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It s the 1800’s and America, still in the making, is in the pursuit of its manifest destiny, stretching from sea to shining sea. Immigrants with religious background are becoming dispersed within the already socially diverse community. America is in the midst of a religious awakening, just in time to counteract the immorality in a time of uncertainty and confusion, as illustrated in Emerson s 1827 journal entry Peculiarities of the present age. In this entry Emerson voices his opinion about the rapidly changing society.
Jan.-Feb. 1827 Peculiarities of the present age
1.Instead of the systematic pursuit of science men cultivate the knowledge of anecdotes
2.It is said to be the age of the first person singular.
3.The reform of the Reformation.
4.Transcendentalism. Metaphysics and ethics look inward – and France produces Mad. De Stael; England, Wordsworth; America, Sampson Reed; as well as German Swedenborg.
5.The immense extent of the English language and influence. The Eng. Tongue is spreading over all N. America, except Mexico, over Demerary and, Jamaica and, Indostan, New Holland and the Australian islands.
6 The paper currency.
7.The disposition among men of associating themselves to promote any purpose.
(Millions of societies.) ( Porte 61)
Americans are searching far and wide for guidance and reasoning, many find their heroes to be writers, while many writers turn to transcendentalism; philosophy for answers. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a founder of the transcendentalist movement, was one of the most influential literary figures of the 19th century. Emerson sought to create all things new with a philosophy stressing the recognition of God Immanent, the presence of ongoing creation and revelation by a God apparent in everything and exist within everyone. (Gale research) Emerson often wrote with Eastern concepts, good versus evil, dark versus light; the idea was that all things animated or not have a delicate balance. Through his essays, Emerson was successful
in persuading many people to think about the likelihood of such an occurrence. Many heated debates spurred from Emerson s work. As a: Poet, writer, lecturer, teacher and spiritualist, he inadvertently created many writers of the 19th century. As an essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson s Idealism brought forth recognition to the mortal limitations of man.
Breaking new grounds, Emerson made an impact on literature so great that they perceived that he was an authority on idealism due to his uncanny analytical thinking, making seemingly simplistic things, mortal
or inanimate, have a complex worth. Many saw this new way of thinking as a trend for the ages.
( Wilson 145 ) As an American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson influenced the lives of many, in 1870 he was no longer an essayist, but a philosopher of great stature. Aft the untimely deaths of John Adams and Benjamin Franklin society needed an authority, someone to emulate. A virtually unknown Emerson was now in control. People wanted to know more about the man that believed everyone is under the constant bombardment of balancing forces. As a philosopher of great stature, Emerson was now a literary authority now responsible for screening the works of many. He could now solicit his thoughts and theories upon masses of writers wanting his guidance. This chain of events, consequently not only would reshape the standards of writing but also conform the psyche of many to the mortal limitations of one man. Writers began to write in the voices of transcendentalist and naturalist, with the freedom of nature and the contour of religion literature would never be the same. (Wilson 456)
As the style of writing changed so did the norm of society. Through literature, society constantly compensated with the changing of the times. As the rhythm of the ages ticked,
Americas cycle of literary renaissance created an era of genius through establishment. (James 239)
As a writer Ralph Waldo Emerson helped in the development of America by introducing a unique style and method of perception. He clarified the necessity of a new literary heritage as a means to segregate American literature from the rest of the world, and to encourage the creation of free thought. Leading by example, Emerson aided in the sociological development of the nation, and as a founder of the transcendentalist movement, he emphasized optimistic ways, and individuality. Breaking new ground as a writer and as a transcendentalist, while America was still under construction, Emerson offered guidance and reasoning in a time when many were confused by their rapidly rearranging surroundings. Ralph Waldo Emerson influenced the history of humanity and America, but his impact and contribution to American literature surpass his bestowal of guidance in a time of uncertainty and despair.
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