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Transcendentalism and Romanticism in American Literature. English III College Prep Mrs. Snipes. Transcendentalism Defined:.
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English III College Prep
Intuition = the direct perception of truth, fact, etc. independent of any reasoning process; a keen and quick insight.Reason & Intuition
Transcendentalism emphasized the idea that individuals should act according to their innermost personal beliefs, or spiritual convictions, rather than the dictates of society.Tenets of Transcendentalism:
They emphasized the beauty and importance of the natural world.
They believed that by contemplating objects in nature the individual could transcend this world and discover union with God and the Ideal.
The Fulfillment of human potential was attainable through mysticism and communion with nature.The Role of Nature:
Material objects, therefore, mirror or reflect and ideal world.
Transcendentalism arose in reaction/ opposition to Rationalism, a theory that the reason in itself is a source of knowledge superior to sensory perceptions.
Transcendentalists thought that Rationalism, from which modern science had sprung, denied the profound sense of mystery found in nature and humanity.
The American Revolution left a nation of loosely connected states the very real task of creating a workable democracy.
Most Transcendentalists were, by nature, reformers, but these reforms were attempts to regenerate the human spirit, rather than to prescribe to particular movements.
Social conformity, materialism, commercialism, and what they believed to be a lack of moral commitment angered and frustrated the transcendentalists.
As basic American values were threatened by encroaching industrialization, reform groups sprang up.
Support for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery became popular at this time.Political & Social Landscape:
Transcendentalists such as Thoreau believed that humankind could find truth and happiness in nature.
The economists of the day disagreed, believing that, rather than preserving nature, it was more important for people and government to advance human commerce.
America’s westward expansion increasingly attracted immigrants from all over the world.
Yet, there were some serious side effects of this progress: harsh working conditions and ugly mill towns were reflections of the nations growing industrialization.
Skilled craftsmen were replaced by machines tended by lower paid women and children.
Children were working 10-12 hours a day in factories and no longer had the freedom to pursue an education or develop their potential.