Self-Reliance Questions and Answers
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Discuss the themes of individualism and independence in "Self-Reliance" by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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In Emerson's essay, "Self-Reliance" individualism and independence go hand-in-hand. In this powerful piece, the author challenges us all to be persons of conscience.

Regarding independence, Emerson advises people to have faith in their own thoughts, as other great men have done: Moses, Plato and Milton. These men didn't worry about books, traditions or the opinions of others. Some people miss their own genius, discounting it because it is their own. However, his rejected thoughts may be seen again in the wisdom of others:

In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts; they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.

The author goes on to speak of individualism—a man must realize that individuality is of the utmost importance. To want to be like someone else is disastrous:

There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.

(The entire section contains 603 words.)

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