An anthology is a collection of works that portray a theme. One prevalent theme that is essential to the world around us is having individual rights. These rights are prominent in “Self-Reliance”, “From Bonifacius: Essays to Do Good”, "From Poems on Various Subjects. ‘On Being Brought from Africa to America.”, and "From Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: 'Chapter X,”. Within this anthology, the reader(s) will discover passages that represent the balancing act of individual rights versus societal rights in America.
In “Self-Reliance”, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, the audience can see a theme of a desire for an individualistic society. Ralph Emerson wrote: “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist” (935). This statement is saying that a true man makes his own destiny, by not conforming to the ways of the world, or other men. Also found in “Self-Reliance”, “There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion;…” (Emerson 934). This statement reinforces the idea that an individualistic society is best for all involved. Emerson’s point is that individuals should be happy with what they have accumulated in life, rather than being envious of what others have. He is implying that anyone who emulates another is succumbing to that person, which in return means the individual has become someone else and might as well have killed their own personality.
In “Self-Reliance, Emerson portrays the belief that individuals who follow their own instincts will prosper. This thought is backed up by his quote, “Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world” (Emerson 336). This quote tells the individualistic idea that if you free yourself to only follow your own instincts, you will be free from the troubles of the world. Another piece of evidence for this belief is, “It is easy in a 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” (Emerson 937). This proves that Emerson believed that it was easier for an individual to follow the example of the men who came before them; however, the world cannot advance if individuals only repeat what others have done. At the same time, Emerson is saying that an individual who follows their own thoughts will live happily among the larger population; however, they will maintain their solidarity. Emerson believed that individuals who do not conform to the ways of the world and follow their own path will prosper.
“From Bonifacius: Essays to Do Good ”, by Cotton Mather, demonstrates the belief that individuals who do good deeds will be honored. Mather was a puritan and used his writings to spread his beliefs, such as: “the kingdom of God in the world calls for innumerable services from us. To do such things...