Todd’s Challenge: Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature

Hello, Hello! I’m back! And I have a real brain twister for you to start off our Todd’s Challenges this year! Since many of you have studied the Emerson text, or at least the Virginia Woolf text, then you have a notion of enigmatic literature. So here is an exercise on idiomatic expressions and their definitions according to Emerson’s philosophies. Let’s see who can decipher all 10 questions! To find out if you got the score, send your answers to The answer key will be released tomorrow. I’ll give a book of mine to anyone who can get all 10 questions right! Good luck!!

(You can check the answer key for this challenge here)

Ralph Waldo Emerson, in Chapter IV: Language of his famous essay entitled Nature, presents three main themes on the use of language.

  • Words are signs of natural facts.
  • Particular Natural facts are symbols of particular Spiritual facts.
  • Nature is the symbol of the Spirit.


Determine if the 10 statements below are true or false.

  1. Shakespeare’s famous quote: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” uses the same principles as that presented in themes 1 and 2.
  2. The expression “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, embodies the philosophies of all three themes.
  3. Andersen Silva’s nickname “Spider” is a representation of theme 1.
  4. The derogatory expression “Go Dutch” seeks to present a cultural version of theme 3.
  5. Saying an expression like “the crowds flooded into the stadium” would best be defined by theme 2.
  6. The action of being “stuck between a rock and a hard place” takes on the characteristics of themes 2 and 3.
  7. A “waterfall” can be used to exemplify both themes 2 and 3 through both nature and spiritual imagery.
  8. The expressions “make hay while the sun shines” and “vinegar is the son of wine” are synonymous with the philosophy of “Carpe Diem” and best represent themes 2 and 3.
  9. The term “rose” is, biologically speaking, a “flower”, which proves that presented in theme 2.
  10. The idiomatic expression “like a needle in a haystack” is the representation of nature within theme 3.



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Todd Marshall é professor de inglês do Curso Sapientia.

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