An Enemy Of The People By Ralph Waldo Emerson

903 WordsMar 14, 20164 Pages
"To believe that what is true in your private heart is true for all men — that is genius," wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his 1841 essay “Self-Reliance.” Emerson believes that every man has the potential to be “geniuses” if they are self contained and resist the influence of society. Dr. Stockmann’s actions in “An Enemy of the People,” reflect the ideas Emerson proposes. In the play, he challenged the authority of the town in a fight to rebuild the contaminated baths. It is clear that both Stockmann and Emerson are strong proponents of individualism. Stockmann claims that, “the strongest man is the one who stands alone,” [An Enemy of the People, Ibsen] and Emerson, “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string”[Self-Reliance, Emerson]. But does individualism really make you the better person? Both men are free thinkers and idealists. They are visionaries who reject have many accepted opinions, and favor ones that are less practical but ideal in their respective minds. This desire for idealism blinds an individual and leads to ignorance of others’ opinions and refusal to compromise, ultimately leading to failure. Emerson was a freethinker and a trailblazer for the American transcendentalist movement in the mid-1800s. Emerson’s freethinking values are apparent in “Self-Reliance,” when he discusses the importance of nonconformity. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines,” he writes. He
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