Is Complete Self-Reliance Possible?

Is Complete Self-Reliance Possible?

Length: 939 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓


Self-Reliance - Is Complete Self-Reliance Possible?


If you are self-reliant then you don’t need to depend on anyone. That is the obvious message that Emerson is trying to convey in his essay "Self-Reliance". It seems as though Emerson believes that we all need to be individuals and put ourselves before anyone else. However, the real question is “is it possible to be totally self-reliant”.

After re-reading Self-Reliance I feel as though this question really can’t be answered. Emerson gives us a very confusing argument that seems to run around in circles with no apparent end in sight. He believes that we can all be "self-sufficient" but is that true? Most of the class seemed to believe that it is not possible to be "totally" self-reliant. Examples for this would be that not all of us are doctors and since injuries occur frequently as do "cold like" viruses it would be totally impossible to be self-reliant if you wished to live a long and healthy life. Another example would be the quest for knowledge, you have to depend on others that have lived before you and the books that they have written to truly understand the present world. But would this just be using the tools that are around you? There is no clear answer in the essay. The loopholes never stop but they eventually get answered somewhere in the essay but by then you are too confused to actually catch the meanings.

The web-text really helped on this reading especially where the "major flaw" of the essay is concerned. I have to agree with both Ann Woodlief as well as the rest of the class that Emerson really did use "overkill" to the extreme in this essay. As the class was discussing the essay I immediately knew what was taking place but every time I thought I knew what was going on Emerson did a "twist and turn" that would confuse us. He didn’t seem to care if the reader understood everything he was speaking about just as long as they got the general idea. I guess he would just fill in the gaps later in the essay and didn’t feel as though he needed to explain every point.

Another point that the class wanted to know about was, who is he writing this essay for. Is it for himself, his peers, the common man or possibly the college student?

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Is Complete Self-Reliance Possible?." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=3080>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Comparing Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance

- Comparing Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Ralph Waldo Emerson's Self-Reliance "It is only as a man puts off from himself all external support, and stands alone, that I see him to be strong and to prevail..." -Emerson Ralph Waldo Emerson's stance on human nature as seen in Self-Reliance is antithetical to that of Dostoevsky's in Crime and Punishment. It is my sincere hope that, had Emerson read this novel, he would have considered more carefully the implications of embracing a self-reliant human nature....   [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]

Free Essays
2516 words (7.2 pages)

Self-reliance Essay

- 1.&#9;The essay that I elected to read and analyze was &quot;Self-Reliance&quot; by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 2.&#9;The Transcendental Movement held a strong opinion that one should have complete faith in oneself. Emerson, being an avid transcendentalist, believed in this philosophy. He supported this concept that we should rely on our own intuition and beliefs. &quot;Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.&quot; Emerson, along with the Transcendental Movement, believed in the vitality of self-reliance....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1189 words (3.4 pages)

My Struggle With Self Confidence Essay

- CONFIDENCE This is another core problem I will discuss. As Tzwick and Muncie (1989) contributed that, ‘confidence is the key to success’. “It is something either one has or does not, but can always be accomplished over time”. My struggle with self-confidence started after I lost my father. It was difficult for me to see another replacing image like the relationship I had with him. I had a very hard time in Nigeria and I lacked self-confidence in affronting new challenges. My first approach or look was to see them as a strong obstacle to overcome....   [tags: Learning, Learning styles, Confidence]

Research Papers
1343 words (3.8 pages)

Religion Stifles Creativity, Self-expression and Individual Freedom Essay

- In the midst of a diversified society, communities tend to hold individuals to many set standards and stereotypes. One may compare the poor man to the rich, the black woman to the white, and even in the United States of America, the Christian family to the Muslim. Despite the many unique characteristics individuals and communities have, it is the institution of religion that places strongholds on individuality thus harboring conformity. Religious communities expect their members to assume a certain shape, to fit a particular mold; restriction essentially diminishes individuality while accepting conformity....   [tags: The Power of Religion]

Research Papers
1589 words (4.5 pages)

The Arrogant Emerson and Self-Reliance Essay

- The Arrogant Emerson and Self-Reliance "To believe your own thought, to believe that which is true for you in your private heart is true for all men-that is genius" (Self-Reliance and Other Essays, 19). This statement from the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson provides a summary of the ideas that transcendentalism centered around. Emerson believed that man is innately good, and that if he were left to his own devices without the structures of society and laws boxing him in, he would create a utopian society very different from the one Emerson lived in....   [tags: Self Reliance Essays]

Research Papers
1211 words (3.5 pages)

