Thoreau and Poe

Thoreau and Poe - An Individual's Choice For Transcendence...

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An Individual’s Choice For Transcendence Edgar Allan Poe uses “The Fall of the House of Usher” to give a negative view of the idea of transcendentalism. He suggests by the demise of the Usher family and their house that their separation from normal society to strive for sublime is unhealthy and makes for their life to be much worse. This is in direct contrast with Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau believes that his time spent on Walden Pond has helped him realize things about his life and that he has benefited from the separation from normal society and the simple interaction with Nature. The interesting thing about these two authors is the vehicle in which they use to make their arguments. Poe’s use of fiction and supernatural events may give the reader the sense that his view is untested therefore inferior to Thoreau’s experience with transcendentalism on Walden. Thoreau uses semi- non-fiction to convey his promotion of transcendental beliefs. Although Poe uses a fictional mode to convey his point does not mean his view is any less valid than Thoreau’s, it is up to the individual to decide if transcendentalism would work for them. From the commentary given in Walden it is considered that Thoreau made his life better through transcendentalism and that he began to have a better perception on the attitude he wanted to have towards life. Poe’s personal life certainly had an influence on his views of transcendentalism. His withdrawn and melodramatic attitude was in direct correlation with his alcohol abuse and depression in his own life. Poe needed outside help to get him through the day; depression is not something that can work itself out by thinking about it. Outside influences must be had in order to relinquish one’s self from the sad, dreary times. For Thoreau, the problems in his life were not as personal. Rather his political views and thoughts for others sparked his need for tranquility with nature. His
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This note was uploaded on 04/10/2008 for the course ENG 303 taught by Professor Jones during the Fall '07 term at Rollins.

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Thoreau and Poe - An Individual's Choice For Transcendence...

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