‘The American Scholar” is an oration addressed by Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) on August 31, 1837, to the Phi Beta Kappa Society of Harvard College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The essay contains several essential themes such as social unity, nature and connection, creation, and national identity to develop its construction. Let’s see these.
More Notes: The American Scholar
The prime theme of Emerson’s “The American Scholar” is that intellectualism in America needs to be independent of European thought and shape itself within the distinctive character of America. At the onset of his address to the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, Emerson states,
“Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands, draws to a close.”
In his essay “The American Scholar,” Emerson urges his audience to remember that they are essential parts of a larger society and have a specific function: to facilitate unity. He asserts that all people, regardless of their education or social standing, play an equally important role in building and maintaining a prosperous society.
More Notes: Suggestions
In his essay, Emerson points out nature’s special role in the scholar’s development. He believes that man and nature are bound to the same root and that by studying nature, man can learn more about himself and all humankind. As a new and larger nation, America has created for scholars a way of exploring nature that the more minor but developed European countries cannot.
Emerson concludes that the role of the American scholar is crucial. A scholar should actively seek knowledge through interaction with life and nature rather than merely reading the works of others and adopting European thought.
He should actively seek knowledge rather than just reading the works of others and adopting European thought; moreover, he should seek knowledge through interaction with life and nature. In this way, the scholar/writer can develop his own ideas and a style of writing that is uniquely American. Thus the scholar can build his own thoughts and a type of writing that is uniquely American.