In "Nature" what are three ways the woods can transform a man?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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First, he says that the woods make us young again, no matter what age we are.

Second, he says that being out in the woods makes us go back to our reason and our faith.

Finally, being in the woods makes a man realize that he is part and parcel of nature -- that he and the "vegetable" share something in common.  This is an expression of one of the major ideas of Transcendentalism -- that people are a part of nature and that everything in the universe is interconnected.

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The first way that the woods can transform a man is by turning him back into a child.  Not literally of course, but the woods can restore the child like wonder in a man.  

"In the woods too, a man casts off his years,........., is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth."

I totally agree.  I think it's why many people, myself included, love to go camping and hiking.  I have three young children, and they are really big into exploring the mountain trails behind our house.  I have to go with them, but all of the imaginary sneaking and hunting that we do is great fun.  It doesn't even feel stupid to me.  I feel like a kid all over again.  

The second thing that the woods do to transform a man is to give us a spiritual awakening.  

"In the woods, we return to reason and faith."

Coming from Emerson, that is no surprise.  He's a transcendentalist, which is basically an extreme romantic.  A person's communing with Nature can grant knowledge that is transcended from a higher power.  God is in nature, man can be in nature; nature, man, and god can be one together.  That sounds a little crazy, but even Christians have similar beliefs.  Special revelation is the Bible, and God's general revelation is found through studying the creation.  

The third way that the woods are trans-formative is that they make a man realize that he is a part of the whole creation.  A man isn't above it; a man is an integral part of nature.  A cog in the system if you will.  

"The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relationship between man and vegetable." It imparts a sense of importance to our existence, while the realization of a higher power transcends our thoughts."

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gsenviro's profile pic

gsenviro | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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According to Emerson's essay "Nature," woods have a profound effect on man.

Firstly, the woods transform us back into a child as they provide eternal youth. "In the woods too, a man casts off his years,........., is always a child. In the woods, is perpetual youth."

According to Emerson, woods impart reason and faith to us by making us feel part of a larger body, God, and thus make mundane feelings and worries seem pointless. "In the woods, we return to reason and faith."

Thirdly, the woods also provide a sense of the harmonious relationship between nature and man. "The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relationship between man and vegetable." It imparts a sense of importance to our existence, while the realization of a higher power transcends our thoughts.

Sources:

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