Emerson-Thoreau Essay, Research Paper
Emerson and ThoreauEveryone in the world is an individual. We have the right to be who we are and to live each day to the fullest. Ralph Waldo Emerson discusses individuality in his essay from “Self-Reliance.” He has many ideas in his essay, mostly to be individuals and to not waste time conforming to society. Emerson also suggests not wasting time conforming to society. Emerson also suggests not wasting time out of your everyday life doing things you don t want to do; things you do just because everyone else does them. Henry David Thoreau, a disciple of Emerson, says in his essay from “Where I Lived and What I Lived For,” incorporates ideas from Emerson. Thoreau takes Emerson s individuality and molds it into a life, living in the woods away from society, so that he can become his own person. He takes some of Emerson s ideas of individuality and living each day to the fullest and expands them. Emerson s continual emphasis of individualism is the main theme of his essay. He doesn t want people to conform to society. He wants people to be individuals and to live their own lives. Once you act like an individual, people we see that you are your own person. “Speak your latent conviction and it shall be the universal sense” (234), which means say what you want about something, if that s how you feel. People will see from observation that acting on your feelings isn t a bad thing at times. Emerson wants people to believe in themselves. He says, “Trust thyself; every heart vibrates to that iron string” (234). We must accept where we are placed in the world. We must accept what God has 2given us and all that we are dealt. “Accept the place the divine Providence has found for you” (234). “And we are now men and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny” (234). Accept everything into the highest standard because those were the cards dealt to you. Another idea brought to us by Emerson is that self-reliance is a deviation from conforming to society. Self-reliance is about your values and who you are individually. “Absolve you to yourself and you shall have the suffrage of the world” (234). When you get to know yourself that is an award in itself. You must know yourself before you act like someone else. Thoreau incorporates the idea of accepting yourself in his essay from Walden. He lives in the woods and learns to accept nature in his surroundings. He realizes that not only are humans important, but every living thing is too. He tries to give meaning to everything of nature that he sees. “It is well to have some water in your neighborhood, to give buoyancy to and float the earth” (240). He has learned to accept himself as well as his surroundings. After accepting them, he gives them life and gives them meaning. By doing this, he is more in-touch with the world and can better appreciate life. Emerson introduces another idea to his readers. When you conform to society or a higher power, you lose who you are. Because you become part of something else, that you might not believe in, you lose your identity little by little. “It loses your time and blurs the impression of your character” (235). Don t waste time doing what society wants you to do. When you contribute to something you don t believe in, you lose who you are. Wasting time doing what society wants you do, only takes away time doing what you want to do. “Else, if you would be a man, speak what you think today in words as hard as
3cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again” (235). You must say things today because there is no time like the present. Thoreau takes Emerson s idea of not wasting time and runs with it. The majority of Thoreau s essay tells us, in a nut-shell, to live each day to the fullest. This is emphasized many ways. First, Thoreau goes to great lengths talking about the importance of morning. He believes this is a very important time because it gives us a chance to renew ourselves everyday. He describes the bath tub with engravings as saying “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, again, and forever again” (240). Thoreau believes it is important to move on from the past and to look forward to the future. “That man who does not believe that each day contains an earlier, more sacred, and auroral hour than he has yet profaned, has despaired of life, and is pursuing a descending and darkening way” (240). Morning is a time to renew yourself, and be at peace with nature. Any man who is unaware of this sacred time might be headed on the wrong path. Another idea is that we must learn to simplify our life because when doing too much, we might lose track of the important things. “I say, let you affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand” (241). “Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” Simplifying life is the best way to be truly happy is what Thoreau is saying. When we get caught up in so many affairs, some which are unnecessary, we just waste time; waste life. Concentrating on the important aspects in our life is how Thoreau wants us to live. Also, because of something petty, we shouldn t stop life. Let things be as they are. When describing his shallow stream he says, “Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” Things come and go constantly, but you will always remain and must learn to accept it. 4 The ideas from Emerson and Thoreau teach us something that is very valuable. No matter who you are, or where you live or what circumstances surround you, accepting it will help you live your life better. Accepting everything is important because everything is on the earth for some reason. Living each day to the fullest is the only way to live your life. Concentrate on the good things, not bad. Don t waste time being something you re not. Being an individual shows others who you are and that you don t need to join what society thinks and wants. Keeping things simple and being ourselves is what Emerson and Thoreau want us to do.