Discuss the similarities and differences of Emerson’s ” Self-reliance” and The Declaration of Independence
Thesis: The thesis of this paper is to compare and contrast the essay “ Self-Reliance” with the Declaration of Independence (United States)
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” There is a time in every man’s education” (Emerson) compared to ” When in the course of human events” (Declaration).
In his essay “ Self-Reliance”, the author Ralph Emerson states that “ There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide;” Here, the author tries to convey the fact that envy is the most foolish feeling and one should never try to be someone else. Each individual has his/her own share of strengths and weaknesses and trying to copy someone because you feel they’re better is foolish.
The lines “ When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another,” are the opening lines of the US Declaration of Independence. The lines convey the meaning that when in his course of life an individual feels it necessary to dislocate himself and assume political independence, then the reasons behind this independence should be explained.
Similarity: The similarity between these two quotes as that both follow the concept of transcendentalism. They both inherently believe in the individuality and goodness of people Contrast: The first one talks about the spiritual and cultural independence while the second one talks about political independence.
” The power that resides in him” (Emerson) compared to ” Which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them” (Declaration).
The lines “ the power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried” refers to the fact the power to overcome the society and be individualistic lies within the hands of each human being and he will not understand it unless he tries it out. Similarly, the quote “ Which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them” from Declaration states that each individual is entitled to his/her political independence and political individuality.
The contrast between the quotes can be drawn from the fact that the first one states that the tendency to be different is new to nature and that one cannot understand it before he tries it. On the other hand, the second quote states that it is already in the nature for the people to feel the necessity to break loose from the bonds of political dependence.
” Whose would be a man must be a non-conformist” (Emerson) compared to ” it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a government” (Declaration).
Similarity and Contrast: In the quote “ Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist”, the author Ralph Emerson says that for a person to be individualistic it is essential that the person tries to break the laws of the society and set new trends. Similarly, the quote “ it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a government” (Declaration)” states that each individual has the right and duty to usurp a government which has resorted to despotism.
The contrast between the two quotes is that the first one states to be individualistic a man needs to move differently from the manners of the society. On the other hand, the quote from Declaration states that the man needs to throw away or completely fight the government in order to gain political independence.