Ralph Waldo Emerson Literary Analysis

Published: 2019-06-25 19:17:08
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In our everyday life, building upon relationships, unification of people, as well as the inclusion of deities is vital for human existence. These aspects reveal the essence of beauty of friendship, nature, mans soul, as well as importance of seeking God. Therefore, philosophy is important in our everyday life, and is something that cannot be avoided. Ralph Waldo Emersons literary work, as showcased by Cavanaugh (2002) and Goodmans (2009) articles, The Aeolian Harp: Beauty and Unity in the Poetry and Prose of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emerson and Skepticism: A Reading of "Friendship" respectively, strongly reveals the themes of unity, existence of God, and nature.

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The three themes are intertwined in that, according to Goodman (2009), friendship can be considered as a great unifier, and can also be likened to a servant, which as the author points out, Emerson calls it unity or Over-Soul. Also, as Cavanaugh (2002) asserts, Emersons work show a lot correlation among these themes. For instance, Cavanaugh points out that describes the beauty and unity of the Over-Soul to readers and this is attained via a poetic description. In this case, as per Cavanaugh (2002), as quoted from Emerson, The Over-Soul, defines this spirit as a unity within which each mans particular being is contained and made one with all other(p25). In addition, as Goodman and Cavanaugh works point out, Emerson emphasizes on unity of all nature manifestations, symbolism, and perpetual development of nature towards an expression of an embodied man.

The themes of nature and unity are encapsulated by friendship in the two articles. For instance, friendship is a core aspect when it comes to unity. In most instances, the two are mutually inexclusive. Ideally, as Cavanaugh (2002) asserts, the Aeolian harp is vital for triggering unity and friendship. She points out that the harp is an important tool for imparting the worlds secrets, and plays a significant role in cheering the hearts of friends (p32). Also, it is important to note that the Aeolian harp was used to bring the Emersons together. For instance, as Cavanaugh (2002) notes, Mary Miller Egel, who was a family friend to the Emersons, wrote that they owned a mahogany Aeolian harp. Therefore, this should have triggered unity, which is derived from friendship. Also, it is worth noting that the harp was a too that was used to keep the family together. As Cavanauh notes, the mahogany Aeolian harp had been passed to Lydian by Charles T. Jackson, her brother, and Edward, who was Emersons son, and also, as Edward described, his father loved the sound from the harp. This has been replicated in Cavanaughs (2002) assertion that Ralph Waldo Emerson sent a message to all of humanity that men and women should strive to avoid discord in their lives by appreciating and seeking beauty and unity in nature, as per the Aeolian harp writings. From this, it can be derived that people should seek unity, and one way of doing so is to appreciate nature, such as playing music instruments. These are seen to bring people together, for example, concerts, and thereby helping people to cultivate unity. Therefore, as seen from Cavanaughs work, it is clear that the theme of unity has been covered with the help of promoting use of instruments as tools for initiating friendship and thereby ensuring unity among people.

The Over-Soul according to Cavanaugh (2002), can be considered as a unity where particular beings are contained, and also made one with the others. Therefore, it can be seen that the Over-Soul encompasses all of humanity. Once man accepts and appreciates this Over-Soul, then Deity will shine through him (p25). With celestial light being the Over-Soul, man will no longer weave a shredded life, rather, he will live with divine unity. Therefore, it is clear that the theme of unity is related to the theme of seeking God, which provides evidence that the three themes are strongly interrelated. Evidently, appreciating the existence of a deity, the Over-Soul, then man will have a better life that is characterized by divine unity. Also, as Cavanaugh notes from Emersons work, upholding this, ensures that man appreciates nature. For instance, as Cavanaugh quotes Emerson, perception of natural forms is a delight. Therefore, appreciating nature brings upon unity between man and delight. Delight in this case could refer to happiness. These aspects, according to Cavanaugh (2002), can be held in the precincts of Universal Soul which as the writer points out, the Universal Soul can be translated to justice, freedom, love, and truth. Essentially, according to Cavanaugh (2002), Emerson refers the Universal Soul to reason. In turn, this reason can be viewed as a relationship in which nature becomes spirit. Therefore, this can be seen as unity, whereby, man can only live in freedom, truth, justice, and love. It can be derived that man is unity between nature and spirit, and if one is compromised then truth, love, justice, and freedom will not be upheld as it ruins the unity. This assertion is evident when Cavanaugh (2002) wrote that it arguable that Merlin, who was Emersons poet was once in unity with the spiritual world. It is further written that the poems that Emerson wrote were referred to Merlin, a poet of bardic tradition, whose powers were connected with those in nature (p34). Essentially, being a poet just as Emerson, from Cavanaughs (2002) perspective, is a power in unison with nature. As such, from Cavanaughs perspective, being a poet requires that a person to have a unison with nature. This is true because the more a person understands nature, the more likely that they will be good poets, because it shows that the person has a good understanding of the surroundings, and this knowledge will in turn be replicated in the poetry works.

