Can anyone find any similarities between Thomas Paine's "The Crisis No.1" and Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance"?I have to write an essay about the two and I'm having trouble to finding support...

Can anyone find any similarities between Thomas Paine's "The Crisis No.1" and Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Self-Reliance"?

I have to write an essay about the two and I'm having trouble to finding support in "The Crisis No. 1."

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The concepts of responsibility and independent thought are ones that both the writings of Thomas Paine and Ralph Waldo Emerson embrace.  In his Crisis No.1, Paine urges the Colonists to understand that theirs is the time to act against the despotism of Britain, disparaging the parent who says, "Well!  Give me peace in my day":

...but nothing  can reach the heart that is steeled with prejudice....The heart that feels not now, is dead:  The blood of his children will curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have save the whole.

 Similarly, Emerson repudiates those without the courage to be a non-conformist and to trust in their own reasoning and act upon it:

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds [like the parent who wants peace in his time], adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.

With Emerson's accusation of society as "a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members," and his statement that "God will not have his work made manifest by cowards," these same words could well be applied to the British occupation of the colonies and the the complacency of the few who do not wish to act.  Paine's "These are the times that try men's souls could well be applied Paine's as well as Emerson's times as they are times in which men are called to be individuals with courage.

Read the study guide:
Self-Reliance

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question