Ralph Waldo Emerson Individualism Analysis

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Transcendentalist writers believed that individualism positively contributed to society. This idea is seen throughout the writings of this time in many ways. Transcendentalist writers believed that conformity made society bland, and everyone would benefit from individualism. They also showed that following one’s own dreams instead of the common dreams is what leads to achievement in life. Additionally, transcendentalism represented the belief of individualism being the key to enlightenment. Overall, transcendentalist writers used their works to convey the message that individualism made for a more diverse and interesting world, led to true happiness, and opened up one’s mind. Transcendentalist writing shows the idea of conforming to the standards of society as outdated and wrong. The essay “Self- Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson shows this view throughout the piece. He states, “I hope in these days we have heard the last of conformity and consistency. Let the words be gazetted and ridiculous henceforward. Instead of the gong for dinner, let us hear a whistle from the Spartan fife. Let us never bow and apologize more.” Emerson states right within the quote that he hopes conformity ends. He wants everyone to be himself or herself or be an individual. The use of the metaphor of hearing the whistle from the Spartan fife or a small flute instead of hearing the gong for dinner symbolizes his want of hearing something different than what he and the rest of society always hear.
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