Revise Essay


Writing an Emerson Analysis Essay

For your introduction – which you should worry about last– establish the nature of what happens in your essay (which is an analysis of both what happens in Emerson’s essay– and HOW it happens)

Your introduction should introduce (a) your essay and (b) your thesis

Your thesis should be related to the following:

Emerson felt quite emphatically he could experience life more truly in nature than in civilization, and, in his essay, he writes about the reverence and awe one can have for nature if one’s mind is open to the influence of such things— so much so that he connects the awe we might have for the brilliant, shining stars in the nighttime sky to the awe we can have for natural things in our world down below those stars. By doing so, Emerson expresses his belief that the God he reveres so much in the unreachable stars can be experienced in and through the beauty and awe of nature experienced down here on earth.

You conclusion should use all of your analysis in your body paragraphs to demonstrate the “what” and the “how” of Emerson’s essay. Think of your conclusion as the place where you conclude what Emerson has been up to (as, for example, stated in the example thesis above). Think of your thesis statement as a restatement of your conclusion.

What do you need to cover? These are the essential elements of Emerson’s essay.

Emerson begins the essay by explaining how to achieve a certain quality of solitude, one that he will achieve later in his essay when he becomes a transparent eyeball.

He explains that if one wishes to achieve that quality of solitude, one must leave behind a connection to people (society, reading, writing, one’s home)

To find true solitude one only need look at the stars

The stars fill us with awe the make one feel like the stars separate us from them

(with a “transparent” atmosphere – later connects to “transparent eyeball”

Call the stars a “City of God”  later calls the woods / nature “plantations of God”

The stars invoke a sense of awe, for we cannot access them– thus, in their presence, we feel respect and reverence

We can feel a similar kind of awe for all of nature down here on earth if we are open to the influence of nature

Nature is never mean (it never “wears a mean appearance”  later connects to “nature wears the colors of our spirit”)

The “wise man” (the person whose mind is open to the influence of nature

Never tires of nature – always feels wonder

Never tries to forcefully take nature’s secrets

Never treats it like a toy

Always feels a continual wonder for it – much like the wonder most people have in childhood (but not the same exact thing – we are now adults!)

The person who sees in this way sees poetically (sees nature in terms of the wonder and beauty it invokes)

Offers examples of


Woodcutter who sees a tree as material / wood that can be used and / or sold

Poet sees the tree with a sense of awe– for the beauty, for the awe and reverence it invokes

The Landscape

He takes a walk through the farmland and realizes individuals lay claim to fields and woods, but these people can never own the landscape (the view / the experience of it)

Most people, Emerson argues, never “see” nature (this IMPLIES that they do not see it more deeply– do not see it with the heart of a poet)

Offers example that adults only see the sun superficially– while the sun shines both in the inner (heart) and outer (eyes) of children

The person who loves nature (open to influence / the poet / etc.) -- has an adjusted experience of outer and inner senses

That person retains some of the wonder he/she experienced as a child

That person experiences an awe for nature on earth and in the heavens – and those experiences are a kind of nourishment (spiritual)

It as if nature says you are mine  personification

A person feeling sad can feel nature uplifting him / her sometimes

Nature fits happiness and melancholy

Nature can feel like a cordial (a little medicine)

Emerson has been on a walk in nature and felt exhilarated by the experience with no other special reasons for feeling that way

He is glad to the brink of fear (on the edge between exhilaration and terror)

He feels that one can feel as if they return to a kind of youthful excitement when in nature

compares it to casting off the years like a snake casts off its skin

He compares it to a ritual (decorum = dignified propriety of behavior, speech, dress, etc.)

He calls the woods “plantations of God” – compare to “City of God” in first paragraph)

Implies that God is both in the stars and in nature

In those moments of pure exhilaration while in nature:

He says that we return to reason and faith (these are contradictory) – Transcendentalists believed in science AND God

He feels, in those moments, like nothing bad can happen – as if nature can repair any ills

He feels the breeze

He feels as if he is lifted by the exhilaration into an endless space (FEELS – not actual)

He feels like all meanness vanishes

He becomes a transparent eyeball

Metaphor comparing (1) the experience of being deeply connected to nature TO (2) a transparent eyeball

Transparent = having the property of transmitting rays of light through its substance so that bodies situated beyond or behind can be distinctly seen.

