Top-Rated Free Essay

Emerson's Self-Reliance Analysis

Good Essays
To Be Unique To a large extent, individuals succumb to society’s demands such as thriving for happiness and acceptance. In today’s society, the society encourages people to get good friends, jobs, good looks, and get luxurious things. It is not a bad thing but at the same time, it is also not a good thing because it may hinder an individual’s true self. If not followed for example, performing an “ill-action” that the society finds unacceptable, such as sharing a belief of homosexuals should be allowed to marry will most likely be shunned. In addition, following the society is a bad thing because it encourages adolescents – preferably middle school girls – to use make up and follow the appearances of female models in a fashion magazine. As a result, the society controls how a person’s life should be like rather than expressing their beliefs which can possibly make a difference. In one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays, Self-Reliance, shows a variety or a step-by-step solution on how to become an individual without giving into the society’s demands or other people’s opinions. Emerson believes that a person’s behavior should be expressed through his or her self-trust, non-conformity, and an independence of thought. Hence, to become an individual without the society preventing a person from reaching his or her true self, one must realize his or her beliefs; avoid being discouraged of what other people may think, and not regretting decisions. First, rather than being told what to do or what to become like a puppet, an individual should realize his or her goal and move forward. In Emerson’s essay, he mentions “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” (259-260). In other words, rather than trying to go with the flow in the society, just freely do anything that brings satisfaction. It is not guaranteed to be easy but using original ideas is even more satisfying because it may become a new trend for the society. Therefore, rather than being a follower, try to share new ideas that may be suitable for other people and hopefully it becomes popular. Also, Emerson notes “in every work of genius, we recognize our own rejected thoughts” (260). For instance, an artist can do a rough sketch of his characters but it will not be perfect. To other people, that sketch may be impressive but for the artist, he or she may think that it needs more work because there are some sections that need to be fixed. In addition, that artist may also think that other people may not like his or her work. Thus, rather than rejecting the idea before it is implemented, at least present it to everyone to see if people will whether like it or not. So, when developing a sense of individualism, having an independence of thought is a must because if everyone were to think the same, performing the same routine and moving passively, life would be a completely dull. So as a result, Emerson’s idea of having original thoughts is what makes a person a different human being like everyone else. Then, another way to move forward as an individual is to avoid being discouraged by opinions and negative commentary because otherwise, that person will start to doubt him or herself and possibly start acting differently. In Emerson’s point of view, “it is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what your duty is better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (263). Most of the time, it is hard for people to retaliate after receiving unfavorable comments or when a student receives a failing grade in an exam. However, its common sense that these mistakes should be treated as a life lesson in order to move on to be successful. For instance, after receiving unenthusiastic reviews after being a waiter at a restaurant or receiving a low grade on an exam does not mean that it is the end of the world, it just means that he or she needs to step it up and try to make a difference. The disappointing results may affect one’s personality every now and then but lingering in the past will not allow a person to move on with life. All in all, mistakes should be treated as lessons on how to move forward and not look back. When Emerson talks about how individuals should have the trait of noncomformity, he encourages people not to be overwhelmed by a disappointing outcome. Instead, people should prove their worth by trying again until they achieve their goals. Lastly, if a certain decision a person made did not receive any positive outcomes, it should not imply that he or she should regret that decision. Emerson mentions, “the other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them” (265). Whenever an individual makes any type of decision, he or she should commit to it with no regrets. Otherwise, making a decision knowing that it will be regretted later on is a waste of time and pointless. So overall, any type of decision in order to move on should be treated with more dignity and be natural about it. Because of this, when a person acknowledges his or her decision with no regrets, it would fit in one of Emerson’s qualities of behavior, self-trust, as a form of searching for one’s own sense of individualism. Even though the society today encourages people to follow trends, it does not stop an individual from exposing his or her true self. Due to Emerson’s qualities of behavior, self-trust, nonconformity, and independence of thought, any individual can find his or her potential on what they can do within the society and survive. In addition, as a long as a person does not succumb to the society’s peer pressure, negative assumptions, and regret, he or she will not face too many problems in his or her path. Regardless of the society’s peer pressure towards people, it may change their looks and/or attitude, but it will not change their individuality because each human being has their own interests.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Emerson's Self Reliance

