An analysis of the structure and major themes of Emerson’s short book, Nature, the first work which contained the major tenets of American Transcendentalism. Those discussed include Emerson’s concepts of the “Not Me,” the soul, definition of nature, spiritual reality, living close to nature, his preference for a rural over an urban environment, the four uses of nature (Commodity, Beauty, Language, and Discipline), Understanding vs. Reason, individualism, attack on science, perfectibility of humanity, and self-reliance.
The handout will allow your students to examine all of the most quoted passages from the book in context and with my commentary on difficult passages. As an addendum to the answer key, I have included a two-page note entitled “To the Teacher,” which deals with areas not covered in the handout. The note covers topics which your students may ask about or which you may wish to incorporate into class discussion of the book, such as Emerson’s life, his Transcendentalism, his doctrine of compensation, and eight of Emerson’s stylistic characteristics.
My handout, which has blanks that your students can fill in, is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity. As mentioned, a one-page answer key with a two-page appended note is provided on separate pages at the end of the handout.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.