How can I identify the elements of transcendentalism in Emerson's "Nature"?

To identify elements of transcendentalism in Emerson’s "Nature," look for quotes that underscore the liberating, divine power of the natural world. For example, Emerson writes, “We know more from nature than we can at will communicate." Here he suggests that experiences in the natural world teach humans much more than they could learn in the material world.

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Transcendentalism borrowed heavily from English Romanticism in locating the divine force in nature. Following the lead of Wordsworth and other romantic poets, Transcendentalists like Emerson privileged the wisdom, new ideas, and solace to be found in the natural world and in one's own soul over book learning and the advice of human institutions.

Emerson's essay is transcendental in urging people to become one with God and all of the universe by communing with the natural world. He forcefully asserts the importance of individuals gaining direct experience from the world as their ancestors did rather than relying on the "dry bones of the past."

Emerson is also transcendental in this essay by, like the Romantics, valuing the experiences of early childhood, which he calls "infancy" (infancy meant early childhood in his time), as purer and closer to the eternal source of the Godhead than adulthood. He writes that the wise person never loses the memory of how he experienced the world as a child, stating:

Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit. The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected all the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood.

Transcendentalists like Emerson used the Romantics' emphasis on nature and the rejection of the traditions of the past to help forge a new American identity for a still young nation. They wanted to wean Americans from reliance on European traditions and institutions. They did not want Americans to feel inferior for lacking the long history of European nations (of course, they did not include Native history, except in romanticized tidbits, as part of the national past). They believed that Americans could use the natural world, relying on direct experience to forge a better, purer future.

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One of the most prominent elements of transcendentalism that is evident in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Nature” is the discussion about the power of the natural world. Transcendentalists taught that nature was the place where humans can think for themselves and tap into their inherent divine wisdom. For instance, consider how Emerson writes,

nature, whose floods of life stream around and through us

The notion that the power of nature flows through humans is a very transcendentalist idea. Emerson spends a great deal of time writing about how this connection to something as beautiful as nature can be restorative for humans. For example, he says:

To the body and mind which have been cramped by noxious work or company, nature is medicinal and restores their tone.

In this quote, Emerson suggests that the beauty of nature has the power to bring humans back to their true selves, which have been lost in the material world. This speaks to the transcendentalist idea that the natural world is more powerful and more important than the material world.

Emerson expands on this idea of the importance of the natural world when he writes that

Nature is a discipline of the understanding in intellectual truths.

This means that despite all of the logic and rationality involved in industrialism, nature is the place where people can learn about what is truly important and true in life. Not only does Emerson say people can learn about the world from nature, but he says that

We know more from nature than we can at will communicate.

This suggests that experiences in the natural world transcend the capabilities of experiences in the material world.

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Five predominant elements of Transcendentalism are nonconformity, self-reliance, free thought, confidence, and the importance of nature. These concepts are liberally sprinkled throughout Emerson's essay "Nature." 

When Emerson says that we should "demand our own works and laws and worship," he espouses nonconformity. 

Free thought is similar to nonconformity. Emerson encourages readers to avoid doing what their peers or predecessors do; rather, they should think for themselves. In the introduction, he bemoans the fact that "speculative men are esteemed unsound and frivolous." This suggests he values speculation, or free thought.

In Chapter 1, Emerson asserts that, as long as he has nature, he can be complete. His belief that "in the woods ... nothing can befall me in life" shows self-reliance and confidence. 

The key tenet of Transcendentalism displayed in "Nature" is the importance of nature. That is what Emerson is writing about, after all. He begins by stating in the introduction that "all science has one aim, namely, to find a theory of nature." In Chapter 1, he discusses the stars and how we take them for granted, but that they nevertheless "awaken a certain reverence." He suggests that, although no one "owns the landscape," the poet who appreciates it possesses it in a sense. He says that nature can produce "a wild delight" in a man even amid sorrows. He becomes eloquent when describing the effect of the woods on him. It makes one feel perpetually young, and "all mean egotism vanishes." He feels as if he is "part or particle of God" when he is out in nature. 

To identify elements of Transcendentalism in "Nature," keep looking for expressions of nonconformity, free thought, self-reliance, confidence, and the supremacy of nature.

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One of the major elements of Transcendentalism is the idea that nature and the person (each person) are really part of each other.  Transcendentalism says that you cannot separate the two from each other.  If you are talking solely about the chapter entitled "Nature" from Emerson's larger book (also entitled "Nature") this is the only aspect of Transcendentalism that is discussed.

You can see this very clearly in Emerson's essay.  He argues that there are two parts of the universe.  There is the self (each person's self) and there is nature (everything else).  He argues that the two of them are linked together inextricably.  As Emerson says in the essay:

Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

This shows that he sees himself as part of nature and that nature is part of him.

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