Analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Nature"
Start writing a post

Analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Nature"

Analyzing classic pieces of American literature is something everyone should attempt.

Analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Nature"

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher and poet who sparked the social movement of Transcendentalism around 1836. America around 1836 was expanding industrially and technologically, making huge advances throughout the newly prosperous country. Emerson was special in that, in the very beginning of these advances he could see the possible consequences that these things would have on human divinity with nature. He believed it could separate us from the inspiration that the world of nature inspires around us. He had a quest in his life for unity and self-reliance. His piece, “Nature,” represents the beginning of Transcendentalism, which teaches that divinity is throughout all things in nature and humanity. “Nature” is a thought-provoking essay that describes his abstract thoughts about humanity’s relationship with nature.

At first, he argues for a new approach to understanding nature by defining. How he defines nature is the start of his new approach to how he understands nature. In the universe there is nature and the soul. He states that nature all that is separated from us and then distinguishes nature from art; art being natural objects that humans alter for purposes. Nature refers to essences that are unchanged by humans: space, the flower, and the air. Emerson believes that humanity has lost a bit of curiosity and excitement in creating new things because industrialization and the immense reliability of theories already created and histories about nature rather than observing it on one’s own. He believes in a new approach for understanding nature, by casting out all of human’s outside theories and historian’s teachings and immersing oneself into nature. This gives one a chance to provoke greater insight into the world of nature than ever before. He states that through nature’s forms, it describes its own design, and that other interpretations are not needed to perceive it. This approach differs from the ones in the past by not relying so much on the history of past generation’s beliefs of thinkers and, instead, relies on the new thoughts of people of today and one’s own perceptions of nature by not just accepting past impersonal theories.

When Emerson states the “theory of nature” he means ideas based on principles to explain the world around us, regarding nature. Nature, to Emerson, which is everything that is not humanity and things that are unchanged by humanity. When he discusses the theory of nature he states that scientist have one aim, which is to find a theory of nature, but have been unsuccessful in doing so. Additionally, he mentions that the road to find that truth of the theory of nature has caused much hate and separation between humanity to find a concrete definition or explanation of creation. Therefore, he believes the most abstract truth of the theory of nature is the most practical and true. By using the term theory of nature, Emerson is describing the human desire to make sense of creation and the world around us.

"In the woods, we return to reason and faith." -Emerson

Emerson considers that the relationship between most people and nature is that people take nature for granted. This concept is conveyed when he mentions the stars and how if they only appeared one night in a thousand years the great and amazing impact that the stars would have on humankind. Because they appear every night, people are not as astonished by them as much as they would if the prior were the case. He has a philosophy of seeing things new each day and that all sorts of nature have a beautiful influence, even if they are always present. Another view of how Emerson views humans relationship with nature is that he believes that men own farms and fields but do not own the landscape or scenery. He states that the best part of the farms are the scenery which the land contains for the eye to see and lack actual, earthly documentation of ownership. Nature, Emerson uses the woods for example, brings perpetual youth to humankind and returns the human soul to reason and faith. Furthermore, he states that the sun shines into the eyes of a man but shines into the heart of a child. One who appreciates and sees nature like it is new, as a child would, will experience a never ending feeling of youth. The relationship Emerson describes between nature and people is that of a bond of contemporary tranquility and advanced understanding.

There is evidence of Emerson’s moral or religious beliefs in “Nature” that might have influenced how he views humankind’s relationship to nature. Emerson mentions God when he talks about how he feels in the woods. With vast space and bare ground beneath his feet and blissful air around him he feels as if he is nothing and sees everything. He states, “I am part of a parcel of God.” Which portrays that he is a part of a package of something much more grand and divine than himself: God. So, this shows that his religious belief that God is greater than him and he is nothing but a smaller part of the entire parcel, conveys that he may view nature, like God, is grander. It is his passage to the tranquility God has created through nature in him. Nature can change each day due to the hours but one will see what they feel in nature, for it, “wears the colors of the spirit.” So this, too, gives nature a God-like essence portraying a religious belief of Emerson.

As intelligent readers and Americans, we should treasure critical-thinking literature like Emerson's "Nature." Pieces like these improve our awareness with nature and the world around us, a concept that is dwindling in today's society. Self-reliance and much needed solitude are healthy ways to clear one's mind and feel balanced. Emerson shows us in "Nature" his extraordinary beliefs about humankind and their relationship with nature. Even a progressive minded, independent individual like Emerson still valued and related back his divine experiences to the great creator. Analyzing classic pieces of literature is something everyone should attempt. You never know what you can learn.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.


The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers


Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments