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Ralph Waldo Emerson Research Papers

Ralph Waldo Emerson research papers discuss any aspect of the poet or his works. Our literature writers can focus on Emerson's poetry or his life. Many research papers also discuss his belief systems and his philosophy.

American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) is one of the leading figure of the Transcendentalist movement of the mid 19th century. His best-known work remains his essay “Self-Reliance,” but his numerous other essays and lectures inspired many others, including Henry David Thoreau. Emerson was, however, the leader of the Transcendentalist movement, expressing ideas of individuality and freedom in an increasingly commercialized world.

ERalph Waldo Emersonmerson was born in Boston, the son of a Unitarian minister. In 1817, he entered Harvard College, graduating in the middle of his class at the age of 18. After graduation, he made his living as a schoolteacher, later attending Harvard Divinity School. He was briefly married, and his wife’s death caused him to question the church. Traveling to Europe, he met several English Romantic poets, including William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who greatly influenced Emerson’s thinking.

In 1836 he founded the Transcendental Club, around the same time his literary career took off. In 1837 he met Thoreau, and the two became fast friends. Following his “Divinity School Address” in 1838, Emerson was denounced as an atheist. “Self-Reliance” appeared in 1841. During the Civil War he was an outspoken critic of slavery, meeting Lincoln in the White House. Ralph Waldo Emerson died in 1882 from pneumonia, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

Emerson promoted these ideals in that he advocated for each person to do the following:

  1. Be himself
  2. Believe in himself
  3. Stand up for his personal beliefs and attitudes.

By focusing on his individuality, Emerson believed that man would experience more personal satisfaction. He wrote in “The Poet” that “all men live by truth, and stand in need of expression”.

Emerson focused on individuality and independence in many of his works. Specifically, in “Self Reliance” Emerson stated “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide...”. Therefore, Emerson advocated for nonconformity, for believing in oneself, instead of the wisdom of the crowd.

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