Emerson: to Be or Not to Be - a Conformist.

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Individualism, Religion Pages: 4 (1423 words) Published: December 9, 2012
19th Century Rep. U.S Writers
Jul. Dor

Emerson: To be or not to be – a conformist.

“Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members….The virtue most requested is conformity….Who so would be a man must be a nonconformist” [70-75]. Ralph Waldo Emerson- a renowned philosopher, poet, lecturer and philanthropist, questions the concept of conformity. As one of the greatest revolutionary individualist in American literature – he expresses fervently that society is ultimately in opposition to the individual (actually, it's a conspiracy against man) and self-reliance is its aversion. Can Emerson be correct? The Emersonian idea of conformity is zealous in morality; however, conformity is quintessential in order for an individual to coincide with society. “Self-Reliance”, one of the legendary essays produced by Emerson, argues that conformity robs us of our most authentic and creative selves. It demonstrates how important it is to be an individual in a conformed world. Emerson believes that men fail to prosper because they allow society to think for them by setting standards and creating social norms. Emerson equates freedom with the expression of personal conviction, which is unrestrained by regulations or rules. He states that his own perception of something is just as important as the air he breathes. This idea suggests that man was born to make his own decision, have his own thoughts and be independent from everybody else. Emerson vividly illustrates this through his rant: Then, again, do not tell me, as a good man did to-day, of my obligation to put all poor men in good situations. Are they my poor? I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong. There is a class of persons to whom by all spiritual affinity I am bought and...
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