List the four things that Emerson says everyone learns eventually in "Self-Reliance."

Expert Answers info

Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator


calendarEducator since 2018

write995 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Early in "Self-Reliance," Emerson says all people eventually learn four basic truths: envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide, all must take themselves for who they are, and though the universe of filled with good things, people must work hard to cultivate these good things instead of expecting everything to work of its own accord.

Of the first, Emerson is saying that people need not envy others since each person is unique and possesses his or her own special skills. If one can embrace what makes one special, then there is no need to envy anyone else.

The second idea builds upon the first: if each person is special, then any attempt to be like others would kill what makes each individual unique in the first place. People throw away who they are to be like everyone else and this is, in Emerson's mind, a sort of suicide.

The third idea, that people should take themselves as they are, is saying that people should accept that they have shortcomings. They should know there are certain parts of...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 924 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Maud Scarbrough eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2018

write558 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jay Gilbert, Ph.D. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseCollege Lecturer

bookB.A. from University of Oxford

bookM.A. from University of Oxford

bookPh.D. from University of Leicester

calendarEducator since 2017

write2,235 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

check Approved by eNotes Editorial