Understanding Ralph Waldo Emerson Essay

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Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

Henry David Thoreau, “A Transcendentalist’s Profession of Faith”

This will be our first foray into the writings of Thoreau; so I want you to do something very specific as you read. Think about Emerson while reading Thoreau, and compare the two writers' style and compare how the different writers effect you differently. Many people have said that Thoreau is merely an Emerson copycat, so I want you to think about that. I want you to come up with a conclusion about whether or not you agree with that, and what it means if you do (or if you don't). Thoreau is, without question, the writer from this era that is most widely read, but at the time of his writing he was no where near as popular as Emerson. What does that mean? And why do you think that's true?

writing assignment:

So by now you have read a lot of Emerson. And a lot of you in your essays said that he is a very confusing, and at times frustrating, writer. I totally agree. We'll be reading more of him, but we'll also be transitioning to other writers, most specifically Henry David Thoreau (who is much, much easier to understand). So this assignment is going to be a pretty straightforward one. The prompt is:

What do you think of Emerson?

I want you to be VERY specific here. Don't just say he's confusing--tell me why, and tell me the implications of that. Many people have said that Emerson is confusing on purpose, and that is a kind of unkindness to his readers (I don't disagree). So talk about that kind of stuff. You can write whatever you want in any kind of way you want; but again, be VERY specific. The more specific the better. Use quotes, then talk about this quotes. Use Thoreau to help you explain Emerson, etc.

Your essays should be at least two pages double spaced (Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, 1" margins all around).

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Understanding Ralph Waldo Emerson




Understanding Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson has a unique way of expressing his ideas through, and this brings
a paradox in the literary field. Various writers have picked on his style of writing such as Henry
David Thoreau who has a similar writing style to Emerson. In this paper Emerson’s background
and style shall be discussed in detail. Furthermore, comparison shall be made between Ralph
Wald Emerson’s writing and that of Henry David Thoreau.
In order to understand Ralph Waldo Emerson one should be able to understand the
fundamentals of Transcendentalism. Transcendentalism started in New England in 1836, and the
movement was vital in the creation of philosophy, culture, new ideas, and literature. Individuals
in the movement developed ideas that were rebellious and protested the society’s intellectualism
beliefs, the authority of classic works and the religious doctrine. Transcendentalism believed that
each should rely on their spiritual essence a...

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