Transcendentalism in Office Space

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Transcendentalists in Office Space Ne te quaesiveris extra— the Latin phrase, which means do not seek outside yourself, highlights an important tenet of transcendentalism, a way of life developed from personal experiences of two authors. Characters in the movie demonstrate aspects of this or against this through their actions and personalities. Transcendentalism beliefs of self-reliance, minimal government intervention, and nature controls all are shown throughout the works of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and in the movie, Office Space. The initial transcendental tenet, relying on yourself and only yourself for happiness, is shown in many ways throughout the movie, but especially by main character, Peter Gibbons, and his coworker, Milton. Since he was unhappy with his life, Peter decided to take matters into his own hands. He did this by doing whatever he pleased. Work was the main source of Peter’s unhappiness, so he chose not to go to work. In “Self Reliance,” Emerson explained that “the doctrine of hatred must be preached, as the counteraction of the doctrine of love, when it pulses and whines” (Emerson 1). Peter shows how he hates work, so the key to his happiness is just not going. Although he Peter was all for his own happiness, Milton began to think in a similar further into the film. This caused the two characters to butt heads. Milton told Peter he would not turn down his radio volume, basically just because it made him happy. A line from Self Reliance by Emerson tells that “their rage is decorous and prudent, for they are timid, as being vulnerable themselves.” Milton’s lack of timidity helped him gain his personal happiness therefore exemplifying transcendentalism. “The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried” (Emerson 192). Milton
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