1) What is Transcendentalism?
Transcendentalism is defined as a philosophical and social movement, that originated in New England around the mid 1800s, caused by rationalism. Being mainly influenced by romanticism, it said that god and relations to god existed throughout everything in our society. This philosophy was pushed mainly by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.
Emerson and Thoreau both wrote of escaping society and it norms and stereotypes. Emerson was around first and wrote what he thought needed to practiced and learned by others. Thoreau, who came later, was inspired by Emerson's writing and began to practice what he wrote about.
In Emerson's story, Nature, he states that when he went into solitude, to attempt tranquility. To Emerson, transcendentalism is about freeing yourself from society's hold backs, and to explore nature for yourself.
Overall, transcendentalism is an idea that society does not allow individuals to be exactly what they want, because of certain regular behaviors expected. So, it states that going to be isolated and alone will help you become free of all of that.
2) Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an author that lived around the mid 1800s, that wrote mainly of transcendental ideas and beliefs. He wrote of individualism, self-reliance, optimism, and intuition. In the story Self-Reliance he says, "... that envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better or worse". Here Emerson is stating that being jealous of others and following what other do is not good will end up killing your own thoughts and personality. He is saying that you must be your own person, live individually, in order to actually live. He also says "but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude." In this quote he is saying that a man within a crowd of people does not depend on others to bring him company, he provides happiness by keeping to himself and valuing solitude. Emerson talks about optimism when he writes "Yes it is certain that the power to produce this delight does not reside in nature, but in man". The simple beauty of nature cannot create happiness and beauty within a man. He must also be positive and want to willingly experience nature's beauty, by keeping his head up. Finally, intuition is shows through the quote "It needs a divine man to do anything divine. " A man who has the sense and knows what to do, will go about and do it, because of an urge he feels. His intuition will lead him to it, and make sure he will complete it.