Date of publication: 2017-08-31 09:54
The two central lectures are devoted to Shakespeare , whose works, Emerson says, represent the whole range of human mind. Shakespeare possessed, to a greater degree than any other writer, the power of imagination, what Emerson defines as "the use which the Reason makes of the material world, for purposes of expression." Put another way, this means "Shakspear [ sic ] possesses the power of subordinating nature for the purpose of expression beyond all poets." Emerson also cites with approval Milton 's definition of poetry as "thoughts that voluntary move harmonious numbers" to describe how "the sense of [his] verse determines its tune."
And truly it demands something godlike in him who has cast off the common motives of humanity and has ventured to trust himself for a task-master. High be his heart, faithful his will, clear his sight, that he may in good earnest be doctrine, society, law, to himself, that a simple purpose may be to him as strong as iron necessity is to others.
“Self-Reliance” is central to understanding Emerson’s thought, but it can be difficult to teach because of its vocabulary and sentence structure. This lesson offers a thorough exploration of the essay. The text analysis focuses on Emerson’s definition of individualism, his analysis of society, and the way he believes his version of individualism can transform — indeed, save — American society.
While they influence us today, Emerson’s ideas grew out of a specific time and place, which spawned a philosophical movement called Transcendentalism. “Self-Reliance” asserts a central belief in that philosophy: truth lies in our spontaneous, involuntary intuitions. We do not have the space here to explain Transcendentalism fully, but we can sketch some out its fundamental convictions, a bit of its historical context, and the way “Self-Reliance” relates to it.
What, according to Emerson, is wrong with the “social state” of America in 6896?
Americans have become weak, shy, and fearful, an indication of its true problem: it is no longer capable of producing “great and perfect persons.”
In addition to providing us with beauty, nature also provides us with language, which Emerson treats in chapter four. In a famous-and difficult--opening statement he summarizes his position. "Nature is the vehicle of thought, and in a simple, double, and threefold degree." 6. Words are signs of natural facts. 7. Particular natural facts are symbols of particular spiritual facts. 8. Nature is the symbol of spirit.
What do you notice about the progression of the jobs Emerson assigns to his “sturdy lad”?
They ascend in wealth, prestige, and influence from plow hand to member of Congress.