Transcendentalism revealed itself in the beginning of the 19th century with talented writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. These well-educated men brought such ideas as individualism, imagination, and nature to life through their works. Many writers in the transcendentalism period included such characteristics in their pieces. Some of the characteristics are spiritual well being, individualism, nature, and imagination.
There are some that make these characteristics more evident than others are such as, Walden by Henry David Thoreau, I Sit and Look Out by Walt Whitman, and I Hear America Singing also by Walt Whitman. Walden by Henry David Thoreau, was a well-written piece and thoroughly explains and describes nature and the spiritual utopia that comes with it. The bullfrogs trump to usher in the night, this explains the likeness of natures bullfrogs to musical beauty and song. What sort of space is that which separates a man from his fellows and makes him solitary?
I have found that no exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another In response to the men who frequently pester him about loneliness he says this and it clarifies that when one is alone in the wilderness or just solitary in general, far away from the cities, fellow humans, and busy life, he isnt farther away because of the distance there is between he and the other. He insinuates that the mind could distance one from any other more or less than the exertion of ones legs, and that a journey far from civilization could bring two people closer together mentally than ever before.
Like the marmots in the surrounding hills, it closes its eyelids and becomes dormant for three months or more. Here, Thoreau describes the pond in the winter. He describes it as once lively and busy in the fall and summer, now is dormant and still, like a picture. The fish dont scurry about as they did in the frisky winter, but now they just float and are motionless, like the waves that were once evident in the summer months. This work of Thoreaus just describes nature, one of the characteristics that make up transcendentalism.
Walt Whitman was a man who could write about a subject in two opposing ways, but still is the same story in a different perspective. I Hear America Singing is about a man watching, hearing the sounds of the people and their many contributions to society. The song of everyone merrily doing their job and liking it, getting things done with a smile on their face and having an incredible outlook on life. The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing.
This states that each person who is being mentioned is singing, rejoicing to what is his or hers, whether it be their duties as an individual, or life in general. The day what belongs to the dayat night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs. This says that the night is filled with young men singing of their lives, robust and loud with open mouths singing their full, euphonic song of life. This is a piece of a happier outlook on the life of the people all around and of the positive attitudes of many.
Illustrating individualism and showing what one can make of their lives by being themselves and enjoying their own life. I Sit and Look Out is of complete contrast to I Hear America Singing. I Sit and Look Out describes a dark, sad, corrupted, sorrowful world. Whereas I Hear America Singing depicts a brighter and more upbeat society. Walt Whitman uses sad words describing emotion, and just all sorts of corruption imaginable. I see the wife misused by her husband, I see the treacherous seducer of women, Here he paints the picture of the ignored, badly treated wife by her husband, and the wicked, devious, womanizer/ seducer of innocent women.
I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny, I see the martyrs and prisoners. He observes the evil of war, and plague, of famine and tyranny, of helpless prisoners and sufferers. But chooses to be silent, to watch and be silent still. Individualism is illustrated here by him being only that of an individual and not able to put an end to all the sorrow. In conclusion, the transcendentalism period was one of great literary works. Bringing nature, imagination, and individualism to our eyes.
Showing all that nature can bring one to a mental utopia and by making one serene can aid in the mental well rounding of a person. Whitmans works tell us that everyone plays a part in life. And that you can make your experience a good or bad one. Singing and rejoicing of the splendors of life can bring you the pinnacle of your existence. On a darker note however, sitting back and watching as the world is being corrupted and not having anything to do with trying to help the situations makes life unbearable. By Whitmans pieces, I can tell you it is all how you look at life.
The two contrasting pieces show that when you focus on the brighter points of life than you are rarely pestered by lifes predicaments. But when you sit back and dont make the most of your existence you tend to notice the problems a lot easier than one who was enjoying their life would. It just goes to show you that transcendentalism is an important part of American literature and without it we would not realize any of the points brought up in Whitman, or Thoreaus works. These were intelligent men and put their emotions and deep thoughts on paper for us to debate upon or agree with.