Today in class, we went over the questions on page 393, if the students had questions. Then, we read The Snowstorm, on page 395, and students were to answer questions 1-5 on page 396.
In Self-Reliance, we learn that Emerson believes people should decide for themselves who they are, what they do, and what is good. He says that this is the ultimate expression of “manhood,” or, as I interpret it, maturity. We are fully-realizing our own potential when we are putting our whole heart and talent into our work. He also says we need to find our own way and not conform to the norms and rules of society so we can be our best selves.
We can see some of the Transcendentalist ideas very obviously in this piece. First and foremost is the idea that we can intuitively understand great truths. Emerson talks about how there is nothing as sacred as the integrity of your own mind. That is, you don’t need scripture or dogma to tell you what is right because you can figure it out on your own by being true to yourself.
Emerson also talk about the importance of the individual over society/the institution. He says that society is averse to self-reliance, that it most requests conformity. You can’t be yourself if you are following rules made by others. Society asks you to give up your self and play your part for the betterment of others. But, as he points out earlier, this is a sure way to find dissatisfaction in your life.