The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Historical Context

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During the time the play takes place, America was experiencing a renaissance, or rebirth, in the arts, particularly literature. This renaissance was sparked mainly by Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose famous Harvard addresses in the 1830s inspired other contemporary New England writers, like Thoreau, to produce many great literary works. At the center of Emerson's teachings and the American Renaissance was the idea of Transcendentalism, a literary and philosophical movement that idealized self-sufficiency and freedom of individual thought and opposition to conformity, even to the point of neglecting to form a concrete definition of Transcendentalism itself. Transcendentalists were opposed to rationalism and, ultimately, believed in the potential of the human mind to transcend the physical reality and thus find the meaning in life. Along with Emerson and Thoreau, other writers of the American Renaissance formed a group that was eventually called the Transcendental Club. Members included...

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This section contains 965 words
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Buy The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Study Guide
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Drama for Students
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.