Essay by ferrari5003 April 2003

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Transcendentalism was a movement in philosophy, literature, and religion that emerged and was popular in the nineteenth century New England because of a need to redefine man and his place in the world in response to a new and changing society. The industrial revolution, universities, westward expansion, urbanization and immigration all made the life in a city like Boston full of novelty and turbulence. Transcendentalism was a reaction to an impoverishment of religion and mechanization of consciousness of eighteenth century rational doctrines that ceased to be satisfying. After the success of the American Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, an American man emerged confident and energetic. However, with the release of nervous energy, an American was forced to look at a different angle at his place in the world and society.

The world of the nineteenth century Boston was that of emergence of new currents of thought in response to the conservative atmosphere.

The wealthy upper classes (the aristocracy) were conservative and suspicious of any innovations. They dominated the society and demanded conformity to their social ideals, being suspicious of any new structure of society. The irony was that by their reliance on tradition and old beliefs (such as Puritanism) they acknowledged the harmony with cosmic law. Old values and traditions would serve as a base to Transcendentalism, although a radical movement in itself.

In the nineteenth century America plunged into the Industrial Revolution. In the eighteenth century, goods were produced in home system operations. The remarkable development of capitalism in Boston became evident after the French and Indian war of 1812. Two of huge factories privately owned in Boston were Francis Lowell's Boston Manufacturing Company in Waltham and Merrimack Manufacturing Company in Lowell. As the role of women in society became more indiscriminate, young females dominated factory towns such...