Transcendental and Anti Transcendental Movements

During the New England Renaissance period of 1840-1855, literature underwent two very distinct movements known as Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism. Both movements were very influential and consisted of authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (Transcendentalist) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (Anti-Transcendentalist). Concentrating their ideas on human nature and intuition, rather than on logic and reason, both these movements served as a flourishing revolt against previously accepted ideas. The Transcendental movement focused its ideas on the essential unity of creation, the pure goodness of humanity and in individual intuition as the highest source of knowledge, rather than sensory experience. Optimism dominated people’s thoughts and was shown in the ideas of the Transcendentalists. The Transcendentalists believed deeply in human potential and in the purity of Nature. Truth, they believed, was also reflected in Nature and how it made you feel, and Nature was a reflection of the beauty of human nature. They focused on the possibilities of the human spirit and the capability of it reaching the “Over Soul”. The “Over Soul” is the so-called state in which all beings (Nature, God, and Humanity) are spiritually united. During this movement, individualism, self-reliance, and rejection of traditional authority were also highly stressed. A literary work which reflects the Transcendental ideas is Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”. Emerson’s quotes display the reader a clear image of ideas which Transcendentalists believed in. In “Self-Reliance,”written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Transcendental philosophy of life is highly stressed. “Self Reliance” focuses its theme around the Transcendental idea of individualism. “..That imitation is suicide”, a quote from “Self-Reliance”, shows the reader that transcendentalists stressed the individual rather than conforming to soc…

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