Emerson's "Self-Reliance" Analytical Essay by Shaad

Emerson's "Self-Reliance"
This paper discusses Ralph Waldo Emerson's work "Self-Reliance" and looks at the mystical message of the essay and its susceptibility to misinterpretation.
# 116491 | 1,510 words | 3 sources | MLA | 2008 | BD
Published by on Oct 05, 2009 in Literature (American) , Philosophy (Metaphysics) , Sociology (General)

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In this article, the writer clarifies the message of Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance". It is stressed that the essay is a mystical tract and is susceptible to misinterpretation. To illustrate, two points of view are considered, those of Michael Lopez and George Kateb. The writer discusses that Emerson points out that self-reliance entails contemplation, but that does not imply a severance from society. Lopez takes this dichotomy between the self and the world and imagines it to be a machine where there is friction between the two poles, and this friction generates positive activity. The writer notes that Kateb, on the other hand, sees self-reliance as the substratum to democratic society. Self-reliance implies nonconformism, and this is the key train that allows for democracy to exist. The essay argues that, while both Lopez and Kateb gain profound insights from Emerson's essay, they are ultimately misguided in extracting utilitarian ends to self-reliance.

From the Paper:

"Ralph Waldo Emerson was a vital influence to his fellow countrymen during the Jacksonian era, a crucial period regarding the emergence of distinctive American character. Not only to his fellow Americans, Emerson was also an inspiration to many around the world. His philosophy of Transcendentalism found such beautiful expression in his writings that they touched readers at all levels, as well as the many who attended his public lectures. "Self-Reliance" is probably his most famous essay, containing most of the essential lessons he had to impart, and the title itself reflecting the overriding message of all his teachings. The particular message that we glean from this essay is that the highest virtue comes from depending on no other but the guidance of the soul."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Self-reliance, and Other Essays. Chelmsford, MA: Courier Dover Publications, 1993.
  • Kateb, George. Emerson and Self-Reliance. London: Sage Publications, 1995.
  • Lopez, Michael. Emerson and Power: Creative Antagonism in the Nineteenth Century. DeKalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 1996.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Emerson's "Self-Reliance" (2009, October 05) Retrieved July 12, 2020, from https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/emerson-self-reliance-116491/

MLA Format

"Emerson's "Self-Reliance"" 05 October 2009. Web. 12 July. 2020. <https://www.academon.com/analytical-essay/emerson-self-reliance-116491/>