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from Self-Reliance (Emerson)


Generalized critique of social conformity, uniformity, congeniality, in favor of self reliance/independence/freedom.

-Hatred of consistency because it leads to boredom and lack of action which then causes things to not progress, technologically, artistically, ect.
-Rebellion against traditional society/notions of conformity, including traditional philosophical, religious, and cultural
-Individual is the most important, not society as a whole
-Intellectual self reliance, do not base ideas off of society or institutions, trust in oneself


"There is a time in.... to him to till"
-Main point of the entire article/paragraph, you cannot rely on others for anything.

"Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members."
-Society is a negative on the individual, and serves to stifle new ideas

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines."
-A very good aphorism and summary of his thesis

"no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till"
-If you want something done right you have to do it yourself, and cannot trust anyone else to do things.

from Fate (Emerson)

1. Thesis: Nature is limited by man and a man's power is limited by nature
  • Nature has limitations which is Fate
  • Link between power and people
  • Man a nature go together (sack in sack) link and chain
  • Ultimate power of life is nature

2. Memorable quotes
  • “But nature is no sentimentalist- does not cosset or pamper us”
  • “so far as man thinks, he is free”

3. Rhetorical strategies
  • Pathos
  1. Talks about how nature can kill take life
  2. Nature is really powerful when it wants to follow its course

4.Transcendentalist ideas
  • They think that nature has human capabilities
  1. nature choses to do things and choses the fate of everything
  2. personification of nature
  3. nature is almighty power over all
  4. puppet master of human cycle

from Nature (Emerson)

- Nature reveals the importance of the connection to a greater whole.

Memorable Images
- "I have become a transparent eyeball... the currents of he Universal Being flow through me."
- "In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature."
- "Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight under a clouded sky..."

Notable Rhetorical Strategies
- "In the woods, we return to reason and faith.
  • Juxtaposition (wilderness to reason)

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson (Period 7)

  • We are just as much a part of nature as nature is a part of us.

Evidence of Thesis
  • "Nature is a setting that fits equally well a comic or a mourning piece." Nature fits in all situations just as we are in those situations.
  • "There I feel that nothing can befall me in life...which nature cannot repair." Feels as secure in nature as he might in a place he calls "home."

Memorable Images/ Quotes
  • transparent eyeball- When in nature, one is able to see and feel things that go unrecognized in daily life
  • "In the woods... as the snake [casts off] his slough..."- The snake represents rebirth and renewal. This quote also suggests that nature could provide us with new ideas if we let it.

Rhetorical Strategies
  • "In the tranquil landscape,... man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature." This is one of Emerson's appeals to pathos; man is part of nature and because nature is beautiful, man is beautiful. Because man desires to be beautiful and by exploring nature, he will be able to reach that beauty.
  • "There I feel that nothing can befall me in life...which nature cannot repair." This is an appeal to ethos; People are more likely to believe in the beauty and wonder of nature if they have experienced it firsthand.
  • "I am part or parcel of God." This is another appeal to ethos; relates and extends former quote about being apart of nature. If nature is apart of God and God apart of nature, we are this connected to God as well.

Transcendentalist Ideals
  • Piety Towards Nature- Nature is highly regarded and seen as having the solutions to everything
  • Rebellion against Institutions- In nature, one can leave disgraceful behind characteristics taught in institutions
  • Life is not your own unless you experience it.- "In the woods, too, a man casts off his years..." Within nature, man is able to shed off irrelevant characteristics and embrace the naivety we enjoyed as children.

from "Where I Lived, and What I Lived For" (Walden, Thoreau)

Where I Lived, and What I Lived For (Period 3)
Thesis:"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
His main thesis is simplicity, and he denounces the pattern by which humans intricately weave their lives around enterprises, affairs, public matters, etc. This uncovers the classic transcendental ideal of the emphasis on personal experience. The entire anecdote displays his pleasure that he lived in seclusion, for himself, for nature, and without the travails of everyday matters.
Memorable Images or Quotes (esp. aphorisms) :
  • "Our life is frittered away by detail."
    • Thoreau is trying to convey the message that humans are so preoccupied with labor and involvement in society that they forget to just enjoy the flow of life.

  • "Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!"
  • he makes lots of allusions to Greek mythology, here are two important ones:
    • he puts the "Spartanlike" life on a pedestal. This is an ethical appeal to support his whole thesis in this anecdote. it is a reference to the deliberate simple lives of Spartans a society to whom lots of revere and respect is associated. By living a life of simple truth, he's implying, man could once again resemble this spartan like nature.
    • "Olympus is but the outside of the earth everywhere"
      • he wants people to realize that it is possible to be on earth and reach the ethereal status of Gods, through the abandonment of superfluity and incorporation of the universal spirit in a simple, truthful life connected with oneself and nature.

  • He denounces the hasty conclusion that life=glorifying God. he rebels against the institutions of religion. he wants people to internalize their time, not spend it worshiping a divine figure. their real worship should be in the form of appreciating the universal spirit that they are a part of.
  • Relationship w/ poetry in nature- some people are missing it because they're not living simple lives. few are the ears that can hear the poetry in simplicity.
  • denounces elevation of purpose in institutions (federal government, and the individual)
  • Emphasis on spiritiual experience: "...or if [life] were sublime, to know it by experience."

