Transcendentalism In Ralph Waldo Emerson And Thoreau's Self-Reliance

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Transcendentalism In Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance”, he expresses that one should never conform but instead follow one’s own mind. He wrote this while he helped start the Transcendentalist movement. In Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, he explains that it is okay to disobey the rule of law if it is unjust. This is written in response to the questions he was ask on why he went to jail. Both of these works were published around the same time. “Self-Reliance” was published in 1841. “Civil Disobedience” was published in 1849. These two essays can be compared through the objectives, writings, and social implications. To begin, the objective of both works are similar because they stress individualism. The purpose of “Self-Reliance” is to show that a person …show more content…
The two thinkers speak about what changes and reforms need to be made in society. According to Emerson, people are almost always willing to conform to society, and he states that “self-reliance is its aversion” (3). He tries to show the readers that they must be willing to speak the truth without being afraid of what others will say (Valdosta). Emerson says that to be a conformist in this world will get you nowhere and that “imitation is suicide” (2). Thoreau argues that each individual should declare independence from unjust laws, and that “it is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right”. He thought citizens should never give up their conscience to the law. He states, “that government is best which governs not at all” meaning he does not agree with a government that takes part in a person’s life (Thoreau). He did not believe government played any kind of important role in society. The government tries to constantly control every aspect of everyone’s life, but it should allow its people to decide major issues. These essays inspired civil war advocates, abolitionists, and war protesters after they were

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