IJLLL 2017 Vol.3(3): 110-117 ISSN: 2382-6282
DOI: 10.18178/IJLLL.2017.3.3.119

Cyclical Nature Images as Representations of Freedom and Fulfillment in Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman

Sharon Zelnick
Abstract—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman depict a removal of the boundary between man and nature. This imagined coalescence between humanity and the earth is portrayed through a unique fusion of form and content. Emerson’s Nature (1836), Thoreau’s “Walking” (1862), and Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1855) illuminate the vision of breaking down the boundary between man and nature through their combinations of sentiment and style. While many critics have focused on Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman’s explicit programmatic statements about connecting with nature, I will focus on the ways in which this message is conveyed by their use of metaphor, simile, and symbolic imagery. Through a comparative analysis of their uses of the cyclical nature images water and sun, I will attempt to elucidate the intricate differences and similarities between their conceptions of freedom and fulfillment. I will investigate how each author’s treatment of these nature images provides a window of understanding their perspectives on the ways the spirit flows through the self – whether freedom is attained in complete isolation or in the company of others – and the place of divinity in nature.

Index Terms—Transcendentalism, nature imagery, freedom, fulfillment, cyclical images, water and sun.

Sharon Zelnick is with Leiden University, Netherlands (e-mail: sharontzelnick@gmail.com).

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Cite:Sharon Zelnick, "Cyclical Nature Images as Representations of Freedom and Fulfillment in Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman," International Journal of Languages, Literature and Linguistics vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 110-117, 2017.

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