Ralph Waldo Emerson Discussion Topics

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Ralph Waldo Emerson often employs powerful imagery to support the ideas expressed in his prose. Cite particular examples of this trait in Nature.

What, according to Emerson, are the uses of nature? Is “using” nature an unfortunate term? Would another expression convey his meaning better?

Some students of Emerson’s “The American Scholar” have seen this address as an attempt to define his own vocation. Why in 1837 would he have needed to do such a thing?

How does the style of “Self-Reliance” enforce its theme?

What is the point of Emerson’s reformulation of religious concepts? For instance, what is the effect of his employment of a term like “Oversoul” or “Power” when he appears to be referring to God?

What evidence can you find in Emerson’s writing that he acknowledged the existence and force of evil?