Critical analysis of Hansen’s ‘Reading Sonic Culture In Emerson’s Self Reliance’ in context to Emerson’s essay ‘Self-Reliance’.
“These are the voices which we hear in solitude, but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world”1
The essential message of Andrew Hansen’s essay, Reading Sonic Culture in Emerson’s ‘Self-Reliance’ is that our own voices are the most powerful tool we possess, and though the discovery of our self-reliance we speak out our ideas in a non-conformist way. This idea of non-conformism is the key message that Emerson expresses in ‘Self-Reliance’, which is often expressed through speech. Through my reading and understanding of both Emerson and Hansen’s essay’s, I aim to argue that the voice is a crucial element in the discovery of self-reliance; however, it is not necessarily the most important, as Emerson makes references to various ways of gaining independent thought and expression. At a glance, Hansen’s essay explores the expression of our voices as being a key element to gaining self-reliance. This idea is noticeable in Emerson’s essay, however, he continuously argues against conformity and expresses his transcendentalist beliefs, considering the fate of individuals but also how we work in connection to others. This is not only done through the power of speech, but also through actions, therefore supporting the argument that self-reliance is gained through various mediums. Hansen describes Emerson as someone who “encourages people to follow their own beliefs” 2 expressing the idea that people can help others to do so through the power of their voice. To an extent, Hansen’s idea is correct in discussing Emerson’s desire for people to express self-reliance through the use of their voice; however this is not the only thing he refers to as a method of self-reliance within his essay. He also takes a transcendentalist approach to the essay, believing people should act against rationalism and conformity, not only...
Bibliography: Buell, Lawrence, Emerson, (Harvard, Harvard University Press, 2004) p. 107.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo, The Norton Anthology of American Literature: Nature, (New York, W. W. Norton & Co, 2012) p. 215-86.
Hansen, Andrew, Reading Sonic Culture In Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”, (Michigan State University, 2008) p. 418-429.
Tobin, Joanna, Democracy and the Individual: Emerson’s Urgent Call to Self-Reliance, (Washington DC, 2005) p. 31.
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