“Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson - page 364



1.                  Re-read the first paragraph and summarize it in your own words.







2.                  What does Emerson value more- original thought or traditional wisdom?




3.                  According to Emerson, which virtue does society demand most- truth, conformity, creativity or self-reliance?




4.                  What is the only law that Emerson says can be sacred to him?





5.                  If you had heard this essay as a public lecture, what questions would you have liked to ask Emerson about his philosophy?







6.                  If Emerson had specifically addressed the institution of slavery in this essay, what do you think he would have said about it?






1.                  Interpret and apply the following quotes:



Original Quote

Your Interpretation

Application in Your Life

Example: “No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature.”

I can only do what my soul says I am capable of doing.

If I really think about it,  I could never kill an animal except out of my own need for survival.  I don’t believe I have the right to extinguish life (no matter how small) in any other circumstance.

“Who so would be a man, must be a nonconformist.”



“With consistency, a great soul has simply nothing to do.”





“To be great is to be misunderstood.”























2.                  In what ways is “Memoirs” saying the same thing as the first paragraph in “Self-Reliance”?  Consider:

a.       In the chamber of death (what was it?)

b.      Give me truth (what is truth here?)

c.       O the granting of this prayer is sometimes terrible to me (why/how is it terrible?)

d.      Yet nothing but the truth will do (why?)