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As people sharing a sense of community we are all looking for leaders and role models to provide us guidance. It is this intuitive appeal for leadership that sustains the value of the Great Man Theory, although it had somewhat become unfashionable in the last century.
Great men are thought to be path-breakers and independent thinkers. (James, p.114) In Emerson’s text, we find a powerful invocation of individuality. He attacks acts of token conformity that we all display due to pressures of society. As his famous quotation from the text mocks, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines”. (p.25) A man who succumbs to the habits of conformity loses the spontaneity and the open-mindedness that are the hallmarks of a man living to his full potential. It is in identification of these exceptional qualities that Emerson cites Plato, Moses and Milton among his Great Men.
Emerson’s litany of great men contains several luminaries across the span of two millennia of European civilization, including “Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton”. (p.44) But these people did not become legends through dint of birth, privilege or fortune. Most of them were vilified and ostracized during their own life times. Some of them even lost their lives for the cause they believed in. This is the uttermost expression of individuality and originality. These great men refused to bow to pressures of conformity due to the profound faith they held in their convictions. Though great men are mostly misunderstood during their own lifetimes, they grace humanity through the wisdom and legacy they leave behind. In this context, Emerson asks, “Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? ...every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.”(p.32)
At the center of Emerson’s thesis are three ideas: distrust of social norms, recognition of
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Overall, Herman Melville’s Billy Budd and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self Reliance both identify societal issues that speak to the inequalities and resulting depravity of human nature in a manner that illuminates for the reader a sense of understanding about the importance of self reliance and spiritual awareness.
As a matter of fact, it is not just those 2 literary works but a couple more works by the said two authors. However, there are also distinctions found in their works especially after the publication of Melville’s Moby-Dick. As McLoughlin quoted Charles Feidelson’s opinion towards the difference of the two authors: Emerson was the theorist and advocate, Melville the practicing poet.
In the vessel Rights of Man, Billy is a moderator among his vessel affiliates. He is a leader, not through control, but by modelling. All the affiliates of the ship admire him and love him. Moreover, Billy possesses strength and splendour which might be symbolizing America at the epoch of the recording the narration.
From a very early age Henry David Thoreau decided to use his own life experience as a helpful source and means of self-education. Being a self-confident, optimistic personality, he reflected this essence in his writings.
On 8th September, 1836, the day prior to the publication of Emerson’s most famous book, Nature, he met with George Putnam, Frederic Henry Hedge and George Ripley, to Plan Periodic Meetings of Other Concurring Intellectuals.
He talks about how people blindly go along with what they say without any thought (Emerson).
In order for one to be a true man, Emerson feels that he must face all opposition in order to preserve his true self. One must not allow the opposition to weigh him down to the point of caving in and following the rest of the crowd blindly without questioning why he is to do such things.
The above shown statements are the famous lines from Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance". These lines are also the starting point of Emerson's revelation of his thoughts about self-reliance. His initial goal for sharing these lines is just to express what he's thinking.
These differences led to his resignation and his inclination towards transcendentalism. He was influenced by transcendentalism to such an extent that he went on to lead the transcendentalist movement. His works include essays and poems which present his philosophical views about religion, society and culture.
At the age of eight, Emerson lost his father and forced to face single parenthood at an early stage of his development. His schooling started at the age of nine and d at the age of fourteen, he accepted a messenger
Throughout in his essay, Emerson has emphasized on the need of building self-trust in oneself. His essay argues that a person with self-contained intelligence is often disapproved by the world and he often
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