Historical Context in Self-Reliance
The Transcendentalists: “Self-Reliance” was published in 1841 by the philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson was a member of the transcendentalist movement, which emerged in the first half of the 19th century in New England as a result of rationalism. It was a philosophical, political, and literary movement, influenced primarily by romanticism and the philosophies of Kant and Plato. As this essay’s title suggests, transcendentalists believed that individuals were most successful when left to their own devices—when reliant on themselves, as it were. They believed in the purity of the individual and echoed the emphasis the romantics placed on nature, and the importance of interactions between nature and the individual. Emerson was arguably the transcendentalist movement’s most important figure, and “Self-Reliance” was one of its key texts.
Historical Context Examples in Self-Reliance:
"For every stoic was a stoic; but in Christendom where is the Christian?..." See in text (Self-Reliance)