Study Guide – Transcendentalism
Honors American Lit. I
True Reality is Spiritual p. 210
1. The term “transcendental” is borrowed from philosopher Immanuel Kant and refers to what
2. Explain how the American transcendentalists borrowed from the idealism of Greek
Emerson and Transcendentalism; Emerson’s Optimistic Outlook p. 212
3. Everything in the world is a reflection of the ______________ ____________.
4. The natural world is a doorway to the ______________ or _____________ world.
5. People use their _________________ to behold _________ _____________.
6. ____________________ and ____________________ must outweigh external
__________________ and blind ____________________.
7. ____________________ ______________________ and ____________________ are
superior to deliberate ________________________ and _______________________.
8. What is intuition?
9. How did Emerson explain his overriding optimism, even in the fact of death, disaster and
Ralph Waldo Emerson p. 216
10. What was Emerson’s life as a boy like? What values did his mother instill in him?
11. Like many teens today, Emerson had his life “planned” for him by his family. What was he
supposed to do? Why?
12. For how many years was Emerson a preacher? Why did he leave his post?
13. When Emerson returned to the U.S., how did he find a “new pulpit?”
14. Explain Emerson’s idea of an “Over Soul.” On what other controversial ideas did he lecture?
15. What event seemed to shake Emerson’s optimism? What was Emerson like in the last years
of his life?
Henry David Thoreau p. 230
16. How did Emerson and Thoreau know each other?
17. How did Thoreau display his nonconformity as a college student?
18. Why did Thoreau move to Walden Pond? What observations about most people’s lives did
he make while living there?
19. What political activities did Thoreau become involved in?
20. After leaving Walden Pond, how did Thoreau spend his time?
21. List three adjectives that accurately describe Thoreau.