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The Rule of Self-Reliance in the Nineteenth Century Literature - Essay Example

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In the 19th century, self-reliant individual has become the most interesting realm in literature. Various writers have promoted self-reliance wherein interrelationships of individuals among others are concealed, but still unveiled in an optimistic manner…
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The Rule of Self-Reliance in the Nineteenth Century Literature
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"The Rule of Self-Reliance in the Nineteenth Century Literature"

Download file to see previous pages The paper will discuss four points: an emphasis on interrelationships, separation of self-sufficiency from isolation, and solitude from loneliness, and the authors’ implication of preserving individuality. Humanity is said to be interconnected with one another, but in the nineteenth century, many of literary works have secluded this concept and embraced self-reliance. Thoreau, Emerson, and Douglass are some of those who have triggered the mindset of readers that self-reliance is not a hindrance to manhood. Starting with Thoreau, his line, “be sure that you give the poor the aid they most need” (Thoreau 61), suggests that everyone should help those in need. Walden by Thoreau clearly states his life lessons wherein he implies that despite self-reliance, people still need each other (Fletcher-Spear 59). From this point, it can be said that people need each other to survive. Also, a line from Emerson’s Self-Reliance depicts that one “cannot be happy and strong until he too lives with nature” (Emerson 11). This is one of his most spiritually satisfying lines implicating that everyone is interconnected and interrelated (Gowler 76). With this in mind, Emerson tends to emphasize that happiness is unattainable unless people never understand that life must be lived alone. Furthermore, Douglass also embedded such a notion in a line in his Narrative stating that if only every master would teach his or her slave how to read “he would at once become…no value to his master” (Douglass 107). What Douglass tries to implicate is that education, literacy, and reason are significant for slaves who strive for emancipation and their masters can be the sole provider of such needs (Kohn 499; Radloff 84). From his piece, he emphasizes that even less-fortunate people in this world, such as slaves, and their respective masters have interrelationships, either it may be for the good of both, or for the benefit of only one party. Altogether, the three authors have unique approaches on emphasizing the interrelationships of individuals based on their experiences. Their principles clearly suggest that there is really no man in an island, and everyone needs one another in order to survive. In terms of self-sufficiency and isolation, from this line, “I lived alone…in a house which I had built myself” (Thoreau 5), Thoreau implies self-sufficiency as he can live without the help of anybody, and he separated the idea of isolation from using another line, “...in my neighborhood” (Thoreau 17). Thoreau emphasizes that self-sufficiency can be seen from living in isolation, but he separated the idea of isolation as he depicted that his neighbors live far from his location and the idea of self-sufficiency as he can construct his own house without the help of his neighbors. In this respect, Thoreau’s practical approach clearly separates self-sufficiency from isolation by means of being practical (qtd. in Bodily 213). Also, Emerson’s line, “a man is to carry himself in the presence of all opposition” (Emerson 4) depicts a clear division of self-sufficiency from isolation because he depicted nothing about being isolated; instead, he implied an optimistic perception that one can stand alone even if others attempt to oppose (Gowler 76). Emerson tends to imply that self-sufficiency can be referred to standing in one’s own principles even if others oppose--this opposition is an exemplary of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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