What do you think of self-reliance by ralph waldo emerson, write a review about your feeling towards it.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that if you are assigned to write a review there are several points on which you can focus.  I like the idea of being able to construct a vision of individual consciousness that lies outside the realm of social reality and perception.  There is an exaltation of the subjective that is found in Emerson that is not found in other writers as much prior.  I think the idea of being able to set apart the individual from a social order and actually be praising of it is essential to not only the ideas that he puts forth in his essay, but also in the basic idea of what it means to be an American.  The Emerson philosophy put forth in his work helps to define some of the most basic elements of American thought and identity.  The notion of individualism and creating a sense of self that lies outside what others think and perceive is central to the identity and character of our nation.  An educational system has been built on the idea of being proud of an individual and being able to "walk to one's own tune."  This is central to Emerson's thesis and is one of the reasons why I would spend time on it in constructing a review of the work.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many aspects to this essay.  The one I will focus on is Emerson's idea that people should follow their own consciences rather than obeying what society tells them to do.

I think that this is a very seductive idea.  Following your own conscience feels like a very honest thing to do.  It feels like you are being authentic rather than selling out to society.  Because of this, Emerson's essay sounds very appealing.

However, when I think about this, it is also rather a chilling thought.  What if everyone acted based on their own conscience?  What would the world be like if everyone took Emerson up on his challenge?  I do not like to think about what things would be like if no one obeyed authority except when their conscience told them to do so.  It sounds like anarchy to me and I do not think that is a good thing.

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