Self Reliance Paper

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism, Rhetoric Pages: 2 (691 words) Published: February 28, 2013
AP Language

Part I
Author- The author of this document is Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century.
Audience- The audience of Self-reliance would be people reading Emerson’s literary works around the year 1841. Also, Self-reliance was a speech before it became an essay so many people listening to Emerson speak at events would have most likely heard it. He is targeting his audience at young and medium aged men.

Message- The message of this essay is that humans should trust themselves and not be slaves to society. They need to think and act for themselves instead of leading lives controlled by others.
Context- Self-reliance was written around 1836 in America. Emerson’s wife had just died about five years before and he was preparing a series of lectures. America was a new place for people and ideas and Emerson flourished there because he could take advantage of the easily influenced minds of the Americans. Part II

a) The claim that Emerson effectively advances is that humans should not conform to society, but rather they should think for themselves and believe in what they do. He writes, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, - that is genius.” This quote supports Emerson’s main argument that each person should think for themselves and to not just accept what is written in a history or literary book. Emerson plays on the reader’s pathos, or emotions, by saying, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.” This statement appeals to the reader because Emerson is creating a bond between his words and the reader by relating to the audience on a personal level and telling the audience to trust them. Emerson uses logic by stating, “Who so would be a man must be a nonconformist.” Emerson feels that to be a man, one must not conform to the format set out by...
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