Self-Reliance Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Who does Emerson say babies conform to?

2. Who or what does Emerson say he is living his life for?

3. "...the man in the street, finding no worth in himself..." feels poor when he looks on what?

4. What does Emerson say will happen if one does not put his heart into his work?

5. What is an institution the lengthened shadow of?

Short Essay Questions

1. In paragraph 14, Emerson explains the relationship between being misunderstood and greatness. Explain this relationship.

2. Explain Emerson's comparison in paragraph 15 of a character to an acrostic.

3. What does Emerson mean in paragraph 6 when he describes the voices we hear in solitude as "grown faint and inaudible as we enter into the world"?

4. What does Emerson mean when he states in paragraph 15: "No man can violate his nature. All the sallies of his will are rounded in by the law of his being."?

5. Emerson states in paragraph 3 that "We are now men." What does he insist that we must do?

6. Why do other members of society "need" us to be consistent according to Emerson in paragraph 12?

7. At the beginning of paragraph 16, Emerson says that "of one will, the actions will be harmonious, however unlike they seem." Explain this quote.

8. In paragraph 24, Emerson compares us to children. Explain this comparison.

9. After giving his example of "boys who are sure of a dinner" in paragraph 5, Emerson laments that adults cannot return to this neutrality. He explains what he believes would happen if we could. What does he believe would happen?

10. In paragraph 21, Emerson begins an explanation of the "reason of self-trust." Explain very briefly the question he is asking and the answer he finds.

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What is the relationship between art, literature and philosophy described by Emerson in "Self-Reliance"? Explain what Emerson says about the effects art and literature have on the way people form their own opinions and his opinion on the subject.

Essay Topic 2

In paragraph 26, Emerson says, "A man or a company of men, plastic and permeable to principles ... by the law of nature must overpower and ride all cities, nations, kings, rich men, poets, who are not." Explain what Emerson means by this quote and give your own opinion on this subject, backing your opinion up with specific arguments.

Essay Topic 3

Explain Emerson's stance on the significance of our past acts, both for ourselves and for society. In what way does Emerson say our past acts are important for society? What does he think about this importance? What does he say about how we should feel about our own past?

(see the answer keys)

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