What might a slaveholder think about this essay? What about a factory worker or an abolitionist? Explain.
Slave holders would probably oppose Emerson’s essay because it suggests that they are conformist because they own slaves. Factory works and abolitionists would probably support Emerson’s ideas because they work hard and go against the norms.
What is your view of self-reliance? What do you think of the essay?
The repetition of similar ideas in similar grammatical structures is called parallelism. When Emerson writes,” envy is ignorance; imitation is suicide,” he is using parallel structure. List other examples from Self-reliance and explain the effect they create.
“In attempt his genius deserts him; no muse befriends; no invention, no hope.’ Here Emerson emphasizes the hopelessness of little or weak effort.
According to the selection, whom or what should every person trust?
Every person should trust himself or herself.
What will make a person relieved and happy?
A person is relieved and happy when he has done his or her best.
What attitude should individuals take toward conformity?
People should despise conformity.
According to Emerson, what factors define a great person? What does he suggest about the lives of great people?
Great people are misunderstood. They accept their circumstances and know their own power, express their divine natures completely, contradict themselves and refuse to conform socially.
In the first paragraph, what do you think Emerson means by “that divine idea which each of us represents”? How is this philosophical assumption integral to the entire essay?
He means the individuality of each person. He believes that relying on and expressing ourselves is the way to a happy, meaningful and worthwhile life.
In the fourth paragraph, what do you think Emerson writes, “Whoso would be a man must be a non-conformist.” Are his ideas too harsh toward those who conform to society’s demands? Why or why not?
Yes, he is too rigid. He is stating his opinion and doesn’t seem to care about other people who might not be as smart or strong as he is.