Self Reliance

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What is the most important line in Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”? Why?

The most important line in Emerson’s “Self Reliance”, is “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” (538) In other words, “if you trust yourself, then you will be strengthened by your decisions and actions.” Similarly, if you don’t consider and are not pressured by other’s thoughts, you will live a life solely based on what appeases you. Emerson believes that God is everywhere, present to inspire each individual. Emerson writes, “We lie in the lap of immense intelligence, which makes us receivers of its truth and organs of its activity.” (539) We are all receiving unique inspirations, but our choice whether to accept the gift or reject it, is what makes us discomfited. Emerson argues that God’s manifest plan will not come to fruition if one conforms to societal norms; there would have been “no invention, no hope.” (538) This implies that advances in sciences would not have been possible if scientists had not challenged conventional beliefs. For example, Copernicus will not have refuted the earth’s centric theory if he did not believe in his own scientific inquiries.

The divine presence that illuminates every soul sanctions self-trust. As Emerson writes, “A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into work and done his best.” (539) This statement most surely means that a man who does not conform to the rules outlined by society, but instead trusts himself and follows the path God has intended him to take, will be rewarded by excellence. For example, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are examples of men with supreme self belief, who flouted conventional thought, dropped out of Harvard, and pursued their dreams. The world has benefited immensely from these entrepreneurs. Furthermore Emerson writes, “Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater....
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