Which one of the three tenets of Transcendentalism is the most stressed Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays "Self-Reliance" and "Nature"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

*The basic tenets of Transcendentalism are these three:

  1. A firm belief that God is present in all aspects of Nature, including every human being (this is the concept of the Over-Soul)
  2. A conviction that through the use of intuition everyone is capable of learning of God's existence 
  3. The belief that all of Nature symbolizes the spirit, and the world is good

—(1) In "Nature," Emerson writes of nature wearing the colors of the spirit, adding that when a person is in communion with nature, he feels the presence of God. He writes that he becomes "a transparent eyeball." Emerson declares that he is part of God (the Over-Soul)

(2) I see all. The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me: I am part and particle of God.

*(3) Emerson writes, "Nature always wear the colors of the spirit."

*The tenet that is most stressed in "Nature" is this third one. Throughout the essay, Emerson expands upon the universality of God's presence in landscapes, sunsets, the woods, the wilderness, and the sky.

—In "Self-Reliance," Emerson exhorts people to trust themselves and be nonconformists.

*(1) Early in this essay, Emerson expresses his belief that the individual has an importance that is divine: "Accept the place the divine Providence has found for you...." This quote, too, stresses that the individual is connected to the Divine.

*This first tenet of Transcendentalism is the only one that is stressed in "Self-Reliance." This essay includes no allusions to nature; instead, it is solely about the importance of the individual and nonconformity: "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."

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Self-Reliance

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