Self Reliance Rhetorical Analysis

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Lauren Hutchinson
LIT 220 Section 1

“Self-Reliance” by Emerson

An analysis of “Self-Reliance” by Emerson reveals how he uses rhetoric persuasion such as pathos and ethos, as well as metaphors, poetic diction, enthusiastic diction, parallel structure and other literary devices to make it easier for the audience to understand the struggles of individuality but also to understand the importance of being independent from the surrounding society. When Emerson gives his speech on Self Reliance, he states “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.” The meaning behind this aphorism and pathos is that Emerson believes that all people must escape from the society and ideas that surround them to have a peaceful and successful
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A good example of a metaphor that is also another example of pathos that Emerson uses is “Travelling is a fools paradise.” This shows that he sees traveling as a person escaping from who they are and trying to find an easier alternative. He is persuading his readers to feel like they are “fools” when travelling. He believes that one is examining places and ideas that have already been discovered instead of being “self-reliant” and looking into their own mind. Emerson states “They who made England, Italy, or Greece venerable in the imagination, did so by sticking fast where they were, like an axis of the earth.” This quote uses a simile to connect his readers and to support Emerson’s beliefs in that the men who made these wonderful places what they are today did so not by traveling but by sitting where they were and utilizing their own imaginations. Emerson’s use of pathos is present throughout the entire essay but is strongly shown in the form of poetic diction when discussing prayer. Emerson uses this to further promote his ideals of traveling in self-reliance when he speaks about how the “soul is no traveler; the wise man stays at home, and when his necessities, his duties, on any occasion call him from his house, or into foreign lands, his is at home still…” Emerson is saying that he understand ,any people desire to explore faraway places such as Italy and England for amusement…show more content…
By repeating and capitalizing Nature multiple times throughout “Self-Reliance”. Emerson using this capitalization shows how strongly he feels that the most important idea is that the ultimate wrong towards being self-reliant is going against your Nature but also makes the audience look at Nature as a person and not just an element. Emerson’s transcendentalist ideals show his belief that God speaks to people through Nature. By connecting to this belief it appeals to the religious people of that time. Emerson uses Nature in all of his surroundings and especially in young, innocent children to connect innocent things to his beliefs to persuade readers. This is demonstrated in the quote “What pretty oracles Nature yields us on this text in the face and behavior of children, babes and even brutes.” At first glance, this seems to argue that children are so new to everything that they have not been corrupted yet; however it can also be used to connect people by Nature bringing out the child like qualities in people. Emerson wants his audience to reminisce running out into the woods and in Nature and how it makes an individual feel young and carefree
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