TRANSCENDENTALISM Can you Pronounce it? Can you spell it?
Transcendentalism n Definition: in determining the ultimate reality of God, the universe, the self and other important matters, one must transcend, or go beyond, everyday human experience in the physical world.
Idea: Belief in a higher kind of knowledge than can be achieved by human reason. TRANSCENDENTALISM
TRANSCENDENTALISM n a generation of well educated people who lived in the decades before the American Civil War. n New Englanders, mostly around Boston, were attempting to create a uniquely American body of literature. n These people believed, it was time for literary independence. n They deliberately went about creating literature, essays, novels, philosophy, poetry, and other writing that were clearly different from anything from any other European nation. n Men and women made up this group along with those who were anti-slavery.
IDEOLOGICAL ROOTS OF TRANSCENDENTALISM n Puritanism –belief in God as a powerful force –belief that each individual can experience God first-hand
Literary Roots of Transcendentalism n Romanticism – placed central importance on emotions and the individual –emphasized intuition and inner perception of truth that differs from reason –emphasized nature’s beauty, strangeness, and mystery –emphasized individual expression and artistic freedom
Characteristics: n Everything in the world, including human beings, is a reflection of the Divine Soul. n The physical facts of the natural world are a doorway to the spiritual or ideal world which hold important truths. n People can use their intuition to behold God’s spirit revealed in nature or their own souls. n Spontaneous feelings and intuition are superior to deliberate intellectualism and rationality.
TRANSCENDENTAL BELIEFS n OVERSOUL: –man, universe, and nature are intertwined
Most well-known Transcendentalist authors: n Ralph Waldo Emerson n Henry David Thoreau n Walt Whitman n Margaret Fuller n Emily Dickinson n Nathaniel Hawthorne n Herman Melville n Edgar Allan Poe
Transcendentalism has a light side and a dark side. Light Side: “All is good” Dark Side: “evil is an illusion”
Anti-Transcendentalists aka Dark Romantics n Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville n View of the world lacked optimism. They saw a dark side to human existence and recorded this aspect of human nature in their works. n Similarities to transcendentalism: valued intuition over reason, saw signs and symbols in events, spiritual facts lie behind physical appearances. n Their view developed from the mystical and aspects of Puritan thought. n Their works explored the conflict between good and evil, psychological effects of guilt and sin, and madness and derangement in human psyche. When id goes bad. n They saw the blankness and the horror of evil within humanity.
Where does Edgar Allen Poe fit in the Dark Side? n Considered a Dark Romantic n Poe is viewed as a Gothic writer. n Poe’s works strongly represent Gothic elements more so than valuing intuition over reason or examining the natural world for God and spiritual truths.
Gothic literature… n Settings- include large, drafty old houses that have "been in the family for years." n Atmosphere of mystery and suspense n A ghostly legend, an unexplainable occurrence, or a story about a horrible death or murder. n Omens, foreshadowing, and dreams usually play a large role in the mysterious air that is created within the story. n Include highly charged emotional states like: terror, a feeling that one is on the brink of insanity, anger, agitation, an exaggerated feeling of some impending doom, and obsessive love. n Supernatural events: ghosts, doors that open themselves, unexplained sounds, etc. n Damsels in distress are frequent. Women who are frightened and confused, wandering around lost, or dying due to a slow and unexplainable ailment. n Words designed to evoke images of gloom and doom: dark, foreboding, forbidding, ghostly, etc. n Romantic themes often involve the death of a man or woman in the throes of some great passion, the obsessive nature of a man (id) or woman in love, or excessive grief one feels upon the loss of a loved one.
TRANSCENDENTALISM n Transcendentalism began with a few and grew. n This philosophy lasted for several years in New England n It ended as the Civil War began.