Self-Reliance of Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind Emerson was a widely known man who established himself as an intellectual and philosophical writer who advocated for social reforms. He was a spokesman who believed that the only thing keeping a person from reaching their full potential was a distorted perception of reality and longing to conform with society’s standards. By using intellectual diction to strongly convey his argument to the people, Emerson effectively demonstrates an inimical environment in hopes that people will resist conformity and rely upon themselves. Emerson uses subtle devices in order to display to the people as a whole, that they should trust their own intuition and reject the standards built up by society. In doing so, Emerson is able to express his true feelings. At the end of the day you are your own person and by being anyone but yourself is only going to hold you back from success in the future. In the metaphor, envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse. Emerson obligates society to recognize that every individual person is unique. By envying someone else’s qualities it causes the downfall of your self destruction.

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Consequently, the quality of being ignorant enables the mind to lack knowledge and destroys the exhilaration and meaning to your life. In Self Reliance Emerson utilizes word choice to his advantage. He alludes to the fact that, society is a joint-stock company. This quote indicates how people are brought together by different aspects of life like traditions or customs. In a place like this, society has the ability to suppress individuality due to a fear of change. Society can be quick to criticize and uses this instilled fear to enslave the people to its expectations. By having individualism, it brings about form of strength that enables people to think on their own. Part of being self reliant is not allowing society to define you but instead have the ability to create change and opportunity. This quality separates a person from the vast majority of people who rely on the satisfaction of others.       

Throughout the essay, Emerson manages to reinforce his main points by providing structure and organization through parallelism. This allows his ideas to become even more memorable. Emerson implies that self reliance not only enables people to rely upon themselves but when used it’s put into action, it can change every aspect of society in relation to, their religion; in their education; in their pursuits; their modes of living; their association; in their property; in their speculative views. This paradox represents the real world. People want others to accept them, so they change in order to conform to other people’s’ viewpoints. How can people expect to become a better version of themselves if they are constantly hiding behind their own shadow? Emerson forces us to advocate for ourselves and develop our own culture in which we can provide a foundation of efficiency and productivity in every aspect of our daily lives. In conclusion, Ralph Waldo Emerson emphasizes the importance of individuality and the impact it can create on the world around you. He persuades the reader to establish their own path and trust their intuition. His ability to convey proper word choice allows the reader to discover a deeper meaning of the text and realize that non-conformity is a form of strength that only you have the power to control.

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Self-Reliance Of Ralph Waldo Emerson. (2019, Aug 16). Retrieved October 1, 2022 , from
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