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Individualism Essay

1124 words - 5 pages

Hum 201
March 16, 2013


One of the major figures in the movement of Transcendentalism was Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson’s essay “Self Reliance” explains his beliefs of individualism, human purpose, the use of nature and social responsibility. Although I don’t believe we will ever have a true understanding of our purpose on earth, I feel that we all need to believe in something in order to feel that we are productive additions to society and hold purpose.
In modern day society examples of self reliance, which is close to my heart pertains myself and my brother. I as a single mother faced struggles in order to provide my daughter with the essentials of survival. ...view middle of the document...

Do not try to be someone else for that would not be original and it would not be you but the mere imitation of someone else. The fact that he says imitation is suicide is saying that your life would hold no meaning it would be a wasted life. This quote is powerful and true to me. The beauty of people is their uniqueness and what sets them apart from everyone else. Excepting whom you are and staying true to that makes you a strong and unique individual.
The next quote “Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each share holder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater"- Ralph Waldo Emerson is saying that if you conform you will lose your identity. Regardless if it is conforming to the government or an organized religion you lose a piece of your individuality by allowing others to direct you and think for you. The understanding that I am getting from this is that you become a heard of sheep that follow others instead of living off of your own instincts which is what a man should do. Emerson’s belief seems to be that by conforming you will lose the sense of who you really are. The last part that talks about securing bread and surrender liberty and culture, would have the meaning today as securing an income just as share holders in a company and compromise your-self to achieve this. The entire meaning in short is that conforming your-self happens because people believe that this leads to what they believe is success and in doing so they will lose who they truly are.
People tend to believe that if they can move away their problems and struggles will stay behind. I have always used the saying “the grass isn’t greener on the other side”. Emerson’s quote “Traveling is a fool's paradise. Our first journeys discover to us the indifference of places. At home I dream that at Naples, at Rome, I can be intoxicated with beauty, and lose my sadness. I pack my trunk, embrace my friends, embark on the sea, and at last wake up in Naples, and there beside...

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