Truth in Self Reliance

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s personal essay “Self Reliance” gives an opinionated, yet truthful, view on how a person should live their life. Emerson believes that in order for a person to be an actual person, they must think for themselves and do things for themselves; be self-reliant rather than follow the crowd like a herd of cattle. This rather blunt opinion gives off an air of truth.
When a person does the same things as everyone else and never uses their own intuition, or does anything for their own being, they aren’t actually an individual, seeing as they can’t even allow themselves to have their own opinions. Nothing good comes out of total conformity. As said by R. W. Emerson, “Good men must not obey the laws too well.” This happens to describe Emerson’s views rather well, telling us that we can’t follow every single law all the time because change and variety is necessary. Had the colonists never rebelled against England’s laws, America wouldn’t be formed.
Emerson also says, “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think.” If one agrees with this quote, then one would realize that they must believe in themselves and be able to rely upon and trust their own judgment and intuition, because in the end, it is only you who has to live with the decisions you make and the knowledge of those decisions. When a person worries and frets over what people will think of them and what peoples reactions will be, they aren’t being true to themselves. They hinder their own progress, their intuition, their individuality. If all that a person worries about is fitting in, being like everyone else and not doing something because its “unnatural, or not normal”, then they can not rely upon themselves and they have not yet become an individual. This is the concept Emerson is portraying, and I obviously find it quite truthful.
Lastly, Emerson is also remembered for saying, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” When Emerson declared this, he was telling his entire audience that to keep one idea without ever even thinking about changing that idea or that point of view, then they are brainless. In order to progress mentally, one must, at the least, acknowledge other points of view and if that’s the way they still think, then great. But if they continue to ignore the truth when it’s dancing right before their eyes, then they are brainless. One has to agree with this point. In one moment of their lifetime, everyone is right and wrong. But if someone refuses to admit their wrong although the truth is clear as crystal, than they have the brains of a peacock.
As it is clearly displayed, there is truth to be found in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance”. One may not agree with all of his ideas, but they have learned and grown from being able to identify with these truths. Thus is the reason I am able to find the agreeable truths of Emerson famous literary selection.

Truth in Self Reliance


Port Deposit, United States

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Artist's Description

For all those literary-knowledgeable people, this is a response to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance”

Artwork Comments

  • Katie Trzcinka
  • CrystalNoellyn
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