Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance” embodies some of the most prominent themes of the transcendentalist movement in the 19th century.
First published in 1841, “Self-Reliance” advocates for individualism and encourages readers to trust and follow their own instincts and intuition rather than blindly adhere to the will of others.
With its most early conception coming shortly after the death of his wife, “Self-Reliance” manifests feelings of hope and optimism that could seldom be expected at a time of such despair.
Emerson doesn’t withhold from letting his readers know the true value they have to offer the world, asserting that self-reliance serves as a beginning point for a more efficient, productive society.
Self-Reliance contains Emerson’s beliefs and perspectives on how society negatively impacts our growth.
He argues strongly that self-reliance, self-trust, and individualism, amongst other things, are ways that we can avoid the conformity imposed upon us.
If you’d rather listen, there’s also a link to the free audiobook at the end of this article.
Many things can be construed from Emerson’s writings.
As mentioned, Self-Reliance is the topic (and title) of an 1841 essay from US philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Born in Boston in 1803, Emerson wrote poetry and gave lectures that would greatly influence other famous names such as Henry Thoreau and Walt Whitman (IEP, 2019).