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Transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau.

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Presentation on theme: "Transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau."— Presentation transcript:

1 Transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau

2 Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)  Urged people to think for themselves rather than follow rules that had been handed down for generations. “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” “The end of the human race will be that if will eventually die of civilization.”

3 Ralph Waldo Emerson LIFE EVENTS:  Born in Boston (1803) where is father was a Unitarian minister  His father died when Emerson was 8, leaving the family with financial problems.  At age 14, received scholarship to Harvard Divinity School (1825).  By 1829, a successful Boston minister & married

4 Ralph Waldo Emerson LIFE EVENTS cont.:  1831 (2 years later)…Emerson’s life took a new path: his wife died & he had been developing his own beliefs that conflicted with those of the church—he decided to leave the ministry.  New Belief: Each person contained a spark of divinity and that people should search for truths in nature and within themselves.  After resigning, he traveled to Europe—Influenced by English writers (William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle)  Returned to U.S. in 1883 (Concord, Mass.) & began lecturing and writing  Remarried 2 years later.

5 Ralph Waldo Emerson LIFE EVENTS cont.:  In Concord, founded the TRANSCENDENTAL CLUB—devoted to discussions of literature, philosophy, & religion.  At age 33, published “Nature”—a long essay that set forth the major ideas of transcendentalism. “Nature” along w/ other lectures urged Americans to think for themselves and to resist bonds of conformity.

6 Ralph Waldo Emerson (in a nutshell)  American essayist and poet  a leader of the philosophical movement of transcendentalism.  Influenced by such schools of thought as English romanticism, Neo-Platonism, and Hindu philosophy.  Emerson is noted for his skill in presenting his ideas eloquently and in poetic language.

7 Ralph Waldo Emerson Famous Works

8 Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.” One of his first memories was of staying awake at night "looking through the stars to see if I could see God behind them." One might say he never stopped looking into nature for ultimate Truth.

9 Henry David Thoreau LIFE EVENTS:  Graduated from Harvard, became a school teacher, resigned b/c he was ordered to discipline students by whipping them  Home: Concord, Mass.  Devoted his time to nature study, reading, writing, and odd jobs

10 Henry David Thoreau LIFE EVENTS cont.:  Very close to his brother, John  When John died of tetanus (cut himself shaving), Thoreau was traumatized  Thoreau paid tribute to his brother by writing an account of the camping and canoeing trip that he and John had taken a few years before.  He needed a quiet place to write, so…

11 Henry David Thoreau LIFE EVENTS cont.:  He persuaded his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, to allow him to build a cabin on his land at Walden Pond.  Thoreau lived at Walden Pond for 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days.  He observed and kept journals about what he saw on his trip (nature writing).  At age 28 he wrote his masterpiece, Walden, based on his observations there.


13 Henry David Thoreau INTERESTING LIFE FACTS:  He was a dedicated abolitionist & helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad.  He became a popular lecturer known for his whit & philosophical ideas.  Thoreau and his friend Emerson, who outlived him by 2 decades, are buried near each other in Concord.  When he died at age 44, few people outside Concord had ever heard of him. It was not until the 20 th century that Thoreau became famous around the world as a thinker and environmentalist.

14 Henry David Thoreau Famous Works

15 "If the law is of such nature that it requires you to be an agent of injustice to another, then I say, break the law." July 1846 Thoreau’s Night in Jail “Civil Disobedience”

16 Quotes by Emerson & Thoreau

17 Express yourself...... C A L V I N _________________ Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing on one's own sunshine. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

18 Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense. -Emerson I hate quotations. Tell me what you know. -Emerson There is properly no history; only biography. -Emerson

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