Transcendentalism & Emerson

American Renaissance
• Romantic movement is fully realized
• Poets and writers discover “true” American
voice; original & separate from European
American Renaissance 
1800 – 1860
1) Intuition
2) Inspiration from Nature
3) Imagination
4) Inner Experience
5) Innocence
All 5 I’s of Romanticism are related to the
importance of the individual
1840 - 1860
• Romanticism to the extreme
• Emphasis on intuition (inner
• Nurtured by intellectual and social growth in
New England
• Believed in human perfectibility and worked
toward utopia
• Believed everything reflects Divine Soul (kind
of like God, but not necessarily the Puritan
god…more like nirvana)
• Intuition is key to truth…nature is important
as a way to get in touch with intuition
Transcendental Thought
Paraphrase each ideal.
• Nonconformity
• Self-reliance
• Free thought
• Confidence
• Importance of nature
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Led Transcendentalism
– Ideal state of being is to
“transcend” or rise
above earthly concerns
– To achieve this goal,
individual must seek
spiritual, not material,
greatness and the
essential truths of life
through intuition
5-Minute Discussion
Share your thoughts with a neighbor.
– How are you affected by nature? Do you find comfort
in it? Do you reflect the moods of nature?
– What does it mean to know something intuitively?
For example, has a parent or a sibling ever known
something was wrong with you without having talked
with or seen you? What do we mean when we say "I
just know it"?
– How do you demonstrate that you are an individual?
Do you think independently of others or do you
follow the crowd?
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Paragraph 1:
– What does Emerson mean
when he says, “envy is
ignorance” and “imitation
is suicide”?
– What does he say about
“power” and “work”?
– Paraphrase this sentence:
“The eye was placed
where one ray should fall,
that it might testify of that
particular ray.”
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Paragraph 2:
– How is trust a part of
being self-reliant?
– Emerson instructs us to
“accept the place the
divine Providence has
found” for us. Do you
agree? Why or why not?
– How is acceptance
different than
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Paragraph 3:
– Why does Emerson see
society as the enemy of
– What is the role of
nonconformity? What
does that word mean to
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Paragraph 4:
– What makes a man (in
Emerson’s view)?
– Connect this quote to
something we’ve read
previously: “Nothing is
at last sacred but the
integrity of your own
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Paragraph 5:
– What is a hobgoblin?
– What is a “foolish
– How does it get in the
way of genius?
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Working in groups, identify 1 example for at
least 3 types of Transcendental thought and
record on your chart.
1) Matt, Sarah, Ty
2) Keith, Anthony,
3) Mitch D., Andy,
4) Mitch F., Kyle,
5) John, Stina,
Andrew, Rachel
6) Wesley, Makenna,
7) Keane, Landon,
Caroline, Haley
8) Amon, Chris,
9) Bethany, Jake,
10) Annie, Dallin,
“Self-Reliance” (225)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Working in groups, identify 1 example for at
least 3 types of Transcendental thought and
record on your chart.
1) Jordan A., Chip, 2) Bryce, Riley,
3) Rachel, Will,
Tyler S., Brock
4) Samantha,
Taylor, Billy, Ryan
5) Andrew, Tyler
F., Tori
6) Ty, Susan,
Austin, Sarah
7) Peyton,
Taegen, Morgan
8) Tobias, Jordan
R., Summer
9) Kendall, Che,
The search for identity is a common thread in American
literature. It is expressed in through three typical topics:
American Dream
American Journey
American Hero
•Quest for increased status
and success and/or personal
•How do we try to improve our
•How a person or character
changes or develops
physically, mentally
(psychologically), or
emotionally (spiritually)
•How do we change?
•An individual who finds
himself or herself; usually a
common person; may be a
tragic hero; may be heroic
through action or through selfunderstanding
•How do we achieve our
Themes of American Literature