MP3 Culminating Project Part 1

MP3 Culminating Project Part 1

Published on 30 March 2023
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Transcript
00:00
During the mid to late 1800s, Individualism profoundly affected American literature and caused many extreme social movements to take form, which is revealed through Emerson's transcendentalist essay “Self-Reliance” and Kate Chopin’s feminist novel “The Awakening”.
00:13
One way the idea of individuality affected American literature during this time period is kicking off many more radical versions of individuality, one of which is transcendentalism, a movement encapsulated by Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance.” After giving advice to trust yourself, Emerson tells his audience that
00:28
“Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world,” (Emerson 3).
00:44
Emerson is taking the original idea of individualism like not agreeing with society on everything, but he takes it to the extreme, saying that you should never agree with society and focus on your own mind. Before the idea of transcendentalism, people had the ideas of the enlightenment instilled, which advocated for individualism, but also with a limit. But with transcendentalism, this idea of individualism becomes radical when compared. Soon after this quote, Emerson speaks about how people are, by nature, scared to disappoint people after they promise something, where he then tells the reader that
01:12
“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today,” (Emerson 7).
01:31
Emerson is not only advocating for saying what you think at the moment, an idea not too extreme when it comes to individualism, but he is also saying that consistency is foolish. This idea is completely contradicted by the enlightenment, where many of the main proponents of the movement like Benjamin Franklin, had a strict schedule that they followed for any reason like moral improvement. This quote proves that transcendentalism was heavily influenced by individualistic movements like the enlightenment and it warped these i deas into more extreme ideals during the time period.