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Introduction & Overview of Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson

This Study Guide consists of approximately 59 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Self-Reliance.
This section contains 178 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
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Self-Reliance Summary & Study Guide Description

Self-Reliance Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Further Reading and a Free Quiz on Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson.


"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 gives of individuals who exhibited self-reliance and became great are all men. These factors somewhat date Emerson's presentation; the underlying ideas, however, remain powerful and relevant.

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This section contains 178 words
(approx. 1 page at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Self-Reliance Study Guide
Self-Reliance from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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