Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism

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Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism

Post  Emily Y on Tue May 12, 2009 11:25 pm

Although Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne are both Anti-Transcendentalists, both of their books focus and explore the inner world of humans, a massive part of the Transcendentalist beliefs. Hawthorne enters each character and reveals how each character deals with the burden of guilt. Melville touches on Ahab's deeper reasons for the persistent chase of Moby-Dick. Herman Melville also has the very Transcendentalist focus of nature in Moby-Dick. Melville often mentions the movements of the sea and the wind. Also, animals play a large role in the story.
However, Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne are only Anti-Transcendentalists with some Transcendentalist characterstics. Afterall, nothing can be black-and-white and only retain characteristics of one type of person or one belief. Readers can tell that Melville and Hawthorne are Anti-Transcendentalists later on in their stories. Hawthorne explores the depths of our inner world, but the conclusion he arrives at is that humans are innately evil while Transcendentalists believe in the innate good in humans. Altogether, he seems to have a rather negative outlook on life, pessimistic and gloomy. Melville displays a tragic story, one where the main character does not succeed in his quest. Unlike the Transcendentalist view mentioned by Emerson that people have unlimited potential and therefore can achieve anything, Melville's negative ending of Ahab's failure and resulting death seems to say quite the contrary. Also, unlike Thoreau's portrayal of nature as a caring, loving sort of higher intelligence, Melville describes nature as an angry, destructive force. While Melville and Hawthorne seem to cover their world with a veil of darkness and evil, Thoreau and Emerson seem to, on the other hand, shine a light of wisdom, hope, and optimism.
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Emily Y

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Re: Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism

Post  Joshua on Tue May 12, 2009 11:54 pm

Emily, i totally agree with you. There is nothing that can be absolutely black or white. THerefore, for there is optimism and light, there is also risk, danger, and pessimism. Because of the different beliefs they have different perceptions, and different concerns. This creates differernt focuses on life and as a result different conclusions. These beliefs that are discussed are totally subjective
and is impossible to neither prove nor disprove whether one belief is valid or not. As a result, one my be both transcendentalist and anti-transcendentalist depending upon time and situations.
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Re: Transcendentalism and Anti-Transcendentalism

Post  Rose on Fri May 15, 2009 10:01 pm

One of the most difficult things to do on a forum for a newbie is to come in on someone else's discussion so I hope no one minds if I comment here.

Melville displays a tragic story, one where the main character does not succeed in his quest. Unlike the Transcendentalist view mentioned by Emerson that people have unlimited potential and therefore can achieve anything.

This to me has to do with positive and negative thinking and beliefs. Not that either is wrong. The views expressed come from each person's particular view point and perspective. Neither is right or wrong or good or bad.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and so is hate. It's our own perception of the situation that determines who is right and who is wrong. Nothing is wrong until we make the decision that it is.

Also, unlike Thoreau's portrayal of nature as a caring, loving sort of higher intelligence, Melville describes nature as an angry, destructive force. While Melville and Hawthorne seem to cover their world with a veil of darkness and evil, Thoreau and Emerson seem to, on the other hand, shine a light of wisdom, hope, and optimism.

This convinces me even more that we do create our own reality. Each person sees the world through their own perception and expectations. If we get right down to it, we do not see or experience the real world. We only see and experience our own idea of this world.
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