Self-Reliance Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What do you know about Ralph Waldo Emerson?

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer and philosopher. He was a Unitarian minister and came from a long line of ministers. However, in 1832, at the age of 29, he began to doubt his faith and resigned the clergy. Today he is known as the founder of Transcendentalism. After resigning as a minister he became a writer and speaker and was well-known for his oratorical skills.

2. Explain the opening quote to Emerson's essay, "Ne te quaesiveris extra" and why he uses it.

"Ne te quaesiveris extra" is Latin for "Do not look outside yourself." This phrase sums up the arguments Emerson makes throughout his essay for looking within for guidance rather than looking to others. It is interesting, however, to note that Emerson uses Latin here while vehemently rejecting to the use of "the phraseology of some old mouldered nation in another country" later in his essay.

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