The Impractical Philosophies of Self-reliance and Civil Disobedience Essay

- The Impractical Philosophies of Self-reliance and Civil Disobedience The philosophies of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson would work well in a society comprised only of highly intellectual, healthy individuals who were willing put forth the effort needed to thoroughly examine themselves and formulate their own opinions about every issue pertaining to them. Emerson said that all members of society should think for themselves and formulate their own opinions rather than conforming to a popular belief....   [tags: Self Reliance Essays]

Research Papers
1090 words (3.1 pages)

Trust in Emerson's Self-Reliance Essay

- Trust yourself, your intuition, and your nature. According to Emerson's Self-Reliance, these qualities are essential to contentment and harmony with one's self. Self-reliance is an appeal to the individual to obey his instincts and to challenge tradition and conventional wisdom. According to Emerson, those who are truly self-reliant have the ability to mark their place in history as great and genuinely creative men. Emerson urges the reader to live by his instinct and listen to his intuition, "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string." Don’t fear your original thoughts, trust them and live accordingly....   [tags: Self Reliance Essays]

Free Essays
617 words (1.8 pages)

Observations on Emerson's Self-Reliance Essay

- Observations on Self-Reliance "Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles ." This quotation forms the closing two lines of Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self Reliance". I am greatly enlightened by his ideas in this article. "Trust thyself" was his advice and many Americans listened. They not only listened in Emerson's lifetime, but his individualistic concepts have reverberated up to the present time. After reading the ideas expressed in "Self-Reliance", I have come to believe that self-reliance is the most important factor in my life....   [tags: Emerson's Self Reliance Essays]

Free Essays
1503 words (4.3 pages)

Essay on The Puritan's Beliefs on Self Reliance

- The Puritan's Beliefs on Self Reliance Are we or are we not. That is the question. Does the current generation of Americans have the same values and morals of the Puritans of the 1600’s. Some would say yes and others would say no. This paper will show both sides of the argument. It will discuss whether or not we share the values of self-reliance and honesty like the Puritans treasured. This essay will discuss the importance of the family and home to the Puritans and compare that to today’s standards....   [tags: Puritans Self Reliance Morals Essays]

Research Papers
757 words (2.2 pages)

Essay on Self Reliance - Society never advances

- Self Reliance - Society never advances "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. ... For every thing that is given something is taken." Emerson, "Self Reliance", p 169 I agree with this statement, and it frustrates me to no end. Our country is screwed up in every direction one looks. People are starving while others have too much money to spend. Our population is out of control. We pollute to no end. Ours is one of the best countries in the world....   [tags: Self Reliance Essays]

Free Essays
390 words (1.1 pages)

Related Searches

The class seemed to believe that Emerson had the college student (or equivalent) in mind when he was writing this because "we" are in a type of "self-reliance". College students(and professors) are the only ones that will have time to read and analyze this essay to the degree that we actually start to partly understand it. We are living a type of self-sufficiency that can only be experienced by those who don’t have to worry about a great number of "bills", but even this only occurs for an allotted amount of time. Maybe the real point of his essay is just believing in yourself and acting upon what you derive as being "right" or "just". Then again maybe that is not possible, not by today’s standards in a world where anything that you must do to get ahead, you do without feeling.

Possibly the greatest and most criticized part of this essay is that it has a very simplistic message: "just decide what you want to do and do it". I find this message very hard to swallow. I believe that Emerson realized this as he was writing "self-reliance" and started to lean toward individuality instead of extreme self-reliance. This would account for all the conflicting points in the essay and why there is so many gaps and holes throughout. Later in the essay he does start to give credit to other personality traits, which show that he did start to believe that the individual may need "outside" forces for true understanding of moral development.

The one point that the class did take from this work is self-reliance is more of an ideal that we strive to reach but may be just outside our grasp. It would be nice if, as the web text points out, we could all just trust ourselves and follow our hearts but unfortunately not everyone can just "get up" and leave and do what they want(most of this is because of a financial need that most of society must satisfy).

So was Emerson right or wrong in his conclusions on self-reliance? The class seemed not have various opinions that he was neither right nor wrong. I would have to agree and actually go a step further and say that the essay was written so that every reader could relate to something in the essay and walk away with a piece of knowledge that may have been previously unavailable to him/her. I am sure that many students have found great comfort in the fact that Emerson’s life was a whirlwind of troubles and that his essays, especially self-reliance, advise the reader that the voyage of life is one that has many twists and turns and will never have a straight line. Maybe the hidden meaning of this essay is that it is not talking about a sense of reliance but living out your fantasies in your own heart where you have no limitations. Inside yourself you can "just pick up" and leave without the fear of your financial responsibilities or other limitations in reality. I believe that Emerson realized this while he was writing and began to change his "meanings" in the essay. This may account for the confusing loopholes and gaps that plague the essay.
Return to 123HelpMe.com