo Nature Boston, Massachusetts, 1836. Print.
VanSpanckeren, Kathryn The Romantic Period 1820-1860: Essayists
and Poets IIP Digital Outline of American Literature 10 October
Wilson, Leslie Perrin. Cliffnotes on Thoreau, Emerson and
Transcendentilism. 29 September 2014
Describes true solitude by going out in nature and leaving behind things that will distract you
The stars were made, according to Emerson, to always be reminded of God's "ever-presence"
Emerson says that we need to see nature the way children do, an awe kind of way; adults won't achieve this until there inner and outer senses are balanced
"All aspects of nature correspond to some state of mind" (Wilson)
the "visionary" man loses himself and becomes the "transparent eyeball"
The way we react to nature depends on your state of mind and how you approach it
Reached America in 1820 but was originally from Europe
Romantic ideas centered around art, nature and metaphors of organic growth
Emerson was one of the most influential writers of the Romantic era
The development of the self and self-awareness became a major theme in this period
According to the Romantic theory, "self and nature were one, self-awareness is not a dead end but a mode of knowledge opening up the universe." (VanSpanckeren)
There are different classes that all men fall under: commodity, beauty, language and discipline
it is a benefit that is temporary and mediate
In this chapter he explains the basic needs that we get from nature
this includes the food, water and heat that man needs
Emerson says that this is the only need that men have for nature and they are appropriate
men harness nature through practical uses
"A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work."
humans desire beauty; our desire comes from the structure of the eye itself and the laws of light
both together offer a single vision of separate objects pleasing as a whole
Everything in nature has its own beauty, just depends on the perspective one allows
Emerson presents three properties of "natural beauty"; the first is that it gives simple pleasure to man, it restores those who are tired from their day to day life
we cannot capture this beauty if we constantly search for it, we have to "submit" to it
The second point he makes about beauty is that mans will works with nature to enhance the heroic ability in man
"Beauty is the mark God sets upon virtue."
The third an final point is that natural beauty stimulates the human intellect which in return uses nature to grasp the idea of the universe
a work of art demonstrates mans particular powers
man strives for wholeness and shows it in different ways; through the poet, the sculptor and musician
modern man needs simplicity to express himself effectively
the whole of nature symbolizes spirituality and offers insight to the universe
All of nature is a metaphor to the human mind
all men have access to comprehending the laws of the universe
Emerson employs the vision of the circle
man may grasp the meaning of the physical world by living harmoniously with nature
men understand the full meaning of nature by degrees
1. What must a man do in order to appreciate nature?
2. Why can children see nature and adults cannot?
3.Who owns the landscape?
4. What does Emerson mean when he describes himself as a transparent eyeball?
all of nature serves to educate man through logical understanding and mystical reason
through logical understanding the ultimate lesson is common sense
each object has its own use and cannot be fitted to be used for something else
Emerson says that nature is made to serve man, we take what is useful from it in forming the sense of the universe
nature forms the basis for religion and ethics