Sample essay topic, essay writing: Thoreaus Elements Of American Romanticism - 1254 words
Elements of American RomanticismHenry David Thoreau pens his book Walden during a revolutionary period of time known as American Romanticism. The literary movement of American Romanticism began roughly between the years of 1830 and 1860. It is believed to be a chapter of time in which those who had been dissatisfied by the Age of Reason were revolting through works of literature. All elements of Romanticism are in sharp, abrupt contrast to those types of ideas such as empirical observation and rationality. An online article describes American Romanticism in the following manner, "They celebrated imagination/intuition versus reason/calculation, spontaneity versus control, subjectivity and metaphysical musing versus objective fact, revolutionary energy versus tradition, individualism versus social conformity, democracy versus monarchy, and so on" (Strickland).
In 1845 during that period of time, Thoreau decides to spend two years of his life in an experiment with Mother Nature in a cabin at Walden Pond. He tells exquisite tales of life in natural surroundings in his book, Walden, through a most primitive organic style. Walden is a key work of American Romanticism because of its embedded ideas of solitude, individualism, pantheism and intuition. Romanticism seeks nature as a means for obtaining knowledge, and while Thoreau heavily spends his time in the woods and around the pond by himself, he inevitably feels a sense of solitude. Solitude is not necessarily loneliness or intentional isolation of oneself. It is merely an acknowledgment of the fact that he or she is alone
Thoreau has his own thoughts about solitude in which he writes:In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantages of human neighborhood insignificant, and I have never thought of them since. Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. (88-89)He acknowledges his distance from humanity in the preceding passage, yet he does not feel lonely because Nature upholds him. Additionally, he clearly states that the living organisms around him are what he dwells upon for his emotional support. Thus, this is proving that solitude was a common theme of Romantic writing where he has demonstrated from the previous excerpt. Romantics commonly incorporate ideas of individualism in their writings because they value what's best for a person in his or her day to day life over what's best for a large group of people such as a country or a nation.
An online article refutes the following about individualism, "Individualism holds that the individual is the primary unit of reality and the ultimate standard of value..it sees society as a collection of individuals, not something over and above them" (Stata). As the article seems to point out, Individualism is a perspective of reality that relies on an individual's actions during the course of the day to find significance and meaning in life. In Walden, the author writes in a way that captures this thought without directly placing it in the text. He tells his stories in the book without an agenda except for what is happening in the moment. As he drifts through the stories through the pages, each one lacks any sign of a logical order. This organic style of writing is clearly of that same individualistic nature. Romanticism pursues nature as a fundamental source for theology; it believes that God can only be found in the natural surroundings.
They perceive god to be feelings that are returned to them when they are around nature. They reserve a great awe or reverence and mystery for the planet and the universe. These theological ideas were derived from a belief that was "coined in 1705 by John Toland, for someone who believes that there is only one eternal being - the Universe" (Harrison). Further in this article, it describes the basic conceptions of pantheism, "We need no faith, no ancient books, to reveal these feelings and experiences to us. The visions are right in front of our eyes, the feelings are in our hearts" (Harrison).
Thoreau seems to portray the same respect for the planet and discovers a deity in nature:There is nowhere recorded a simple and irrepressible satisfaction with the gift of life, any memorable praise of God. All health and success does me good, however far off and withdrawn it may appear; all disease and failure helps to make me sad and does me evil, however much sympathy it may have with me or I with it. If, then, we would indeed restore mankind by truly Indian, botanic, magnetic, or natural means, let us first be as simple and well as Nature ourselves, dispel the clouds which hang over our own brows, and take up a little life into our pores. (54)In simpler terms, Thoreau believes that humanity needs to return to simple life and find the true god in the environment. Exceedingly, he also draws on the point that good health still will come when one is surrounded by nature. Therefore, he believes that all positive aspects of life come from God; God is found in Nature. Although it seems there are limited ways for obtaining knowledge, cognition and reason are not the only forms.
There is also a way of establishing thoughts through a method that relies entirely on the senses. It's a distinct feeling of knowing something that can established with experience that is known as intuition. Intuition is defined by a spiritualized article in which it writes, "When we lay the groundwork for a spiritual connection to one another and to God, we sharpen these higher senses of receptivity. Intuition is our greatest link to our higher selves (our spiritual selves) and thus to God" (Pohle). As the authors present in the article, intuition is a spirituality of the senses in which they believe that is a link to God. Thoreau has his own feel for intuition, and he writes, "Yet the spirit can for the time pervade and control every member and function of the body, and transmute what in form is the grossest sensuality into purity and devotion" (167).
He believes that the spirit is central control of sensuality which is the focal point of an intuitive behavior. Thoreau's ideas of intuition are another theme common for writers during the Romantic period of time. Walden contains many elements of Romanticism making Henry David Thoreau into a prominent American Romantic writer. Such elements include his writings about life in Nature having great solitude; he became friends with the surrounding plants and animals. Secondly, he wrote about what was occurring day to day at Walden's Pond which showed him as being individualistic. Moreover, there was the idea that God can only be found in nature, and pantheism was constant idea in his book.
Finally, Thoreau wrote about intuition as a means of obtaining knowledge, and his use of senses as a tool for building intuition. These ideas time and time again show the various aspects of Thoreau being portrayed as an American Romantic which has lead to a great historical achievement as a writer that he well deserves. Works CitedHarrison, Paul. "Frequently Asked Questions about Pantheism." (1996). 10 December 2012 .Pohle, Nancy C. and Selover, Ellen L.
"Awareness & Intuition." 10 December 2012 .Stata, Raymie. "What is Individualism." (1992). 10 December 2012 .Strickland, Brad. "AMERICAN ROMANTICISM (1828-1865) OVERVIEW." (1997). 10 December 2012 .Thoreau, Henry David.
Walden and Civil Disobedience. New York: W. Norton & Company, Inc, 1966.
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