Self Reliance By Ralph Waldo Emerson Analysis

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Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Self-Reliance”, a piece that comments on what people should focus on in their lives, and becoming self-reliant. Self-reliance is the idea of doing things for yourself, focusing on yourself rather than what you’re doing for societal reasons. This is an interesting way to look at one’s self identity. When looking at life through a self–reliant individualist view, one can find different perspectives or take a ways from different literary pieces or when analyzing an individual’s actions or motivations. When looking at, “Rip Van Winkle”, “William Wilson”, “Ministers Black Veil” and “Wakefield” we can gather a different take away when looking at how the main characters go through different identity crises and how it correlated to self-reliant individualism, in the ways it all affected the main character and others in the stories. When looking at these four stories, the main characters go through identity crisis’s, that affect themselves as well as other characters who slowly begin thinking about their own self-identity. In “Rip Van Winkle”, the readers learn about a man who goes out into the woods to go hunting, he meets a man by the name of Hudson, who he drinks with along with a few other people, and he eventually goes to sleep under a tree. He awakes, and twenty years has passed since he left for hunting, and feel asleep. The main character comes to the realization that all this time has passed, his wife has died, which he seemed to be indifferent to, and his son and daughter are grown now. He realizes that his whole world, the small and quant town, his family/friends, have all moved on without him and he’s left in his old ways. The town and society itself have changed in big ways, for example, the small inn is now a large hotel named Yankee, and the Revolutionary War has already happened, so the once small Dutch town is a growing town under George Washington, where all the people who inhabit it are described as active and concerned citizens, who are more focused on material possessions and change rather than the desire for stability. Rip Van Winkle is welcomed back and accepted, even though he is seen as a quirky man who is almost blissfully ignorant, while being completely harmless
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