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Transcendentalism Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Urged people to think for themselves rather than follow rules that had ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Transcendentalism

  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Henry David Thoreau

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

Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Born in Boston (1803) where is father was a
    Unitarian minister
  • His father died when Emerson was 8, leaving the
    family with financial problems.
  • Entered Harvard College at age 14 Received
    scholarship to Harvard Divinity School at age 22
  • By 1829, a successful Boston minister married

Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • LIFE EVENTS cont.
  • 1831 (2 years later)Emersons life took a new
    path his wife died he had been developing his
    own beliefs that conflicted with those of the
    churchhe 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 EuropeInfluenced
    by English writers (William Wordsworth, Samuel
    Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle)
  • Returned to U.S. in 1833 (Concord, Mass.) began
    lecturing and writing
  • Remarried 2 years later.

Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • LIFE EVENTS cont.
  • In Concord, founded the TRANSCENDENTAL
    CLUBdevoted to discussions of literature,
    philosophy, religion.
  • At age 33, published Naturea 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

Ralph Waldo Emerson(in a nutshell)
  • American essayist and poet
  • a leader of the philosophical movement of
  • 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.

Ralph Waldo EmersonFamous Works
Henry David Thoreau(1817-1862)
  • If a man does not keep pace with his companions,
    perhaps it is because he hears a different
  • 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

Henry David Thoreau
  • 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

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

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.

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Henry David Thoreau
  • 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
  • When he died at age 44, few people outside
    Concord had ever heard of him. It was not until
    the 20th century that Thoreau became famous
    around the world as a thinker and

Henry David ThoreauFamous Works
Civil Disobedience
"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 Thoreaus Night in Jail
Quotes by Emerson Thoreau
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
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.
There is properly no history only biography.
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