Rhetorical Strategies In Self Reliance By Ralph Waldo Emerson

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In the piece “Self Reliance” by Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of Americas most influential thinkers, Emerson talks about the subject of individuality. Using many different rhetorical strategies, he makes his perspective on the subject loud and clear by using personification, alliteration and analogy.

“The eye was placed where one ray shall fall, that it might testify ray shall fall, that it might testify of that particular ray. Bravely let him speak the utmost syllable of his confession” (Emerson). Emerson uses personification, giving “the eye” the ability to talk and confess such as a human would. He does this as a representation of people. Fear of embarrassment or rejection keeps us as people from expressing our feelings and views of the world and God, the “divine idea” of which we as people of the world represent brings us to shame.
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For example, Emerson wrote “To believe your own thought, to what is true for you in your private heart, is true for all men” (Emerson). Emerson repeats the words “to believe” to show the reader that in order to achieve genius and greatness you must believe many things are possible and believe that anything can happen. Without that belief you may not end up as successful as you wish to be. Emerson uses alliteration again stating “In the attempt his genius deserts him, no muse befriends, no invention, no hope” (Emerson). Emerson repeats the word “no” to show that one will get nothing in a failed attempt.

Finally, Emerson uses an analogy, stating “Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string” (Emerson). In other words, you must allow yourself to trust in yourself. Without trust in yourself you cannot trust in others. Emerson also uses another analogy, stating “It is not without pre-established harmony, this sculpture in the memory” (Emerson). What Emerson means by this is you can’t have a good stung memory of something without the event even
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