Imitation Is Suicide Essay

2196 words - 9 pages

“ Imitation is suicide;” is the most direct and accurate way to sum up the beliefs of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson wrote a work called “Self – Reliance”, which is where the last excerpt was taken; discussing his beliefs on how every man should approach life. The theory of self – reliance is based on thinking for one’s self, and not relying on the ideas of others. His following was strong, but probably his most renowned follower was Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau became a close friend the Emerson while studying under him. So close in fact, that Emerson allowed Thoreau to build a small cabin on his land near Walden Pond. This is the location where Thoreau wrote his popular book Walden.
In Walden, one can see the influence Emerson’s beliefs had on Thoreau. Thoreau was living out the idea of self – reliance in its truest form. He built a small cabin in the woods near Walden Pond more than a mile from the nearest town. The cabin was nothing more than necessary, and was not luxurious in any way. Which perfectly coincides with Emerson’s writings that one should cherish oneself not the property he owns. Many people look at material objects and judge a person by those, instead of judging the person by who they really are. His humble dwelling contained a minimum amount of furniture; which in and of itself even followed the guidelines of self – reliance. Emerson wrote when he has company, he does not try to please and entertain them. He feels as if his company should be attempting to please him. Thoreau has a simple living style because he does not need to impress anyone as long as he is content.
This separation from civilization allowed him to be his own person without the influence of the outside world. Although Thoreau was still in walking distance to the town, he was far enough away to avoid the pressure of every day life for the common man. In Walden, Thoreau wrote “ The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” This seems to be a “broad stroke of the brush” for one man to assume. However, when comparing the mass of men’s lives to the way Thoreau or Emerson believe life should be, it is easy to understand his view. Thoreau felt it was better to be raised by a wolf than to inherit a farm. This seems preposterous now, but it was even more outrageous in those times. Inheriting a farm in the 1800’s would mean a sound living and would be considered a great blessing. Instead, Thoreau saw it as a prison for the soul and mind of the man. A farmer is one of the most self – reliant people there are when it comes to the physical sense of the term. However the Emerson and Thoreau are not focused so much on the physical sense as they are on the spiritual sense. A young man who inherits a farm is this expected to continue maintaining the farm until his death. There is never a chance to explore what his heart or mind desire. The young man must do the work expected from him by his peers; instead of being able to find himself and what he loves to do. Which would...

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