What are some quotes from "Self-Reliance" using personification?

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R. W. Emerson uses personification throughout the essay . He personifies large concepts such as “the world” and “society,” attributing human action and intent to abstract entities. Seeing “the world” as pressuring individuals to confirm, he notes, “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure." Similarly, he states, "Society...

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R. W. Emerson uses personification throughout the essay. He personifies large concepts such as “the world” and “society,” attributing human action and intent to abstract entities. Seeing “the world” as pressuring individuals to confirm, he notes, “For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure." Similarly, he states, "Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members." This means that each man (used in the generic sense of person) should stand up for what he believes in, but the overall force of conformity works against taking an individual, ethical stance.

A “hobgoblin” is not technically a person but rather a fantastic creature. One of the essays most famous lines is, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” This qualifies as personification because it puts an abstract concept into concrete, semi-human form. While “goblin” is more familiar term today, his readers would have used both interchangeably. Emerson means that sticking to an old idea just for the sake of consistency is not wise; it is better to be flexible and open to new ideas. He goes on to advocate for contradicting positions one held yesterday, and to be willing to be misunderstood.

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Emerson adds color to his essay by sprinkling personification throughout it, giving abstract concepts and non-human entities human characteristics. One example would be "lungs of inspiration," as if inspiration breathed like a human. In another instance, Emerson describes thoughts as having a "certain alienated majesty," as if they were a human being with a distinct personality. The concepts of malice and vanity are personified by Emerson as wearing "the coat" of philanthropy, as if they were people who needed clothing. This functions to show how bad human qualities hide themselves, as humans might hide their physical flaws, under "coats." When Emerson gives a dollar to what he thinks is a bad charity, he personifies the dollar bill as "wicked." He talks about the "eyes" of nations, as if nations were people, and personifies art by saying a picture "awaits my verdict; it is not to command me," treating the picture as if it as human being Emerson is in dialogue with and must master. All of this enlivens an essay that otherwise might get lost in abstraction.

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