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Emerson Individualism

Decent Essays
Emphasis on the Individual
During the 19th century Romantic period, an intellectual movement known as Transcendentalism emerged. Individualism was one of the fundamental ideas of Transcendentalists. This new group believed that the individual's purity would be corrupted by organized religious and political parties. Literature in this period was affected by tenets of Transcendentalism. Many of the authors who believed in this movement expressed their ideas in their works. Transcendentalist writers supported individualism by advocating self-reliance, nonconformity, and resistance to unjust government.
Individualism was often shown in transcendentalist's works by insisting that oneself must be self-reliant. Writer Ralph Waldo Emerson was a key leader in the Transcendental movement. In his work, "Self-Reliance", Emerson advocated self-reliance when he wrote "To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, --that is genius" (1334). In this piece, Emerson also preached "Insist of yourself; never imitate" (1348) to his readers. He believed that an individual was truly their best when they had independent thinking and relied only on their own thoughts. Emerson claimed that an individual's true genius cannot be taught or learned from another person.
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Henry David Thoreau believed in prioritizing one's conscience thoughts over the ideas and laws of government. He argued that people should do what they feel is right and not conform to an unjust institution just because the majority is. In his essay "Civil Disobedience", Thoreau claimed to agree with the mottos "That government is best which governs least;" (1577) and "That government is best which governs not at all;" (1577). Thoreau did not resist government entirely, but only the specific parts that he deemed immoral or
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