09/30/12: Nature: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, Nature, effectively claims Nature to possess an atmosphere of influence over man. Initially, Emerson states how nature “… never wears a mean appearance.” Meaning, nature is not prejudiced toward a specific culture or social status. Instead, nature removes all arrogance and tribulations of men and replaces them with reason and faith in tranquility. Furthermore, Emerson encourages his audience to escape their social “chambers” in society and to “… look at the stars” as guidance to their own purpose in life. Symbolically, nature becomes interchangeable with God as a gateway between heaven and Earth. Since “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit,” depending on a person’s attitude, one may find beauty or tragedy within nature.

Emerson continues to introduce Commodity in relation to nature by humorously criticizing man’s selfishness for possessions. For example, Emerson states, “What angels invented these splendid ornaments, these rich conveniences…?” While crudely mocking the oblivious in society, the point Emerson presents is how man is so naïve to appreciate nature’s “divine charity.” In essence, society seeks to exploit nature’s scarce resources for the “profit of man.”  Emerson continues to comment how the speed of innovation has accelerated quickly to the industrial age while nature becomes obsolete along the process.

Ultimately, Emerson illustrates that Beauty is found between nature and man. For instance, nature rejuvenates individuals when they become exposed to “their eternal calm.” These individuals begin to find their identity amidst their exhaustion. Emerson continues to declare that beauty is a mark of God’s virtue and a relation to thought. Specifically, it is noted that splendor can never cease to exist, at least not mentally. As a result, one cannot put a limit on expressions of beauty.


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