Individualism and how it is evident in Ralph Waldo Emerson's story "Self Reliance".

Essay by jared_rx7College, UndergraduateA, December 2002

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In society today it is very hard to be your own individual self. We see people as either individualists or conformists. If you're not with the "in" crowd then you are considered to be "weird" or "un-cool". Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance" had several themes that focused on the topic of individualism. Emerson said that "imitation is suicide," (Emerson p.867) He explains that if you are not true in the sense of individualism, then you are then committing suicide. As society will look at you with a different perspective than at other people; it will always single you out in a crowd due to this. He describes how you must take yourself for who and what you are, and you should neither change yourself nor imitate others. He further says that "Envy is ignorance." (Emerson p. 867) This ties up with what you have and how you feel about it.

If you look at other's possessions and are jealous of them, you are not looking at what you yourself have but you are thinking that your possessions are better than theirs. Therefore you are being ignorant of your own possessions. Emerson also says "We but half express ourselves." (Emerson p.867 ) If you believe that you yourself cannot be depended on, then you can't rely on others. You become unconfident in what you do and therefore don't trust the other person. This affects your morals and has a very negative effect on the human psyche. People will try to keep a distance from you because of the behavior that results from this. He reinforces the concept "accept your transcendent destiny,"(Emerson p.867) that you must take yourself and who and what you are; especially the events you experienced as they happened in the past. They make up who you...