In what ways were Emerson and Thoreau nonconformists? How is this seen in "Self-Reliance" and "Civil Disobedience"?

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Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were Transcendentalists, which already made them nonconformists in the eyes of many New Englanders in the 1840s-1850s. A nonconformist is someone who does not act in line or go along with the generally accepted beliefs of mainstream society. In his essaySelf-Reliance ,” former minister Emerson comes right out and proclaims, “Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist” (paragraph 7). He encourages readers to do their own thinking and to avoid going along with the crowd. He attacks a number of traditional institutions and practices, including the act of prayer. We shouldn’t ask for help from outside sources, he says. We have our own strengths to call upon in time of need. And...

(The entire section contains 383 words.)

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