Where I Lived and What I Lived For- Period 7
Thesis- People should live life by stripping it to its simplest terms and necessities in order to learn about life as opposed to being sucked in by the superficiality of life that prevents introspection.
Main supporting/illustrating evidence-
  • Thoreau believed that preoccupation with insignificant events caused nineteenth-century Americans to overlook important things in life He also felt that technology was a primary cause of distress for nineteenth-century Americans. "Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain."
  • Thoreau thought that we should follow the ways of nature to lead more fulfilling lives.
  • Thoreau felt that each individual has the responsibility to understand and reject the delusions that are too often accepted as truths.
  • He is telling this based on personal experience.
Memorable Images or quotes-
  • “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity”- this is his overlying message.
  • “We do not ride the railroad; it rides upon us.”- We do not use technology, it uses us. It is superficial and not allowing us to work on ourselves.
  • “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately.”- he wished to work on himself.
  • When he moved into the house it was unfinished. Metaphor that he has much to learn. He is not complete.
  • “I wanted to live deep and suck all the marrow of life”- Wanted to live life to its fullest.
  • “And when I came to die, I discovered that I had not lived”- He did not want to discover that he had wasted away his life with superficial things when he died.
  • “Our life is frittered away by detail”- Our lives are filled with not needed superficial things.
Notable rhetorical strategies-
  • clearly states his purpose- to live simple life so he can gain meaning for life.
  • Thoreau constantly distinguishes what life is to what he doesn't want it to be. . He tries to compare life as he knows it with the completely opposite life that he wants to experience.
  • similes- compared to ants and pygmies that have motives with purposes, but the things they do don't benefit themselves in the long run. These compares to our actions we do everyday for the benefit of tomorrow. We do not get to enjoy what’s here now.
  • Repetitions to emphasize his point and convince people to live simply- 1) "Simplify, simplify."- Simplify, Thoreau's message, is thereby etched into the reader's head.
2) "it is error upon error, and clout upon clout..." - shows the repetition of the mistakes that humans make in order to get closer to perfection.
  • Railroad Paradox- there are more lives being lost toiling to make railroad than there are lives benefiting from the creation. “We do not ride on a rail road; it rides upon us.” The paradox is that we think we are getting ahead, but in reality, we are setting ourselves back. Shows we are in a big hurry to waste our lives.
  • Rhetorical Question- Why are we in a hurry to waste our lives?- brings this question to the reader mind so reader willl think about it and realize their flaws.
  • Metaphors- about time and intellect to teach their importance so he can convince to live simply.
Examples of Transcendentalist ideas-
  • References Greek mythology and culture “Olympus” “Spartan like”
  • Wished to learn from nature.
  • Against powerful and superficial Nation- against institutions
  • References German Confederacy- Transcendentalist German roots
  • Wants to publicize and share his knowledge.
  • Rebbelion- rejection of belief that religion is the be all and end all.
  • Personal/ Spiritual enlightening experience- goes out to live alone in nature to discover himself.

from "Spring" (Walden, Thoreau)

Thesis: There is a time of peace innocence, and happiness after every creation. From the death of winter comes the creation of spring and the peace that follows.

Main evidence: The serene scene of the birds on the lake.
Memorable moment: The geese and ducks flying overhead
Notable rhetoric: " ...the change from storm and winter to serene and mild weather from dark and sluggish hours to bright and elastic ones, is a memorable crisis which all things proclaim." This quote may be considered an aphorism.
Transcendentalist ideals: Thoreaus' purpose here is to go away from the town (civilization)

-Humble thoughts of nature
-A single robin
-Geese and ducks flying over head

from "Conclusion" (Walden, Thoreau)

Thesis (Period 7)
  • He left the woods to get rid of repetitiveness and the institution he created
  • Leave path
  • Left for the same reason he came
  • Saw himself conforming to a certain pattern à felt need to leave

Main Supporting/illustrating Evidence
  • Tries to escape institutions
  • Habits

Memorable images or quotes
  • Path
    • He created
    • Earth is impressible by men
  • “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer”
  • ‘The faultfinder will find faults even in paradise”
  • "“The life in us is like the water in the river”
    • Rise and fall

Notable rhetorical strategies
  • Symbolism
    • Bug and applewood tree
      • Bug has been inside applewood tree for 65 years à the tree was cut down, made into table à bug hatched an egg and moved on with his life
      • Even if we spend our life conforming to something, we can still move on and create a purpose to our life
    • "The Life in us is like the water in the river
      • Our lives should be like a river, forever flowing and pushing forward. We should not be stopped or constrained at any point, by some obstacle, in this instance, some institution which constrains us to routine.
      • Water is shapeless and doesn't conform to any traditions or routines. You can't change water from one thing to something else or give it shape because water is constantly flowing and changing just like a river and a transcendentalist person.

Transcendentalist Ideals
  • Personal, spiritual experience
    • “How deep the ruts of tradition and conformity”
      • Likes to make new paths
      • Doesn’t walk along paths of others
  • Rebellion
    • "Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts. God will see that you do not want society.”
    • Leave path he conformed for himself