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Self-Reliance Summary
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Everything you need to understand or teach Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  • Self-Reliance Summary & Study Guide
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  • 1 Encyclopedia Article
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  • 30 Self-Reliance Lessons
  • 20 Activities
  • 180 Multiple Choice Questions
  • 60 Short Essay Questions
  • 20 Essay Questions
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Self-Reliance Summary


"Self-Reliance," first published in Essays (First Series) in 1841, is widely considered to be the definitive statement of Ralph Waldo Emerson's philosophy of individualism and the finest example of his prose. The essay is a fabric woven of many threads, from a journal entry written as early as 1832 to material first delivered in lectures between 1836 and 1839.

Emerson was known for his repeated use of the phrase "trust thyself." "Self-Reliance" is his explanation both systematic and passionate—of what he meant by this and of why he was moved to make it his catch-phrase. Every individual possesses a unique genius, Emerson argues, that can only be revealed when that individual has the courage to trust his or her own thoughts, attitudes, and inclinations against all public disapproval.

According to the conventions of his time, Emerson uses the terms "men" and "mankind" to address all humanity, and the multitude of examples he...

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Study Pack

The Self-Reliance Study Pack contains about 95 pages of study material in 16 products, including:

Self-Reliance Study Guide

Lesson Plan

All teaching products sold separately.

Self-Reliance Lesson Plans contain 148 pages of teaching material, including:

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