Self-Reliance Essay

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Norvell is an independent educational writer who specializes in English and literature. She holds degrees in linguistics and journalism and has done graduate work in theology. In this essay, she discusses three reasons why Emerson's frequent references to famous men weaken his argument in "Self-Reliance."

Frequent references to historical figures and famous contemporaries are a hallmark of Emerson's essays, and the technique is prominent in "Self-Reliance." Emerson mentions scores of well-known men from a wide range of cultures, eras, and disciplines. Most of the men are named as positive examples of the traits Emerson associates with self-reliance. For example, in a single sentence Emerson names Pythagoras, Socrates, Jesus, Luther, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton as great men who were unaffected by society's disapproval. A few are given as examples of men who, through no fault of their own, are too much revered—men whose recorded thoughts and passed-down ideas...

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This section contains 1,500 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Self-Reliance Study Guide
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