True Worthiness within Society

1669 Words7 Pages
In the wake of the Great Awakening, Transcendentalism became a 19th century philosophical movement which arose as a reaction against the 18th century rationalism. The movement was a rebellion to Unitarianism: the belief of which God exists as one person. Transcendentalists saw political and religious institutes as a corruption to an individual’s purity and believed goodness derives from man himself and nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson, father of the Transcendentalist movement, portrays Transcendentalists as people who “will walk on our own feet; will work with our own hands; will speak our own minds...because each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires all men.” Emerson’s literary work, Self-Reliance, emphasize the ideas of non-conformity and avoiding corruption by society’s standards. Only through the opposition from the mass of society will one be able to realize his true worth. By isolating oneself from society and institutions, one will develop a sense of intuition and individualism as well as harboring innocence of the mind. The problem with society, as Emerson says, is that its goal is to adjust people. Conformity robs an individual’s ability to think for oneself and, therefore, what society desires is the only possible direction that can be followed. Relying on judgments made by others is cowardly and disheartens one from thinking for oneself. Intuition, or having an independent reasoning of truth, is one of the substantial aspects in Self-Reliance to being aware of an individual’s own value. Perceiving the truth without the influence of others’ reasoning allows one to display his self-esteem and originality. Emerson states that "every heart vibrates to that iron string" (186). In other words, every m... ... middle of paper ... ...re that opposes conventionality of the society. The value of self-worth, to truly appreciate one’s own importance and uniqueness, is only gain through non-conformity or separate oneself from society’s principles. Works Cited Emerson, Ralph Waldo. "Self-Reliance." 2003. Literature and Language Arts. Vol. 5. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2003. 185-86. Print. Essentials of American Literature. "Emerson's Essays." CliffsNotes Study Guides. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web. 08 Jan. 2012. . Jamie, Jason, Jennifer H., Sarah, Sue, Laurel, Stephanie, Theresa, Julie, Pamela, Sean, Christine, and Jason W. "'Self-Reliance' Discussion." Virginia Commonwealth University. Web. 08 Jan. 2012. .
Open Document