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The Symbolism of Nature in American Literature

The Symbolism of Nature in American Literature

Throughout American Literature, many authors use the symbol of nature to correspond with the tone of their main characters. Good and attractive nature seems to reflect the good events happening in a characters life. Bad and repulsive nature imitates the bad events happening in a characters life. Going back to the times of transcendentalists and up to the more modern age views, it is common to see the author use nature as a major symbol of their story. Although nature is used frequently as a key symbol, the authors of the 18th and 19th centuries use this imagery differently than that of contemporary authors.

In the 1840’s, the transcendentalism movement was created. Transcendentalism is the idea of man relating himself with nature. These people believe that God expresses himself through nature and if these people relate themselves to nature then they are relating themselves to God. This movement was started by a group of intellectuals led by Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a preacher who felt strongly about this movement and was very outspoken about it. Emerson believed in freedom from every one else and would often celebrate this. He hated common organized religion and felt that faith should be an individual subject. Transcendentalists believe that all men start out good and that everyone has the ability to work up to a perfect life. Emerson believed that all men have the ability to achieve this perfection if they follow their own path and work up to their own set beliefs. A man that can’t follow his own path has no way to achieve this perfection because if he can’t believe in himself then there is no way for him to continue on his path to perfection. Emerson says, “ As soon as the man is one with God, he will not beg”(Self- Reliance, 33). If a man can follow his path than he will be one with God.

Emerson uses nature to help find his God. He does not use it to get away from the world. He believes that if he uses the world he can find his God and he can find his faults. Emerson says:

Nature suffers nothing to remain...

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