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Transcendentalism was a literary movement during the first half of the 19th century The philosophical theory embraces aspects of self-examination the celebration of individualism and the belief that the fundamental truths existed outside of human experience Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803-1882 and Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 were key figures of American Transcendentalism expressed the challenge to all the forces of age tradition stability custom and prescribed authority As loyal individualists Emerson and Thoreau emphasized defending the right of each person to follow his own conscience A theme common to Thoreaus Walden and Emersons Self-Reliance is the importance of self-discovery and Individualism This paper will attempt to juxtapose the two works by examining the extent to which Emerson and Thoreau share similar outlooks and what differences can be discerned while discussing the important theme its role and significance to each work Within the introductions of Self-Reliance and Walden it can be concluded that Emerson and Thoreau advocate their works with a similar outlook or way of life Both authors share the common belief of self-discovery and individualism In Self-Reliance Emerson proposes a code for living and Thoreaus Walden chapter one Economy is explained to mean a philosophy of Living Although both authors advocate their works with a similar outlook they imply different intentions and instructions for the readers In Self-Reliance Emerson encourages the reader to free himself from the constraints of conformity and give himself over to their own nature and later suggests the reader to live by his philosophy He admits his ideas may not be the most popular or easy for those who choose to follow by stating For non-conformity the world whips you with its displeasure Norton 554 Yet at the same time he continues to state the satisfaction of living a free life from conformity by arguing Your genuine action will explain itself and will explain your other genuine actions Your conformity explains nothing Act singly and what you have already
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