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Ralph Waldo Emerson Essays and Research Papers

Instructions for Ralph Waldo Emerson College Essay Examples


Total Pages: 5 Words: 1540 Bibliography: 3 Citation Style: APA Document Type: Essay

Essay Instructions: Ralph Waldo Emerson
Self Reliance

Few would doubt that Ralph Waldo Emerson stands at the top of the list of American writers. A site put up by the US government, celebrating the democratic values of Emerson says:
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) was democracy's poet and the central figure in the Transcendental movement that invigorated American intellectual life in the mid-nineteenth century. Transcendentalism defined "reason" as the highest human faculty, the individual's innate capacity to grasp beauty and truth by allowing full play to the intellect and emotions. The movement emerged from a small group of intellectuals centered in Concord, Massachusetts, and Emerson proved not only its intellectual leader but its most eloquent voice as well.
Trained as a Unitarian minister, Emerson left the church in 1832 to devote himself to writing and teaching and fostering a unique American philosophy. In "The American Scholar" (1837), he called upon his countrymen to achieve an intellectual independence from Europe to complement the political independence they had already achieved. As Henry Clay had commented, "We look too much abroad. . . . Let us become real and true Americans." In his address to Harvard, Emerson asked, "Why should not we have a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of tradition and a religion by revelation to us? Let us demand our own works and laws and worship." Oliver Wendell Holmes called the speech "Our intellectual Declaration of Independence."
In his poetry and essays, Emerson celebrated the diversity and freedom he found in American life, and he demanded that his fellow citizens be worthy of their freedom by daring to be independent in their individual lives. In this, his most famous essay, he declared that "Nothing is sacred but the integrity of your own mind." The quest for self-reliance was really a search for harmony in the universe, which could only be achieved by each person seeking his or her own unique means of self-fulfillment. Emerson scandalized proper society by his attacks on organized religion, which he believed stifled the soul; for him, the divinity of each person lay in the individuality that could be sought in a free society. Even there, he noted, the idealist could be misunderstood.
Originally Emerson eschewed the "real" world for his beloved ideas. Although he opposed slavery, he avoided for as long as possible the radical abolitionist societies calling for an end to Negro bondage. But when he believed that his hero, Daniel Webster, had betrayed public trust by supporting the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, Emerson attacked him publicly. In the next decade, he helped hide runaway slaves and spoke out openly for the abolitionist cause.

Please read:
Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Read through this passage quickly. It is a long passage and you don't have to know it all well. But there is one theme that goes through that is important here. Emerson says, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.". Clearly he sees critical thinking as a central part of a person's view on life. Bravery, courage, and the like extend as much from the mind as from the heart.
{note: it is a long passage, so search for words like "bravery" and "conformity" and the like to find the right part of the passage.}

How is non-conformism related to bravery in Emerson's view of "self-reliance??

Please write a five-page paper answering this question and upload it to coursenet by the end of this module.

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: Emerson and Hawthorne

Total Pages: 3 Words: 993 Sources: 2 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Research Paper

Essay Instructions: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne may be thought of as an antagonistically linked pair in the literary period know as the "American Renaissance." Using what you know of Emersonian thought, specifically as it relates to the literary symbol, discuss the similarities and differences you see in each Hawthorne's creation of his most symbolic utterances: the pink ribbon of Faith and the "A" in The Scarlet Letter.

Excerpt From Essay:

Essay Instructions: Which of Emerson?s essays, ?Self Reliance? or ?The American Scholar? would appeal more to a college student today? Why is this so? Explain the reasons for your choice and allow Emerson to assist you by your quoting key passages from his writings.

Sources to use:
The Norton Anthology of American Literature 5th edition vol. 1

Ralph Waldo Emerson: ?The American Scholar?, ?Self Reliance?

Excerpt From Essay:

Title: Ralph Waldo Emerson's Literature during the 1800s

Total Pages: 2 Words: 676 Works Cited: 0 Citation Style: MLA Document Type: Research Paper

Essay Instructions: This short two page paper needs to be split into two parts.
Part One: After reading the essays "Self-Reliance" and "The American Scholar" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, what character traits should the new American develop and to what goals should he/she aspire? Explain Emerson''s values and ideas which he considered to being an American.

Part Two: Become personally involved with the age of the new American. Write a letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson. Question him on his thoughts of Transendentalism, the value of democracy vs. monarchy, the plight of the American Indian, what are American values - aren''t they just a version of British laws and ideas? In other words, confront Emerson with his issues.

Excerpt From Essay:

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