Nature—both the actual word, as well as images associated with the natural world (animals, trees, the sun and moon, etc) in the works of Edgar Allen Poe and especially Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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The themes of nature are found in many pieces of literature. We saw a movement, where writers were going back to nature, and moving away from what was considered the normal works of writings. Edgar Allan Poe and Ralph Waldo Emerson are just two of the writers moving in this way. 

Ralph Waldo Emerson was big in the Transcendentalism movement. Transcendentalism is a religious and philosophical movement that started in the late 1820' and 30's in the Eastern region of the United States. It was a protest against the general state of spirituality and seen by the church. Emerson wrote Nature in 1836 and he showed us what the movement was about. In the essay, he emphasized on the unity of all manifestations of nature and the perpetual development of all of natures forms toward the highest expression as embodied in man. He stated that we accept traditions of the past instead of experiencing God and nature directly here in the present. He talks about going out into nature and leaving everything of the world behind, to get a real knowledge of God's mighty presence at all times. He said if we would do this, all of the questions of the universe could be answered. Just by experiencing nature and the creation of all things, the answers would come to us, but as adults, we have too many worldly pressures on us, and it might be too late for us to do this. He tells us because of these pressures, we can't see the world this way anymore, unlike children, who can still see nature and God in everything around us. The Transcendentalism movement he was in, is clearly present in the essay. He believed that organized religion and political parties ultimately corrupted the purity of an individual. 

Edgar Allan Poe was a part of the American Romantic movement that was moving towards the return to nature in order to achieve a less sinful state in life and to be purer. Nature is a common theme in Poe's works. Nature can be seen as the good force in his stories and he even demonizes cities, like in The City and the Sea. The city eventually wastes away and sinks into hell. The Raven is another of his works, that uses nature to be the good force. 

Both Emerson and Poe used nature in their works. We can see that the themes and ideals of worldly possessions is killing us and we need to get back to simpler times. They believed that we can find ourselves and God in nature and all the questions we have in this life can be answered if we just take the time to listen.

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