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Rhetorical Analysis Of Emerson 's ' The Principles Of Individualism

Decent Essays
Through rational argument, Emerson stresses that you must trust yourself to achieve greatness from your own genius, to realize your potential, and to be self-reliant. Your inner genius, when tapped into, allows you to build self-reliance. This follows, similarly, the principles of individualism. Emerson uses rhetoric to explain that through trusting yourself, society, and God, you can truly be a self-reliant individual. What is individualism? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, “(1) a doctrine that the interests of the individual are or ought to be ethically paramount; (2) the conception that all values, rights, and duties originate in individuals.” What is self-reliance? The M-W dictionary defines it as, “reliance on one’s…show more content…
As Emerson puts it, “In self-trust all the virtues are comprehended.” Emerson restates that it is within the individual to find his power. Untested power, which is potential energy, is merely theoretical, while power in use, which is kinetic energy, is real. At the beginning of self-reliance, you must test out the power that resides within.
After you trust yourself, you must learn where to put your trust in society. Each person works individually first, but as part of a larger group, each person must work as a team. As Emerson states, “Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.” Unfortunately, for society to work, each person must sacrifice some individuality. Each person in society is a puzzle piece. No puzzle piece is a perfect square, but they each have their place. Individual pieces fit to form a whole picture. Society defines the whole man.
By placing some – it would be unwise to place all – trust in society, you will certainly suffer some abuses. In the essay, Emerson says, “All the old abuses in society, universal and particular, all unjust accumulations of property and power, are avenged in the same manner. Fear is an instructor of great sagacity, and the herald of all revolutions.” Because society will abuse the misplaced trust of an individual, the mistakes and lessons learned will impress upon the consciousness tenfold.
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