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It is critical to know about Ralph Waldo Emerson before we move to the literary analysis of Self Reliance. Emerson was famous as the man of letters in America. Not only that he was an essayist, but he was also a lecturer, advocate for social reformation and poet. 

He was known to be a part of American Transcendental Movement, which influenced Walt Whitman and William James.  

Literary Analysis of Self Reliance 

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote an essay called Self-Reliance in 1841. In it, he emphasized the significance of following an individual’s thoughts and instincts instead of obeying the traditions. The main idea of Emerson’s essay is that one must not overlook the inner voice. The voice which is we ignore in the clamor of external impacts and self-disbelief. These inner thoughts could contain some flicker of brilliance. This is what the top-notch leaders and thinkers of the world have done. They have listened to their minds instead of getting concerned about norms and others’ comments. They trained themselves to pay no attention to the doubts and their ideas boomed in the world because their ideas mirrored with the ideas of others.


Self Reliance and Freethinking 

Since self-reliance is about being non-conformist, there are more chances that an individual will come up with a strong personality. A self-reliant person is not afraid of expressing his thoughts in front of society rather he or she will welcome more such freethinkers. Emerson has given an example of Milton and Plato who believed in themselves and did not scare of expressing their opinion or ideas to the people. Although, people disagreed with them at the start, later they approved of their ideas. This is the power of self-reliance that benefits society in the end.

While looking at the aspect of helping society by practicing acts that make a person comfortable and satisfied, the foremost thing here is to accept your individuality. For instance, if someone is inclined towards studying arts while his family is comprised of medical professionals, he or she must not go with the crowd. A person must be left with his or her choice to choose a career. He must be free to think self- sufficiently and do not ‘hide behind’ as Emerson has mentioned. It is better to have an exemplary artist in society than having an uninterested physician. By encouraging the individuality in any society, this way, there will be more constructive minds than the tired ones who were walking with the crowd. When people are given the confidence to be themselves, they run to achieve their interests fearlessly.

Self Reliance and Society 

Most of the mental health issue arises when people expect from others. It is certainly not unusual to ask others to understand you, motivate you, like you, etc. man is a social animal and he performs all of his acts in the quest for validation from society. It must not be the case every time.

In the modern world, people are more reliant towards social validation and that makes them being imitated. People are happy when others approve of their appearance, when people respond towards their success, happiness, etc. we become so much habitual of this sort of validation that depression sweeps in when it is not there anymore. Once again, we are becoming victims of a society that we care about their feedbacks just like Emerson has explained in his essay. For a healthy society, it is crucial that people are happy on there own, in themselves, and about themselves without thinking about others. With the self- reliance, people can take decisions on their own and solve their problems based on their inner voice. This will provide you with a sense of acknowledging self-worth.   

More in Literary Analysis of Self Reliance 

Another point of Emerson is of great importance that we have become a great deal of materialism. This is a materialistic time and we relate our happiness with all the materialistic items. We need to give up this trend from society and normalize the fact that if someone does not have many luxuries, then are not to be outcaste on this reason because your happiness is not dependent on these things. If we do, we will only make ourselves lesser than others in their eyes.

Emerson has highlighted the fact that if these genius minds would have listened to society, they would not have been able to express their thoughts. They became famous and people agreed to them because somewhere they are speaking the hearts of people. Thus, one must not conform to society and say their perception loudly because ‘That is Genius’, said Emerson.

Religion is part of every society. People usually do not do anything rather expect from God to perform miracles. Those people who are self-reliant, they emphasize on making a spiritual connection with God instead of asking Him to perform miracles. A self-reliant person will attain things on his own by striving for them.

Conclusively, self-reliance inspires us to feel liberated in our actions and thoughts by making us contingent. This will lead to developed societies, which only look forward and create non-conformist individuals that could change the world.



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