Literary Devices in Self-Reliance

Literary Devices Examples in Self-Reliance:

Self-Reliance 2

"Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half possession...."   (Self-Reliance)

Emerson uses repetition throughout the essay to make his themes read with a sense of meditative feeling. In the second to last paragraph, he opens with this sentence to bring the reader back to the main thesis of the essay: “Insist on yourself.” After the long list of historical figures he has cited and ideas he has developed, in his eyes this thesis of self-reliance is all that truly matters.

""Man is his own star; and the soul that can Render an honest and a perfect man, Commands all light, all influence, all fate; Nothing to him falls early or too late. Our acts our angels are, or good or ill, Our fatal shadows that walk by us still."..."   (Self-Reliance)

Notice how this stanza follows iambic pentameter, a metrical scheme in which each line contains five stresses. This poem also uses rhymes, with patterns of both AABB and ABAB. Although this style of strictly formal poetry is not as widely used today, it was an extremely popular poetic form at the time of the publication of Self-Reliance in 1841.