Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination

1527 words 7 pages
Emily Dickinson: Transcendentalist Experience Through Imagination

The early 19th century ideas of transcendentalism, which were introduced by Ralph Emerson and David Thoreau, where man as an individual becomes spiritually consumed with nature and himself through experience are contrasted by Emily Dickinson, who chose to branch off this path by showing that a transcendentalist experience could be achieved through imagination alone. These three monumental writers set the boundaries for this new realm of thought.
Although these writers ideas were not similar, they all followed the simple idea that "the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul" . The male perspective seen through the works of Thoreau and Emerson, where nature "refers
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This idea is important to Emerson because it transforms "the tradesman, the attorney comes out of the din and craft of the street, and sees the sky and the woods, and is a man again"
. Looking at himself as an individual, not as a number lost in a sea of people walking down a street, enabled Emerson to draw power to himself, where he did not have to rely on anyone or anything. He became his own deity, his own master, and his self owner. Emerson contained the ability "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men"
, and that in itself is a philosophy which made him stand out from many, and made him an individual.

Emerson clearly states in Nature, being in your natural surrounding, the wilderness, is the key to happiness. But fails to recognize that not all human's natural surroundings are the "woods". Although he does admit that a true transcendentalist "does not reside in nature, but in man, or in a harmony of both" , he still focuses on a transcendentalist being in tune with nature.
Emerson feels that transcendentalism must come from experience in the wilderness, and then through intellect.

David Thoreau also used "nature" for an escape from the wheel of society, where he "went into the woods" in order "to live deliberately". The woods is where the soul and nature combine to be one. Thoreau ideas were the foundations of transcendentalism, where Emerson,