Ralph Waldo Emerson Essays The American Scholar

His speech served as the inspiration for many future American writers, artists, and philosophers to create their own ideas, without regard to Europe and its antiquated traditions.To this end, Emerson uses literary devices to make various points in support of his overall theme. "But unfortunately, this original unit, this fountain of power [which is society], has been so distributed to multitudes, has been so minutely subdivided and peddled out, that it is spilled into drops, and cannot be gathered.As Buell remarks, “Even though [Buckminster] was not actually a saint it is possible to understand how he might have passed for one with an audience looking for charisma, polish, learning, and good morals” (.

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Through these metaphors, Emerson is telling all people who call themselves scholars that in order to become real men—real human beings—they need to confirm their existence through action.“The true scholar grudges every opportunity of action past by, as a loss of power.”300 Emerson also places a value on action.“The final value of action…is, that it is a resource.”301 Through action man has transformed himself into Man Thinking.“The american scholar” descends to us as literature, but for the more than two hundred auditors who filled the First Parish Church in Cambridge on August 31, 1837, as for the speaker himself, the address was a singular dramatic occasion.“An event without any former parallel in our literary annals,” James Russell Lowell recalled years later: “What crowded and breathless aisles, what windows clustering with eager heads, what enthusiasm of approval, what grim silence of foregone dissent!” In the provincial Boston world of 1837, Lowell's “event” — a picturesque memory exhumed from the literary scrapbook and fondly patronized — gave promise of being an “event” in Michel Foucault's sense as well: “not a decision, a treaty, a reign, or a battle, but the reversal of a relationship of forces, the usurpation of power, the appropriation of a vocabulary turned against those who had once used it.” “The young men went out” from the church, remarked Oliver Wendell Holmes, “as if a prophet had been proclaiming to them, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’” As Rush Welter observes, “During the early years of the [nineteenth] century, men who were fearful of social change had looked to the activity of college graduates to counteract untoward developments.This was especially the case in New England, where Phi Beta Kappa orators and other college spokesmen celebrated both the claims educated men had on their country and the responsibility they acquired to lead it. [T]hey appealed to educated men to act as the conscience of the republic and described a political elite whose influence would depend less on their scrabbling for votes than on their power to sway the multitude.” .He further on continues to state how books “They look backward and not forward. The eyes of man are set in his forehead, not in his hind head.”298 Emerson thus believes that all men have the capacity of being a genius. Genius creates.”298 But, Emerson does not encourage people to be genius because the “Genius is always the sufficiently enemy of the genius by over-influence.”298 Emerson believes that “books are for the scholar’s idle times”298 and the only subjects that he should learn from reading are history and exact science. “Action is with the scholar subordinate, but it is essential.Without it, he is not yet man… inaction is cowardice, but there can be no scholar without the heroic mind.”299 Emerson wants the scholar to learn but question everything.Certainly, Emerson’s promotion of a uniquely American scholarship influenced a generation of American scholars—and continues to influence scholars until this day.is to call on American scholars to create their own independent American literature and academia—separate from old European ties of the past.


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