Self-Reliance Topics for Further Study
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Topics for Further Study

(Nonfiction Classics for Students)

Emerson mentions many accomplished men in "Self-Reliance." List five to ten people who have lived since Emerson's time who are examples of high achievement. Do some research, and then for each person write a sentence or two about some way in which that person exhibited self-reliance.

Emerson's central premise is that all individuals have the potential to be great, if only they would trust themselves. Do you agree or disagree? Write a persuasive essay that states and argues for your position. Use examples, as Emerson did.

Emerson was a strong supporter of President Abraham Lincoln. Given what you know about Emerson and Lincoln, why do you think this was so? Write your answer in the form of a list of possible reasons, and compare your answers with those of your classmates.

Emerson was a poet as well as an essayist. Write a poem of at least sixteen lines that expresses the main ideas set forth in "Self-Reliance." Your poem may be in any form and style you choose. Feel free to borrow language and examples from Emerson, to use your own, or to make use of both.

According to Emerson, people owe one another ‘‘mutual reverence.’’ Explain what you think he means by this. Explain whether you agree that mutual reverence is called for and why you agree or disagree.