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Ralph Waldo Emerson

Essay by   •  April 20, 2011  •  Essay  •  302 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,365 Views

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In his well known writing piece Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson attacks the idea of conformity. He uses his individualistic views about the world to try and convince his audience to always "Trust thyself:"(1 Emerson). This is how simple Emerson tries to make his stand against conformity. The quote "Trust thyself:"(1 Emerson)is the complete opposite of what how a conformist thinks. A conformist is a person who uses action or behavior in correspondence with socially accepted standards, conventions, rules or laws. Conformity happens with one purpose, to be "accepted" by society. Emerson critiques the idea of being "accepted" by society. He states "Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree to the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater." (2). This quote shows the act of conforming in a business setting, to help better the employees status within the company. Emerson wants his audience to make the connection to the action of conforming within society in order to improve social status. Most likely in the eyes of other people, social status will be accepted when a person conforms. Emerson does not want his audience to think about the opinion of the other members of society. His main focus in Self-Reliance is the opinion you have about yourself. He mentions the idea of living in solitude on page 3. Emerson states "It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own." (3 Emerson). This quote brings the audience back to the idea of trusting ourselves and living as an individual. He challenges us to stand out while everyone is trying to fit in by conforming.

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