Transcendentalism and Thoreau

4 April 2015
A paper which discusses Henry David Thoreau, his writings and the Transcendentalist Movement.

A paper which introduces and discusses Transcendentalism – a philosophical movement which centered on the divinity of the individual – in Henry David Thoreau’s works, paying particular attention to The Maine Woods, Walden, and A Plea for Captain John Brown. In particular, it discusses how Thoreau’s works fit and do not fit the definition of Transcendentalism, and how he viewed the Brook Farm Experiment – a trial in putting together a Utopian society by a group of New Englanders.
“In his later years, Thoreau became heavily involved with the Underground Railroad, and saving slaves who were running away from the South. His essay “A Plea for Captain John Brown” discusses his life, as well as his Transcendentalism, and his death because of his strong beliefs and work against slavery. This essay does not follow Thoreau’s normal positive outlook on the world, as he has become unhappy with people of the time.

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He is no longer simply a sunny Transcendentalist, who longs for a simpler life, he is unhappy with his fellow man. On the whole, my respect for my fellow-men, except as one may outweigh a million, is not being increased these days.”

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