Self Reliance and Other Essays

Never Compromise: Self-Reliance in Watchmen 11th Grade

In his essay "Self-Reliance," Ralph Waldo Emerson often radiates an arrogant and self-important tone, writing, for example, “A great man is coming to eat at my house. I do not wish to please him; I wish that he should wish to please me.” Although prideful, Emerson’s work is known for its empowerment of the individual, an idea that several facets of contemporary American media have adopted for their own uncompromising and self-reliant characters. In Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen, the character development of Rorschach reveals important points of Emersonian philosophy in terms of individualism, truth, conformity, and integrity, making him a character Emerson would admire in certain respects.

The overarching belief of Emerson’s philosophy in "Self-Reliance" is the importance of individualism. As Emerson wrote, “To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men, -- that is genius.” Valuing this idea above all, including love, society, and religion, Emerson believed that the ideal man must “live truly” in order to “see truly," that is, to reach transcendence and attain self-reliance. In order to do this, a man’s goal must be to seek truth and to “trust thyself.” Rather...

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