Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne were two of the most important writers of the nineteenth century. Both men had a profound influence on American literature, though they differed in many ways. This essay will compare and contrast the two authors’ views on individualism, nature, and religion.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. He came from a long line of ministers; his father and grandfather both served as pastors of the First Church of Boston. Emerson was educated at Harvard University and later became a minister himself. However, he left the ministry after just a few years, feeling that he could not believe in the doctrines of traditional Christianity.
Emerson’s ideas about individualism are perhaps best expressed in his essay “Self-Reliance.” In this work, Emerson argues that each person is responsible for finding his or her own truth and that conformity to societal norms is unnecessary and even harmful. He urges each individual to listen to his or her “inner voice” and to follow its guidance, even if doing so goes against the grain of popular opinion.
Nature was another important theme in Emerson’s writing. In his essay “Nature,” Emerson argues that humans can find God in nature and that a close relationship with the natural world is necessary for spiritual growth. He believed that all of creation–plants, animals, rocks, and even inanimate objects–contained a spark of the divine.
Emerson’s views on religion were complex. He was critical of traditional Christianity, but he also believed that humans needed some kind of spiritual belief to live fully. In his essay “The Over-Soul,” Emerson wrote that all people are connected to one another and to the universe as a whole by an unseen force that he called the Over-Soul. He believed that it was possible to commune with this higher power through prayer and meditation.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. Like Emerson, Hawthorne came from a long line of ministers; his great-great-grandfather had been one of the judges at the Salem witch trials. Hawthorne too was educated at Harvard University, though he did not enter the ministry like Emerson. Instead, he became a writer.
Hawthorne’s most famous work, The Scarlet Letter, is set in Puritan New England and explores the psychological effects of sin and guilt. The novel’s protagonist, Hester Prynne, is an outcast from society because she has committed adultery. Hawthorne uses Prynne’s story to criticize the harshness of the Puritan legal system and to explore the complex nature of human morality.
Like Emerson, Hawthorne believed that each person is responsible for finding his or her own truth. However, unlike Emerson, Hawthorne was not optimistic about humans’ ability to do so. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne writes that “human nature will not flourish” without the guidance of religious faith. He believed that humans are fallen creatures, capable of great evil as well as great good.
Hawthorne also differed from Emerson in his views on nature. For Hawthorne, nature was not a source of divine truth, but rather a place where humans could escape the strictures of Puritan society. In The Scarlet Letter, the forest is a refuge for Hester and her lover, Dimmesdale, where they can be free from the judgment of their community. For Hawthorne, then, nature was a place of both physical and spiritual liberation.
Finally, Hawthorne’s views on religion were more traditional than Emerson’s. While Emerson rejected many of the doctrines of Christianity, Hawthorne still considered himself a devout Christian. He believed that humans needed the structure and guidance of organized religion to live morally upright lives.
In summary, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne were two important writers of the American Renaissance. They shared some beliefs, including a belief in the importance of the individual and the power of nature. However, they also had some significant differences, particularly in their views on religion. These different perspectives led them to produce very different kinds of writing.
In the mid-nineteenth century, transcendentalism is regarded as a major period in American literature. It produced several of America’s most well-known authors. Transcendentalism is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a thought that emphasizes the primacy of the spiritual and transcendental over the material. That implies spirituality was more important than worldly goods. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne are two well-known writers who emerged during this era.
Ralph Waldo Emerson believed in self-reliance, or the idea that you should rely on yourself and your own intuition rather than the opinions of others. This is a very important idea because it helps people to be independent and to think for themselves.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, on the other hand, believed in original sin, or the idea that humans are born with a sinful nature. This is an important idea because it helps people to understand why humans do bad things and how they can overcome their sinful nature.
Both of these ideas are still relevant today. Ralph Waldo Emerson is considered one of the most important authors in American history, and Nathaniel Hawthorne is considered one of the most important authors in American literature. These two men had different ideas about life, but they both had a profound impact on American culture.
Emerson was a transcendentalist, and his works contain many features of this era. The oodness of mankind, individuality, and nature are three others. Hawthorne, on the other hand, was not a transcendentalist. The manner in which he addressed the same three issues in his writings demonstrates why he is a non-transcendentalist. Nature was an extremely important topic for transcendental writing. Emerson frequently wrote about being one with nature.
He felt that by being one with nature, he was also one with God. This is seen in many of his poems such as “Nature”, “The Rhodora”, and “Fable”. In all of these poems, Emerson speaks of how everything in nature is a representation of God. For example, in “Nature” Emerson states, “The world is emblematic. Parts answer to parts, and simulacra to simulacra.” In other words, everything in the natural world has a greater meaning and purpose. It is not just a pretty picture or a place to go for a walk.
To Emerson, nature was sacred. Hawthorne’s view on nature was very different from Emerson’s. Hawthorne did not believe that nature was sacred. He believed that it was something to be conquered. This is seen in his story “The Great Stone Face”. In this story, the protagonist, Ernest, wants nothing more than to conquer the stone face. The stone face represents nature and all that it encompasses.
To Hawthorne, nature was something to be overcome, not something to be one with. Emerson believed that mankind was good. This is seen in his essay “Self-Reliance”. In this essay, Emerson states, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men-that is genius.”