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English Kathryn G.

Prd.2 12/3/08

Self-Reliance

The American Soul is found throughout many pieces of literature. The

essay, “Self-Reliance” is an example of the American Soul. The text features

many characteristics that are of the American Soul. There are many characteristics

that make up the American Soul. One characteristic trait “Self-Reliance” has is

confident. Another trait the essay highlights is individuality. A third trait that is

emphasized in the essay is unique.

One characteristic that comes through this text is confident. Emerson says,

“he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion” (Emerson, 209). This

shows confidence by telling one to accept oneself as one is and to not be

discouraged because of who they are. Another way that confidence is shown is in

the following quote. “And we are now men, and must accept in the highest mind

the same transcendent destiny” (Emerson, 210). Obviously, this quote reflects

confidence because Emerson is expressing that one should always believe in

themselves, to push themselves, to succeed and to excel others. In another point in

the text, the confident nature comes out. “Absolve you to yourself and you shall

have the suffrage of the world” (Emerson, 210). Confident clearly comes through
in the way that if one is certain of themselves and frees themselves from their

problems, they will have their own say of life.

Another trait that is featured in this essay is individuality. In “Self

Reliance,” Emerson speaks of society and how, “It loves not realities and creators

but names and customs” (Emerson, 210). It can be interpreted that Emerson is

saying to not go along with society and to be your own person. Another way that

individuality is shown is in the upcoming quote. “A foolish consistency is the

hobgoblin of little mind…with consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do”

(Emerson, 209). Individuality clearly comes through in the way that Emerson is

saying not to fear change and that if you go along with what others and society

does and says that you don’t know who you really are. In another point in the

essay, the individuality nature comes out. Emerson says, “Trust thyself: Every

heart vibrates to that iron string.” (Emerson, 210). This shows individuality

because Emerson is saying to believe what you feel.

A third characteristic that comes through this essay is unique. Emerson

expresses “Not for nothing one face, one character, one fact makes much

impression on him, and another none.” (Emerson, 209). This shows the trait of

unique by Emerson saying that if your not unique, you will be a person that is just

like the rest; just like society. Another way that unique is shown is in the

following quote. In the essay, Emerson says “Nothing is at last sacred but the

integrity of your own mind.” (Emerson, 210) This shows the characteristic of
unique by meaning that one must be honest with one’s own beliefs and one’s self.

In another point in the text, the unique nature comes out. Emerson says, “Speak

what you think now in hard words, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in

hard words again,” (Emerson, 210). Obviously, this quote reflects unique because

Emerson is suggesting that one should express how one feels or believes in.

In different pieces of literature, the American Soul is shown. It is believed

that there are some pieces more informative of the American Soul as compared to

others. The essay, “Self-Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson is a great example of

the American Soul. This text features three interesting characteristics of the

American Soul. One characteristic trait is confident. Another trait found in the text

is individuality. Third, unique is trait that Emerson features in his essay. The

American Soul is greatly portrayed in the essay, “Self-Reliance.”