Understanding Of Nature and Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

Both Nature and Self-Reliance are similar works of idealist Ralph Waldo Emerson. These essays helped in forming the core of Emerson’s transcendentalist movement. They are heavily focused on the importance of imagination over intellect and provide the reader with a strategic guide toward self-discovery.

As an example, the necessities one’s own anti-establishment and individualism are reflected in both Nature and Self-Reliance. When Emerson writes “If a man be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds will separate between him and what he touches” (Nature, p. 192), he is explaining that when surrounded by others, one can, just as well, see nature. Except, only when there is no one else around to influence that man’s visualization, is he able to truly take in the scenery of the world through his own perspective. Just as Emerson states in Self-Reliance, “to believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart…that is genius” (Self-Reliance, p. 195), one should speak from their own mind because there is always a chance that it could become “the universal sense”.

Another similar key point that Emerson tries to make clear in Nature and Self-Reliance is that one should reject the option of strolling along the path of the norm. In Nature, Emerson states “if the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore… But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe…” (Nature, p. 191) Emerson proposes that if something is seen or experienced monotonously, it becomes a frequent part of the scenery and can, more easily, be taken for granted as one tends to get caught up in his regular, routinely lifestyle. Emerson hammered the nail right on the head with this idea. When something becomes a part of one’s daily surroundings, in whatever situation, a person is more susceptible to pursuing the track of the standard, or norm, by accidently falling into this pattern. “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore…” (Self-Reliance, p. 195) again, suggests that in order to be an actual individual, one should not follow all of the rules that society pushes onto its people, even if they are simply regulations that have been formed for the benefit of the community. A true separate heart would rather venture into society, forming his own rules along the way of his personal journey, instead of just slipping and descending into society’s usual.

Ultimately, both of these stories hold a principal set of beliefs that border a single common essence. “I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God…” (Nature, p. 192) portrays an odd concept of equality. In this quote, Nature puts forward the notion that humans should match with, and feel as if they’re one with nature itself, or just by themselves, in general, as a single person or entity. Self-Reliance reads that “the great man is he who in the midst of the crown keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (Self-Reliance, p. 195) which also throws its readers the thought of nonconformity, and the opinion of lacking similar aspects of all the people that surround them.

Both of these stories make an attempt to influence their readers to keep an open mind. Which is one of the reasons they were so popular in Emerson and Thoreau’s American transcendentalist movement. While Thoreau introduced an uncommon way of traditional, society impacted existence, and a newer perspective on each individual a community holds, Emerson created and spread new ways of looking at America, affecting the normal ways in which citizens thought. The facts of Emerson’s stories were what really had an effect on this impressive difference they formed, though. Being the main promoters of the transcendentalist movement, his ideas made mindsets switch and wriggle out of the tight grip society had around them. Without Emerson’s stories, today’s world might have turned out to be totally different.

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