Ralph Waldo Emerson's The American Scholar And American Exceptionalism

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The American Scholar and American Exceptionalism Ralph Waldo Emerson’s oration The American Scholar is a speech about the role he sees for the United States in the world and an example of American Exceptionalism. In this oration, delivered before the Phi beta Kappa Society, at Cambridge Massachusetts, on the 31st of August 1837, Emerson uses the Scholar as an abstract for the United States as a nation. The function and importance attributed to the scholar by Emerson mirrors the function Emerson sees for the United States as a whole. Just as the scholar must be an example to society, the United States must be one for the world. The oration is divided into five parts. Each part describes an aspect of the true scholar and, therefore, a goal that must be striven for by America as a nation. His oration criticises the, to his time current state of the country, and urges it to live up to its higher potential, and accept its importance in the world. By making the scholar the most important member of society, Emerson indicates that the United States are the most important power in the world. This perceived importance of the United States is what makes Emerson’s oration a about American Exceptionalism. According to Scheick’s Asprining to the Highest: Imagery in Emerson’s “The American Scholar.” “A careful reading of Emerson’s essay…show more content…
Emerson makes a point of addressing the importance for the scholar to not only gain knowledge beyond that of the past, but also to actively share this new found knowledge with the society and the world. This sharing of knowledge must be done in order to return the world to its original state of unity. By naming his oration The American Scholar and not simply the scholar, Emerson creates a stress on the word American. This stressing of the word American implies that being an American scholar, and not simply any sort of scholar, is
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