Self-reliance and Emerson

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance, Evidence Pages: 2 (785 words) Published: April 16, 2012
Analysis of “Self-Reliance”
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born into a pre-determined life. His father was a minister, so he was already set to become a minister. However, Emerson didn’t believe in organized religion. This was the reason that he became a transcendentalist and wrote his essay “Self Reliance”. In 1817, Emerson attended Harvard College where he first began to formulate his ideas that were portrayed in his most famous essay. In his essay, Emerson uses two main strategies to persuade his readers. These strategies were anecdotal stories and reasons supported by evidence.

Throughout his essay, Emerson uses anecdotes as his main strategy for persuasion. For example, he tells an anecdote about when he was a child. When he was a child, he expressed his true beliefs to a close adult. When asked how he knows that his beliefs aren’t from the devil, Emerson responds by saying, “They do not seem to me to be such; but if I am the Devil’s child, I will live then from the Devil.” In this response he is saying even if his beliefs are from the Devil, it doesn’t matter. This is what he believes in and nothing can change that. This idea was Emerson’s main virtue that he lived by and wanted others to live by: trust thyself. Emerson’s anecdotes prove to be a very effective way to persuade his readers to believe in his ideas. The anecdotes in this essay are so effective because the reader is able to connect with him, and place themselves in his shoes. The anecdotes are also effective because they are a portal into Emerson’s life. Instead of just listing facts and statistics, Emerson chooses to tell stories about his life. This allows his readers to connect with him on a personal level and the readers develop a stronger emotional connection with Emerson.

Another strategy that Emerson uses is reasons supported by evidence. This strategy is also effective because it gives the reader a reason why they should trust themselves, and then supports the reason with evidence to...
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