Emerson Conformity

Decent Essays

In his writing, Emerson conveys a distaste for the polite façade he believes many people choose to put on in new company; this facade forces people to engage in bland conversations unless they choose to break free from their “prison uniforms.” Emerson sees conformity as an obstruction of truly original thoughts and beliefs. He states that once we are born “Nature is not slow to equip us in in the prison-uniform of the party to which we adhere. We come to wear one cut of face and figure, and acquire by degrees the gentlest asinine expression.” (Emerson 6) In Emerson’s eyes conformity is a grueling kafkaesque process that individuals quietly choose to follow. This facade is a “prison uniform” in Emerson’s eyes, which is to say he sees the …show more content…

Emerson writes that “The power men possess to annoy [him] [he gives] them by a weak curiosity.” (12) When Emerson “gives [company]… a weak curiosity,” he is submitting power to them and pays not only in this loss of power but in his irritation. In addition to losing power, a conformist may also be in pain when they feign interest. In putting on “the foolish face of praise, … the muscles… grow tight… and make the most disagreeable sensation.” Emerson communicates the great discomfort this compulsion to adhere brings, even stating that “no brave man will suffer [it] twice.” Emerson effectively argues that the pain of practicing a public persona is actually greater than encountering uncomfortable company, because while a man cannot avoid certain social interactions with complete success he can choose to be forthcoming about his disinterest in his peers. This relates to a greater theme in Emerson’s writing, that being true to one’s self ultimately instead of being true to etiquette leads to a more pleasant, authentic, and rewarding existence. This quote stood out to me because I related to it’s message instantaneously. I have been hyper aware of how I present myself to my peers since I was young. Throughout preschool and primary school I refused to cry in class -- or let my classmates see

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