Nathaniel Hawthorne and Transcendentalism

            Nathaniel Hawthorne and Transcendentalism.

             Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American writer, was born in Salem, Massachusetts on July 4, 1804. His widowed mother raised him until she sent him to school at Bowdain College, where he decided he wanted to become a writer. This dream of his finally came true in 1837, when he first established himself as a writer.

             Hawthorne was a man strongly influenced by his Puritan heritage. He was a man of very strong opinionated, but sometimes changing beliefs. At first, Hawthorne seemed to even share some of the same beliefs of the great Transcendentalist, Ralph Emerson. He joined a Transcendentalist community called Brook Farm, but later decided he had different views and left Brook Farm. He then decided to become an anti-Transcendentalist.

             To truly grasp why Hawthorn became opposed to Transcendentalism, one must observe what Hawthorne found erroneous with the School of Thought. Transcendentalism philosophy addresses God not as a person, but rather as a spiritual force, which encompasses everything and everyone. The spirit does not originate from a single divine being but instead streams throughout Nature. This causes a person to become involved with divine potentials. Each individual person gains access headed for the spiritual force by coming in contact with the goodness and beauty of Nature. Each of these individuals holds reason, and can exceed to the higher plane of understanding. People of transcendentalism believe that insight is the ultimate form of reason. They feel that one's own instincts are the ultimate truth because impulse and urge are the divine authority. This makes individualism very significant and causes people to seek their own path to God. Basically, this means that Transcendentalism depends on a complete faithfulness to the self. .

             This approach is very autonomous because it is maintaining the idea that internal authority has more power over external authority (Hart 570).

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