Essay about Ralph Waldo Emerson 's Self Reliance

Essay about 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 and religious figures. With discipline to the inner-self comes the visionary truth of enlightened guidance through the individuals own mind. Emerson presents several reoccurring themes in his essay that show what it means to be self-reliant which include: acceptance of self, non-conformity, and intuition.
Acceptance of self is the ability to trust one’s self to achieve “oneness.” “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. 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 ...


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.... 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 question and say “I think” or “I am.” This is how one achieves reliance on self because without other opinions you wouldn’t have anything to contrast your opinions against. Emerson’s idea of individuality is only possible because of social conforming; without it he would have nothing to define himself as “non-conforming.” To sum up my thoughts, without acceptance of others; there would be no acceptance of self, without traditional teaching; there would be nothing to base individual teachings off of, and without conforming; there would be no non-conforming.

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