The Age of Machinery
Thomas Carlyle, “The Age of Machinery”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature” (These are the text that should be quotes in the essay )
In the essays I had you read leading up to this, the concept of beauty was discussed a lot. It was widely discussed in the Transcendentalist circle, and it was a growing field of academic study during this time, and it still is. Especially in Emerson’s “Nature,” beauty was mentioned or alluded to dozens of times, and Emerson had a lot of pretty firm ideas on the subject. So for this assignment, I would like you to title your essay:
The Beauty of the Common.
That must be the title of your essay, but you can write it however you would like. In “Nature,” Emerson writes, “It will not need, when the mind is prepared to study, to search for objects. The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common.” So I want you to use that as your guide. Write an essay (at least three pages, Times New Roman 12 pt. font, 1″ margins all around, double-spaced) that does two things: it should present a thesis about the beauty of the common as you see it, and the beauty of the common as Emerson saw it. Use Emerson and Carlyle to help you through it, and try to find some common ground between them and yourself, between their world and yours. The Transcendentalists were brilliant at finding beauty in the most common of things (a rock for example, or a leaf), and they truly believed it. Not necessarily in the sunset, but in the way a certain tree looked when the sun was setting. They then found a way to make sense of that beauty as it represented the men and women looking at, and studying, that beauty. The beauty, in other words, meant something. So for this assignment, discuss that. Discuss the beauty in the everyday, not necessarily in the profound, but in the simple. Be creative, be thorough, and be true to these essays. Quote them, but don’t quote them that extensively. I want this to come from a place of originality.