Transcendentalism – Idealistic Philosophical and Social Movement

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Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau started the transcendentalist movement in America in the Nineteenth Century. People in today’s society seem to follow each other instead of following their own thoughts. People believe they need lots of possessions in life to achieve success. Technology and money have made people reliant on them and they can not go without either one. In Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson and in Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, the authors express nonconformity, simplicity, and corruption of society in order to convey transcendentalism.

Nonconformity allows people not to conform to rules or practice everyone else follows. People lose sight of themselves when they conform to the ways of society. Envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide (Emerson 261). Emerson says this to express that if people copy other people they kill their originality. People often seem afraid to go against what everyone else believes even when they do not believe the same beliefs. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members (Emerson 261). Society does not want their members to rebel against their beliefs. According to Malcolm X, I admired any Negro man who has never had himself conked, or who has had the sense to get rid of it – as I finally did ( 283). Malcolm X realizes that he does not have to change his hair to fit in with everyone. Many people did not have their hair conked, so Malcolm never conked his hair anymore. Conforming to the ways of others only hurts people and never helps them as a person. Dictionary.com states that simplicity as absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainless. Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to live his life in the simplest way. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! (Walden 91). Thoreau says simplicity often to express that living in society people do not have to a lot to live good.

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