Emerson is a world renown writer in the literary field. He has written and authored several books of inspiration. The main poem which has received lots of praise from academic scholars is the poem on self reliance which he authored in the year 1814. Emerson had a very good background for his future prospects. This is because he was a member of a very holy family as his father was a church minister in the early 1800’s. From the effects put on him by his father, he also ended up becoming a priest which greatly gave the foundation to his becoming a very remarkable inspirational writer in the history of mankind (Richardson, 1995). Although his father died while Ralph still was at a tender age, this never compromised his ability to venture into the world of literature.
His poem on self reliance is based on three very distinct attributes. Firstly, it speaks about the importance of self reliance and its entire scope. This is covered in paragraph one through seventeen. The next issue discussed in the poem is the issue of self reliance and individuality which is covered from paragraph eighteen all through to paragraph thirty two. The last aspect is the discussion on the relationship between self reliance and conformity. This is available from paragraph thirty three all through to the end of the poem. The author tries to explain the issues bordering brevity, courage, conformity and self determination as the ways of attaining self actualization in life. All these attributes would lead to an individual or group of individuals becoming self reliant (Emerson,1814).
This poem teaches every individual to trust himself or herself. Every person has a very unique opinion and voice in the world or universe as a whole (McAleer, 1984). These opinions and voices are usually shut down or blocked whenever we come into contact with the society as the society tries to dictate what kind of individual we should be or not be in the ultimate end. The society aims at creating wealth and economic status while an individual basically builds himself for a better expression and total fulfillment of life objectives.
As an individual, a person desires to take life slowly, while savoring every moment to express himself or herself then explore the numerous skills and talents available. On the contrary, the society wants individuals to be of huge shots, put their education towards a single profession or career. It expects us to weed out competitors in order to attain the ultimate success. This would make us more money than our needs require. As much as the societal needs are deeply engrossed in our minds, we must learn to trust our own self instincts than what the society dictates for us. This is the thematic influence in the poem on self reliance by Emerson.
He states that in solitude, an individual has a voice that grows faint and very inaudible with the entry into the world. Some of the thoughts and opinions presented in solitude might cause fear once they are made available to the community. The society is mainly based on the fear for chaos. This therefore, implies that any person trying to deviate from these norms may be considered as the other in the immediate society (McAleer, 1984). The fear of alienation bars these voices from living a solitude form of lifestyle and thereby embarking on the realms of the society.
Individuals who work tirelessly to fulfill their desires in the society need not to be extremely proud of these achievements at all. This implies that the acquisition of property is just but a mere accident. Once an individual trusts himself and works towards self development through discovering the innermost talents, then he or she should not accept the society’s wrong and unacceptable reward towards property (Emerson,1814). A very ordinary citizen who dedicates his service to better humanity is just similar to the greatest king on earth and should be rewarded with equal conformity. The most important reward is the knowledge of oneself and to fully trust in the same.
There are indeed three factors to consider in this case. These are fulfillment versus success, conformity versus self expression and the group versus solitude. He does not want individuals to stay solitude as humans are social beings, but he rather wants individuals to discover themselves away from the influence of the society. This would then help an individual to face the society knowing very well that the very society is the source of fulfillment and the cultivation towards self. Practically speaking, the power structure in the society based on wealth is a response towards the chaos in the world. By embracing the whole idea, people may be fulfilled to be happy eventually in their entire lifetime (Richardson, 1995). It is therefore proper to learn to trust ourselves and keep the spirit of letting go extremely difficult situations.
On matters pertaining to individualism, Emerson clearly asserts that it is important to think for oneself rather than relying on other people’s ideas and attitudes. He encourages the information gained individually from experience as opposed to the information gained from books. He claims "To believe that what is true in your private heart is true for all men and indeed that is genius." A person who disbelieves his intuition and thus relies on other people lacks the power of creativity required for bold and robust individualism.
Self trust in an individual is the main theme in the first part of the poem. He believes that the fact of relying on another individual’s judgment is the beginning of cowardice. It manifests itself without hope or inspiration. An individual with self esteem exhibits originality and is often in the like of a child. He is unspoiled by the selfish wants yet he is mature as opposed to the normal child (Buell, 2003). We ought to be guides and adventurers who are geared towards the action of achieving a model of classical dirge of disembarking from the chaos of this world. Symbolically, children provide the models of self reliant attitudes because they are very young to be hypocritical, cynical or hesitant.
There is a great importance in an individual being resistant to the pressure amounting from the external norms in the society. The maturity process is a process of conformity according to Emerson. He therefore, challenges this phenomenon in the society. The pressures in the society try very much to conspire in order to defeat the self reliance among the members of the same society. Emerson states in one of his introductory paragraphs "Who so ever would be a man, must be a nonconformist." He continues to assert that there is no single law that is sacred more than the nature of an individual. The only right to an individual is just immediately after his or her constitution which implies that the only wrong thing is that which is against the very personal constitution. It is much better to be in the true spirit of an evil nature than to behave correctly due to society’s convections and demands (Emerson,1814).
Emerson rejects most of the society’s moral sentiments. For example, he believes that the abolitionist should think of his family and the immediate community at the expense of thinking about the black folks who are over thousand miles away. On to the charity organizations, Emerson believes that the donation through organizations is pure joke and thinks that donations should be channeled directly to an individual. The act of charitable giving is very actual and real as compared to the abstract or theoretical morality. It is better for one to live obscurely and truly than to expose ones goodness to the general public. There is no clear distinction for sentiments that are ignored or praised in public. All in all, they still provide the same conviction to the individual deep within himself or herself.
It is very paramount for an individual to act independently irrespective of the pressures around him. One must do all that concerns him, but not what the others think (Emerson,1814). The greatest man is that who while in the midst of a large crowd, maintains the posture of an impeccable sweetness of the solitude independence. Here, Emerson contrasts the individual with the society. The crowd in this case is the society at large. Cautiously, he does not advocate for an individual to physically withdraw from the social interactions of other people. There exist a great difference between the enjoyment of solitude and maintaining the position of a social hermit.
In a nut shell, Emerson believes that there is a lot of undoubtable reasons to object the principle of conformity.
The acquiescing to the life in public by a person simply wastes the person’s life whether or not it is a general opinion. This prevents an individual from letting the public know your real personality. The actual energy used in allegiance maintenance of the communities opinion saps up the efforts that could have been devoted towards the vital act of creating better standards in the society. It blocks an individual from making unique contributions in the society. All that seems true are not the actual truth as the adventurers of public opinions are formally known as hypocrites. This is seen right from their facial expressions and also in the way and manner in which they behave in an awkward manner. All in all, Emerson believes that conformity is a source of corruption which tries to falsify our lives and action in the ultimate end (Emerson,1814).