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The Main Suggestions and Ideas of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s "Nature"

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First of all, Emerson states that one must occasionally leave society in order to pursue and appreciate nature: “…a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society”. Emerson reports that in nature, he feels immersed, one with God and that all objects in nature are spiritually connected.

Emerson is using the stars as a symbol of the universe, suggesting that we perhaps foolishly take their perpetual presence for granted and they may subsequently “admonish” us. Because they are currently inaccessible, he describes that this makes them elusive towards people and we thus do not appreciate their guidance and beauty.

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The connection is that Emerson appears to be encouraging us to break our habits in order to pursuit and have a more meaningful connection with nature. Encouraging us to leave our societies, Emerson remarks that “…a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society”. I cannot firmly identify accident but perhaps recurring accidents are needed in order to live a solitary live?

I personally believe that this is a connection to the fact that knowledge is indeed always present but is not immediately accessible as it must be seeken/learnt.

Emerson represents nature as a mirror; knowledge that lies within it can be reflected into one’s own consciousness. I believe that a “wise spirit” on the basis of the text it one that can discover universal truth and form a deeper connection with God through experiencing and venturing through nature. Emerson conveys that all elements of nature are shown to be pure, which may bring one back to their innocent times in childhood. In addition, he also reports that one must have curiosity and be open-minded in order to improve themselves as a person and to seek knowledge which it is a perpetual cycle.

The quote suggests that people take the sun, similar to the stars, for granted as it is continuously present. He stresses the people do not spiritually realize the influence it has over all life on earth. The sun “shining into the heart of the child” is a reference to the innocence and sense of adventure a child feels towards nature and the pursuit of knowledge. In comparison, the sun “illuminating only the eye of the man,” suggests that man might arrogantly believe in his own proficiency, rather than exploring nature for self-reflection and improvement.

Building from Emerson’s previous idea, the connotations with the phrase “spirit of infancy” is that of adventure and wonder, compared to the more logic and technological “era of manhood” where scientists, for instance, study nature factually, without taking into account spiritual study for self-reflection and enlightenment. Emerson describes a man with wisdom has both inward and outward senses and is able to retain his “spirit of infancy” into the “era of manhood.”

In Emerson’s personal faith, he profoundly believes that being outside with nature connects him with god and the universe; to him, truth is determined not solely by reason, but also by his own beliefs that are inspired by nature.

Emerson uses the “transparent eyeball” as a symbol of the union he feels with the universe and god, becoming spiritually one with nature. He also realizes that the more he reflects and learns, the less he knows. Although physically alone and isolated, Emerson describes how he becomes immersed and spiritually connected with nature, stating “I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the universe circulate through me.”

I believe Emerson is stressing to us to live our life to the “vibration” of our own drum because it is important to trust ourselves/make our own decisions and to not be influenced negatively by external factors. On the other hand, “beating” is diction that represents stability conveying that the majority of society is docile and followers rather than taking control of their own lifes. “Vibrating” also emphasizes that we must learn to be creative and live our live through challenges.

Emerson uses the metaphor of the “iron string” to demonstrate the power of our intuition and emotions. He believes that one will experience fulfillment if they are in touch with their “iron string.”

Emerson is comparing how society operates to that of a business. He explains that the rudiments of society are based on law and customs and that shareholders (leaders) benefit from employees (followers) working for them and not thinking outside the box. The quote: “It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs” is indeed correct and common in the modern world as society is creating masses of people that prefer to be docile rather than stepping up and taking control of their lives. Historically, this is evident in how advancements in humankind are undertaken by the few and misunderstood, and not by the many. A current global example is that certain societies oppose people from different ethics or sexual orientations.

I believe this quote and particularly the word “consistency” is used to emphasize one’s urge to fit in and to not appear strange. Whilst most societies want people to have “consistency” and to not step out of their status quo such as being homosexual, Emerson suggests that the great pioneers of human advancement such as Pythagoras and Jesus spoke their minds and were leaders, rather than followers.

Emerson is suggesting that proceeding with status quo, as most people do, never leads to innovation or change. He compares that thinking the same is like “studying a shadow on the wall”. He is alluding to some of the great pioneers of human advancements such as Newton and Pythagoras who thought outside the box and were misunderstood at the time.

I agree with Emerson’s stance on consistency as people who think or act differently are often ridiculed and misunderstood despite the fact that this can lead to the advancement of the human species. He also identifies correctly that the vast majority of people like to stick to what society perceives as normal and live a more docile life. The source of argument between parents and children is often due to a misunderstanding and difference between generations. For example, I often disagree with my parents over what they identify as me being ‘addicted’ to the internet. Perhaps I should be more open-minded in my response to their accusations and consider the obvious negatives of excessive internet usage.


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