Compare "Self-Reliance" or Walden to Woman in the Nineteenth Century as regards the responsibilities of the individual within a conformist society.

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Both Thoreau and Emerson spoke for independent thinking, unconstrained by social conventions and accepted traditions. While both were learned, they advocated for a greater trust in intuitive thinking. Emerson opens "Self-Reliance" by drawing distinctions between Moses, Plato, and Milton and the individual mind. This tract, appearing in 1841, would have been inspirational and aspirational for the women who gathered in Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848. The growing suffragette movement would have found in these transcendentalist writers fodder to support their own efforts to rely politically and socially on their own intuitive sense of identity and of what is right. Again, in "Self-Reliance," Emerson exhorts readers to remember that "He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of our own mind." The Seneca Falls Convention's "Declaration of Sentiments" offers a feminist declaration of independence from the anti-intuitive conventions and laws governing mid-century society. Declaring "that woman has too long rested satisfied in the circumscribed limits which corrupt customs and a perverted application of the Scriptures have marked out for her, and that it is time she should move in the enlarged sphere which her great Creator has assigned her," Seneca Falls seems to echo and amplify Emerson's own impulse to resist the forces of "consistency, the hobgoblin little minds" lampooned in "Self-Reliance."

In short, women in nineteenth-century America might well find in Emerson's work a voice that sanctions resistance to social conformity and a commitment to the individual. This call for independent thinking and nonconformity would help female readers, as well as male readers sympathetic to individual freedoms, accept greater expression from women as an equal force to men's thought and speech.

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