    • 571 Words
    • 3 Pages

    Emerson’s “Self Reliance” Christina Gailbreath October 27, 2012 Carla McGill AML 2000 After reading the opening paragraph of Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance”, I was very moved and impressed. I have always been told that Emerson was an amazing writer, but I had no idea how great he really was. I can take so many quotes from this essay to talk about so being limited to just picking one or two was the most difficult part for me. After careful consideration I have found two that I was moved by…

    • 571 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Emerson's Self Reliance

    • 5249 Words
    • 21 Pages

    R.W. Emerson's Self-Reliance The essay has three major divisions: the importance of self-reliance (paragraphs 1-17), self-reliance and the individual (paragraphs 18-32), and self-reliance and society (paragraphs 33-50). As a whole, it promotes self-reliance as an ideal, even a virtue, and contrasts it with various modes of dependence or conformity. "Self-Reliance" Paragraphs 1-17. The Importance of Self-Reliance. Emerson begins his major work on individualism by asserting the importance of…

    • 5249 Words
    • 21 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Emerson's Self-Reliance

    • 770 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Doing things you know are wrong, but still doing them because you don’t want to be the “loser.” Peer pressure has been an issue for many teens throughout the centuries. Ralph Waldo Emerson refers to his essay “Self-Reliance” as reason to stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do. You are in charge of your life and no one can take that away. For instance, Mr. Emerson clearly states in his text “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your…

    • 770 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Emerson’s Self-Reliance

    • 420 Words
    • 2 Pages

    In his most revered work Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members.” In this essay Emerson falls prey to countless ideal fantasies, most notably of which is the illusion that one can exist without society. What Emerson fails to mention is that individuals are molded by society, which means that we are not determined by society, but we are influenced by its product. Furthermore, we need society; man alone in nature…

    • 420 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    On The Rhetoric of Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”. Ralph Waldo Emerson grew up in the town of Concord, Massachusetts with humble beginnings, but eventually managed to get into Harvard University and later went on to become an iconic and well-known American writer, essayist, and novelist. After reading a poem by a famous painter, he was inspired to write his well-known essay “Self-Reliance” in which he argues to the reader to trust themselves and to not conform to the standards of others. Through the…

    • 1238 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    In Ralph Emerson’s Self Reliance he expresses the joy and calmness felt when people follow their heart and do what they love. Along with this idea he has a great passion for how important it is for people to be themselves, and how everyone is uniquely different. I personally believe in Emerson’s cause, and that everyone has their own special gifts from God, therefore they shouldn’t conform to society. In his essay, Ralph Emerson stresses how one must accept themselves and follow the path God has…

    • 594 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    must follow his or her own path is explicitly expressed in both. Not only do they relate to this transcendental idea, but they also relate to each other. Emerson’s quote in Self-Reliance is a great example of the nonconformity aspect of transcendentalism and the best representation of his piece as the writing itself is about accepting your true self. In the quote from Bless Me, Ultima, Antonio and Cico are waiting at the creek for golden carp to…

    • 207 Words
    • 1 Page
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Perfection. It's more than just a universal truth. We believe in it. We crave it. We strive for it. It’s safe to say we basically breathe for it. But tell me, what is perfection? Each and every individual asked that question would have a greatly altered definition of their perception of perfection, ranging from personal appearance to success. It is a mere fact that depending on who you are, where you grew up, and what you're capable of, you are presented with different expectations on how you should…

    • 1638 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world” (Emerson, “Self Reliance”, 133) in his essay, Self Reliance. In this precisely worded essay, he states his belief that we must not be tempted or influenced by the thoughts of others, rather, we should support our own beliefs. “Absolving to yourself” (“Self Reliance” 133), or releasing into one’s own power in a way that the competence is not unnatural to them, aids us in reaching the stage…

    • 718 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    In today’s society, it is very easy to allow ourselves to conform to the expectations and thoughts of the people we look up to or spend our time with. However, in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Self-Reliance,” he goes into great detail about his belief that it is very important for people to formulate their opinions according to their own minds, rather than with the influence of those around them. This concept is one that is hard for us to comprehend because, of course, everything we know has been…

    • 1494 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays