- Pages: 3
- Word count: 619
- Category: Reliance
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In “Self-Reliance”, Ralph Waldo Emerson clearly displays many romantic values through his hope for man to trust themselves, his hope for non-conformity like in children, and the great value he puts into individuality and hard work. Emerson exhibits romantic values in “Self-Reliance” hoping that man will trust themselves, leading to true genius. To begin with, Emerson believes a true genius is one who speaks his own true heart.
A true Romantic belief, as Emerson puts it, is to “Trust thyself” (p.534). “To believe your own heart” (533) and express those beliefs, “that is true genius” (533). Emerson displays his belief that a deep connection with one’s self helps more than a high IQ. Second, Emerson gives example of geniuses that went against the status quo of their people. Emerson explains to his readers that “Moses, Plato, and Milton” (533), all men whom the people respected as geniuses of their times, “spoke not what men but what they thought” (533).
Much like other Romantics, Emerson believes that only men true to themselves will be divine enough “to exhibit anything divine” (533). Lastly, he believes a genius keeps true to his own beliefs even among non-believers. A great man must think that “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people” (536). If a man truly trust himself, leading to his spark of genius, than he “who in the midst of the crowd keep with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”
Emerson displays his hatred of conformity and the lack of conformity in children, proving his romantic values. First of all, Emerson displays the non-conformity of children and the excellence of it. “Infancy conforms to nobody” (535), yet all other people conform to the majority. Men lose their individualism and children become “the master of society independent, irresponsible” (534). Although men try to act as good people, a man’s “goodness must have some edge to it” (535), meaning that the motivation for kindness must try come from one’s self and not the laws of the world. Second, Emerson hopes to prove the problem with conformity to adults and later on push for the non-conformity of adults.
For men who conform to society, Emerson feels that “your conformity explains nothing” (5380 and that “every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right.” (535). Man carries no confidence and “dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage” (541).When man conforms he “shall be sure to be misunderstood” (538). Man cannot allow this to continue because “no law can be sacred to me but that of my nature” (535).
Every true man is a cause” (539), but if man continues to conform he shall have no cause. Emerson acknowledges the difficulty of non-conformity because with independence, “the world whips you with its displeasure” (537), but tell man that if he will, “do your thing, and I shall know you. Do your work and you shall reinforce yourself” (536). Lastly, at the same time, Emerson also shows the glory of men in non-conformity. One “cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature in the present, above time” (541) so they must let go of non-conformity so that “where he is, there is nature” (539).
I. Emerson demonstrates his romantic ideals through his value of one’s individual thoughts and how hard work trumps a great mind.
A. Emerson voices his thoughts that one hears that people conceive as genius that he may have already thought of, but didn’t voice.
B. Next, Emerson tells all that as long as one stays within his true nature, his true work is real genius.
C. Finally, Emerson tells all that everyone remains a true genius as long as they stay true to their own nature.