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An Analysis Of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance

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Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” essay is one of his most compelling and thought provoking pieces of work. It is compelling in the sense of its lyrical condonation as he writes his feelings in an infinitesimal usage of time. It is thought provoking in that it drives the reader to believe in their own intuition and common sense rather than conforming to the comfortable and easy agreeability of popular opinion. “A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages” (Emerson, pp. 1). This statement reflects his notion that people should search for direction through their inner-self with separation from the influences of philosophical…show more content…
Accept the place the divine Providence has found for you” (Emerson, pp. 2). Emerson describes the state of a child’s mind and how he acts without self-doubt and sub-partial influence to external stimuli. I see this achievement as difficult, as with maturity comes responsibility, with responsibility comes acceptance of societal standards. “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.”(Emerson, pg. 3) Synergy’s among man are necessary for a well-functioning society but this quote in my opinion embodies Emerson’s belief that society can detach an individual’s own theory through the overpowering temptation for acceptance. This idea of conforming in my opinion can be separated into either harmony among people for individuals to be a productive member of society or conforming to the masses for self-assuredness and worry of not being accepted by others. One is necessary, while neglect of the other can allow for a sub-conscious level of truth pertaining to an individual’s natural state of mind. However, this neglect can create isolation which unlike Emerson, I believe, will negatively affect emotion, which in turn may result in even less self-acceptance. This is because without the emotional benefits of others’ acceptance, you can’t be truly happy enough to accept one’s…show more content…
The themes represented in his essay are recurring and as stated previously wrote in an anecdotal account of current feelings. To understand where Emerson is coming from the reader must understand and interpret the state of emotion he was in. I agree with much of Emerson’s idea in a way. His idea of taking pride in one’s own individuality and freedom to express their thoughts in their original form is envious. His idea that one should not be fully concerned with the thoughts of others for not conforming to trivial ideas is inspiring. However, there are moments of contradictory and whimsical notations throughout his essay. The reader could argue that Emerson’s emotional state influenced his thought, pulling it into an anti-proverbial and skewed representation of his belief. His separation between the individual and society is seemingly odd, in that I believe it is in human nature to fit-in or be accepted so that one can attain comfort and love. “The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (Emerson, pp. 5). I believe it is possible to attain “self-reliance” in addition to perceiving the benefits of external sources. You can obtain this by observing external influences and building on them with one’s own internal sources. In contrast to Emerson, who believes traditional teachings are useless, I see it as a way to
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