In alignment to Cavanaughs (2002) assertions, Goodman (2009) went ahead and covered the theme of unity, and in this case being orchestrated by friendship. According to Goodman (2009), as per Emersons previous works, friendship has nothing to do with effort, physical beauty, and worldly accomplishments, rather, it is made of matters of affinity and attraction. Therefore, it can be derived that friendship is indeed some form of unity, defined by attraction between two or more individuals. Just like sisters and brothers are bonded by nature, friendships are unforced and spontaneous. Also, it is vital to note that unity, as Goodmans (2009) work showcases, is friendship comes naturally, it is not forced, rather is comes so easily and softly. In line with this it is imperative to note that Goodman (2009) was inclined to the idea that friendship, or rather unity, is all natural, and therefore it is wrong, as Goodman quotes Emerson for people in Europe to use the current language to describe their friendliness to Jesus. For this reason, according to Goodman (2009), Emerson complains that:

is not the style of friendship and enthusiasm to a good and noble heart, but is appropriated and formal, -- paints a demigod, as the Orientals or the Greeks would describe Osiris or Apollo.....The time is coming when all men will see, that the gift of God to the soul is not a vaunting, overpowering, excluding sanctity, but a sweet, natural goodness, a goodness like thine and mine, and that so invites thine and mine to be and to grow (CW1: 82-3) (p6)

Following this avowal, it is not natural for people to paint people as demigods, and most, importantly, it is not an act of friendship. As per this affirmation it is imperative for people to see God as a gift to the soul as a natural goodness and sweet, which will in turn be rewarding in establishing a unity or friendship with God. As such, when seeking God, unity and friendship are paramount. As such, meeting the theme of unity requires that we form a bond with God and nature. Only then shall we grow together in unison. Ideally, as Emerson holds, Jesus is a divine friend, not foreign, and the current message imparts alienation, fear, and hostility among people. For this reason, in order to promote unity, the conventional understanding has to be changed.

Also, as Goodman (2009) asserts, friendship is dominant to Emersons conception of Christianity, which is equally vital to his art painting conception. However, Goodman (2009) is cautious when describing friendship. He analyses Emersons work which advocates self-reliance. He points out, as per Emerson, people should do their work individually, because that alone, is the condition of being known. For this reason, it is not wise to always rely on friends, as it takes away the equation of friendship because one cannot be recognized. Goodman (2009) also manages to showcase that Emerson recognized the issue of friendship, which spirals down to a feeling companionship and love towards others, and also points out that Emerson wrote that they are in a hierarchy, he discusses the lowest degree of good will but fails to discuss the highest degree of passionate love. Therefore, it can be surmised that in order for unity to be developed, aspects of companionship and love cannot be left out.

Goodman (2009) also goes ahead and assets that a real friend, or unity among friends, is required to be perfectly sincere, just as a person is sincere to himself. This type of friendship can be considered a sort of paradox in nature, and therefore, unity is in itself existing in nature. However, the paradox, as Goodman points out, because everyone is sincere to themselves, this also gives birth to hypocrisy. For this reason, it is clear that even though unity exists in nature, it is not that perfect, and in instances, it may give rise to disappointments. In addition, man alone is a masterpiece of nature, as evidenced by the following assertion as quoted by Goodman:

I who alone am, I who see nothing in nature whose existence I can affirm with equal evidence to my own, behold now the semblance of my being in all its height, variety and curiosity, reiterated in a foreign form; so that a friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature (CW2: 120) (p11).

For this reason, as captured by Emersons work, it is clear that an essential self and friendship, thus unity among friends, are all existent in nature. Also, it is only natural that the closeness between people needs a certain distance, and it should not be physical, for, you shall not come nearer a man by getting into his house. This is because, as Goodman asserts, friendship is a matter, not a will by quoting Emerson, "the uprise of nature in us to the same degree it is in them: then shall we meet as water with water... (CW2: 123-4) (p12). Goodman (2009) also goes ahead and asserts that friendship is encompassed by a union of two large formidable natures, mutually feared and beheld, and deep identity among the two establishes disparities between them. As such, it can be derived that uniqueness of individuals is a source of differences, but this is what unites us, primarily because we need each other in nature. The uniqueness ensures that a person can undertake a certain task which the other person cannot, therefore establishing an all-natural relationship among the two. Just as nature, which is a composition of matter, a society should have different people, yet working as one, which spirals down to the Over-Soul. This is a universal force that unites us all, which exists in nature. Just as Cavanaugh (2009) asserts, it is when man accepts the tide of being which floats us into the secret of nature (p25).

In addition, as Cavanaugh (2002) points out from Emersons poetry, the Over-Soul provides a unifying effect, and when someone does not convey the message of nature, someone else will. For instance, Cavanaugh points that out in Emersons poetry, an Orphic poet, like Merlin, who was sinful and aging, fails...

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