Self-Reliance Questions and Answers
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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In what way is Emerson's "Self-Reliance" an example of Romanticism? Explain with quotes.

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Dolly Doyle eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Emerson's "Self Reliance" is Romantic in its call for the individual to stay true to his or her own feelings and not to cast them off because they do not fit in with society's ideas or demands. He insists that people should not accept certain ideas or values just because people have constantly done so for hundreds or thousands of years. Emerson argues that one must examine and come to one's own conclusions on social, moral, and religious matters.

One of Romanticism's defining traits is the glorification of the individual and the importance of authenticity. Emerson's essay glorifies these ideas, believing people must fight back against social pressure and the urge to conform should they wish to live fulfilling lives.

This selection from the essay says it all: "Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string."

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While "Self Reliance" leans into strands of religious nonconformity that pre-date Romanticism, I would locate a very deep debt to Romanticism in Emerson's essay in its faith in...

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