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"self-Reliance" Outline

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Mina Iskarous

English 2 H

Mr. Healy

"Self-Reliance" Outline

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



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