Effects of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Writings on his Audience

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The name Ralph Waldo Emerson resonates in my mind as that of a man who possessed the unique and incredible power to uplift, provoke thought, and inspire with his words. I have an unchanging image of Emerson in my thoughts as a modern-day Socrates: a man who questions all in search of something, anything that will explain that which has not yet been explained. The answers Emerson provides for the questions he poses serve as guidelines rather than concrete instructions, for he encourages his audience to think, to wonder, to ask, and to be wrong – forever searching for the correct answers to perhaps even questions not yet posed. Emerson is not a man known for his absolute and unyielding accuracy on all matters, for he has been known to contradict himself and change his mind, but his efforts prove that being wrong or attaining new information is not necessarily “bad,” but instead allows for the growth of one’s mind. In my experience, I have been known to change my mind constantly, and I do not feel this makes me hypocritical, but instead ever changing, ever evolving, ever growing as a human being who is exposed to new information each and every day. It is not hypocritical to change one’s mind; instead, I feel that it exacts a great deal of intelligence, humility, and a willingness to adapt in order to avoid becoming stagnant and ignorant in an ever-changing world. Reading the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson has effected me very positively, for his writings have been able to further expand the limits of my mind: there is no right, no wrong, just here and now --- and that is all one is able to work with until time passes further. The works of Emerson that I have been exposed to follow a unique, precise, and oftentimes eloquent train of ... ... middle of paper ... ...act that his writing forces you to think. Emerson’s writing forces his audience to answer the questions he poses, to search deep within themselves for the answers and then look back to Emerson for guidance. One does not simply read the works of Emerson; one partakes in a conversation with him, consisting of the silent and solitary exchange of thoughts and ideas in order to create something that seems to touch on sense, together. Works Cited Emerson, Ralph W. "Self-Reliance." Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ed. William H. Gilman. New York: Signet Classics, 2011. 266-92. Print ---. "Fate." Selected Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ed. William H. Gilman. New York: Signet Classics, 2011. 413-41. Print ---. "The Transcendentalist." The American Transcendentalists: Essential Writings. Ed. Lawrence Buell. New York: Modern Library, 2006. 107-22. Print.
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