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. What does Emerson claim is the virtue "in most request"?

2. Who does Emerson say babies conform to?

3. What does conformity explain?

4. What does Emerson say a man speaking his opinions would do to other men?

5. What does Emerson give as his reason for insisting that we "...must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny..."?

Short Essay Questions

1. What does Emerson say about technological advancement?

2. Explain what Emerson is referring to in saying, in paragraph 13, "Leave your theory, as Joseph his coat in the hand of the harlot, and flee."

3. What does Emerson say man no longer dares to do at the beginning of paragraph 23?

4. What is Emerson's stance on philanthropy and charity?

5. Explain Emerson's theory on the importance of kings for the world as stated in paragraph 20.

6. In paragraph 38, Emerson explains the relationship between education and self-reliance. Describe this relationship.

7. Explain which characteristics Emerson says, in paragraph 11, that a person must be equipped with in order to withstand the consequences of nonconformity.

8. In paragraph 7, Emerson writes: "If I am the Devil's child, I will live then from the Devil." What point is he trying to make with this provocative claim?

9. At the beginning of paragraph 9, Emerson states: "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule ... may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness." What does he mean by that?

10. 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?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

In paragraph 15, Emerson writes: "Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment." Explain this idea, clarifying Emerson's views on overt actions and describing what his figurative language at the end of the sentence means.

Essay Topic 2

What does Emerson say about virtue as it relates to kings and nobles vs. common people? What do you think Emerson is trying to persuade people to do with his writings on this topic? Why?

Essay Topic 3

Discuss the principles of the Age of Enlightenment that preceded Emerson's work. Explain the relationship between Emerson's philosophies and those of the Enlightenment.

(see the answer keys)

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