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AP English 11
12 January 2003
What is transcendentalism? It is the belief that everyone is naturally good but society makes people evil. It is where divinity can be found in nature and in each person. It is where intuition and the individual conscience transcend experience and thus are better guides to truth than the senses. Does Emily Dickinson believe in transcendentalism? Emily has made it clear that she is a transcendentalist through many of her poems.
In the poem The Brain—is Wider than the Sky, Dickinson writes about the effects that nature has on humanity. Through this poem, she portrays the triangle of God, Humanity, and Nature, which transcendentalists believed was the necessary existence of life. She states that “The brain is wider than the sky”, or in other words, humanity is wider than nature, that “The brain is deeper than the see”, and that “The brain is just the weight of God”. Humanity will absorb and contain nature, and from God, “they will differ- if they do- as a syllable from sound”. This poem portrays the idea that one of these aspects of life cannot exist without the other two.
In her poem Water, is taught by thirst, Dickinson is depicting the transcendental belief that there can be no good without evil and vice-versa. It is evident in her poem when she states things such as “Transport—by throe”, and “Peace—by its battles told”. In these two particular lines she is stating that there is no happiness without the pain you went through to get there and that there is no peace without earning it through a great battle. There is always a bad or negative with the good. Dickinson says that the one thing that mankind desires, needs, wants, or loves came from the opposite of that particular object. This does not mean, however, that that certain object are specifically good or bad, just that its origination came from its opposite.
Dickinson’s belief in the importance of solitude and individualism ...
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