Eyeball = the entire ball-shaped part of the eye

Eye can be pun (same sound / two different words) on I (eye / I)

Eye is how you see – how one experiences – I is who you are and how you see – Implication = the eye and the I are how one experiences nature

So the implication is that this is a transparent “I”

Thus– we can infer that the moment 0f the I and the eye is deeply connected to nature AND

He is part of God / particle of God  THUS he deeply connects to God while in nature (for, in a sense, God is nature // nature is God

He connects because of his awe for the stars (“City of God” and his consequential connection to all of nature (plantations of God) because he is open to the influence

In those moments other human beings feel far away (back to first paragraph) / inconsequential

He finds something inherently essential in his deep connection to nature (and thus God)

This deep connection suggests a mystical relationship between a person and the vegetation of nature

Personification as if nature sees him / he sees nature

Nature– even though familiar– always seems new (refers back to second paragraph of essay)

In those moments it is a higher thought– a thought more intense and heightened than ordinary thoughts

However– this connection to nature is primarily grounded in the individual

One brings their emotions to nature (once can feel happier or elevated by nature– but the ownership of the feelings is the individual)

Essential quotes (You can break them up and / or block them – see next page)

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars


The stars awaken a certain reverence, because though always present, they are inaccessible; but all natural objects make a kindred impression, when the mind is open to their influence.


When we speak of nature in this manner, we have a distinct but most poetical sense in the mind. We mean the integrity of impression made by manifold natural objects. It is this which distinguishes the stick of timber of the wood-cutter, from the tree of the poet.


To speak truly, few adult persons can see nature. Most persons do not see the sun. At least they have a very superficial seeing. The sun illuminates only the eye of the man, but shines into the eye and the heart of the child. The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood. His intercourse with heaven and earth becomes part of his daily food.


Crossing a bare common, in snow puddles, at twilight, under a clouded sky, without having in my thoughts any occurrence of special good fortune, I have enjoyed a perfect exhilaration.


There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God

And it is in this state of “perfect exhilaration” that one returns to reason and faith, these words being essential because, for the transcendentalists, the spiritual and the scientific were never in competition with one another. They generally believed that the world could be understood through spiritual intuition, but they also accepted scientific doctrine. For some, this might be difficult to understand— especially since he is about to speak about his very deep, mystical connection with nature in exceptionally poetic terms— but that poetic outlook is exactly what fuels his direct experience. It may be poetic, but it is also reasoned through a connection to what is there, to what he sees in terms of what it actually is. And with this focused attention on his surroundings, he then writes about the intensity of his connection to both the natural landscape and God:  context to set up quote and a colon ( : )

There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature

cannot repair. Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space,

-- all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eye-ball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being

circulate through me; I am part or particle of God (7).  do not italicize the quote / *do not place quotation marks around it

At first glance, Emerson’s words seem to suggest an almost hallucinatory experience, but when one considers the reverence, the childhood wonder, and the most poetical sense of mind that he has already introduced us to, one can see the absolute delight and awe he has for such an intense experience, a moment of experience in which he fully absorbs his surroundings, the intensity of the connection itself being what instructs and connects him. Indeed, he speaks in mystical terms, in a connection through which he purely experiences the moment itself as if he is there, but not there, and, in that state, connects with God. In this perennially festive moment, he lets the self, the “mean egotism” go, and it is as if he joins, in that moment, the same “infinite space” where one would find the stars and the “city of God,” as if he has bridged the “intercourse with heaven and earth” (7). To be transparent is to be opaque, as if you are there but cannot be seen. One might also think of a substance like water which is sheer and allows light to shine through, as if in those moments the light of everything in the universe, viz., the “Universal Being,” radiate through him thus allowing him to absorb everything in his surroundings. The “eye,” the organ through which we see, can also be seen as a pun on the personal pronoun “I,” which connects this experience to the self, and, as a result, the self, the “I,” is also made transparent and one then becomes nothing, as if one is no longer there, and then becomes a “part” of God or a minute particle of God, both indicating that he has connected and become part of nature and part of God. At the very least, one sees the absolute intensity by which he finds this connection, one that is bound to reverence, to wonder, and to a most distinctly poetical sense of mind.

Do not start a new paragraph after the blockquote – address the quote in your same paragraph – pull out words and

phrases and analyze / discuss / explain / address them

*Only use quotation marks or italicize if what you are quoting uses

quotation marks or has italicized test.