Self Reliance By Ralph Waldo Emerson: Non Conformity In Thought And Action

1804 words - 7 pages

In New England, Congregational Church grew into one of the biggest movements of religion, literature and philosophy as a reform in the early nineteenth-century in American history. A group of people including former Unitarian ministers made American transcendentalism started its transformation of the American intellect. These people wanted to reform the church because they saw it as a social religion which did not awake the individual’s realization of his own spirituality. These transcendentalists tried to urge their ideas of the significance of the self in spiritual life. American transcendentalism reached its peak in New England in the 1840s under the leadership of Ralph Waldo Emerson. As a former Unitarian minister, Emerson was at the forefront of this movement. He stated the importance of the American individualism in terms of moral and intellectual developments in Self Reliance. His essay supported the essence of the American transcendentalism and urged his readers that the individual is identical with the world and that the world exists in unity with God; therefore, there is no need for an outside institution. His essay did not address a specific group but it actually addressed all sorts of individuals in general. In his essay, he critically discussed the importance of American individualism, necessity of nonconformity and integrity by giving significant examples from the history. Moreover, his ideals which he represented in Self-Reliance became the inspiration for many important people in American history.
Firstly, Self-Reliance was one of the vital keys of writings that represented the ethic of American individualism. In Self Reliance, Emerson urged his readers to stand out when it comes to their individual thoughts without any fear of being misunderstood. For example, Emerson stated, “But God will not have his work make manifest by cowards. A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he said or done otherwise shall give him no peace.” (20). He emphasized the fact that people should believe in their thoughts and never hesitate to share it with others rather than keep it just because they were afraid of being misunderstood. Referring to God, he meant that the great works can never be done by the cowards. Emerson helped many important people with his ideals in American history such as Barack Obama. Obama also referred to this significant point of Self- Reliance in his inaugural speech and stated, “We understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of the shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted¬¬ for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.” (5). He used the word “faint-hearted” to highlight the fact that people must not be coward and share their individual thoughts with the world without any fear. He encouraged the audience and urged them that they must be brave in...

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