For this assignment, you will read an excerpt from Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance,” and answer the Figurative Language in Argument Questions. I’ll put the essay at the end of the page for you to read!

1.What is the historical context of Emerson’s essay? (Research this if necessary.)

2.Who is Emerson’s audience?

3.What is Emerson’s claim?

4.Explain the evidence Emerson uses to support his claim.

Part 2

For each quote you answer these three questions to…

What is Emerson saying?

How does this example affect the tone or meaning?

How does this support his claim?

These are the quotes…

No kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.

Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater.

Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place?

Part 3

Develop a position agreeing or disagreeing with Emerson’s claim “To be great is to be misunderstood.” State your position (thesis) and the reasons to support your position. Your reasons can come from your reading, your relevant personal experiences, and your observations.

Thesis:

Reason 1:

Explanation of reason 1:

Reason 2:

Explanation of reason 2:

Reason 3:

Explanation of reason 3:

Reason 4:

Explanation of reason 4:

This is the essay you are reading for the assignment! Read the following excerpt, paying attention to the author’s argument, style, and use of figurative language.

1) There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse, as his portion; that though the wide universe is full of good, no kernel of nourishing corn can come to him but through his toil bestowed on that plot of ground which is given to him to till. The power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried.

2) Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. Great men have always done so, and confided themselves childlike to the genius of their age, betraying their perception that the absolutely trustworthy was seated at their heart, working through their hands, predominating in all their being.

3) Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members. Society is a joint-stock company, in which the members agree, for the better securing of his bread to each shareholder, to surrender the liberty and culture of the eater. The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs.

4) Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.

5) What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

6) There is a mortifying experience in particular, which does not fail to wreak itself also in the general history; I mean “the foolish face of praise,” the forced smile which we put on in company where we do not feel at ease in answer to conversation which does not interest us. The muscles, not spontaneously moved, but moved by a low usurping wilfulness, grow tight about the outline of the face with the most disagreeable sensation. For nonconformity the world whips you with its displeasure. And therefore a man must know how to estimate a sour face.

7) The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them.

8) Why drag about this corpse of your memory, lest you contradict somewhat you have stated in this or that public place? Suppose you should contradict yourself; what then? It seems to be a rule of wisdom never to rely on your memory alone, scarcely even in acts of pure memory, but to bring the past for judgment into the thousand-eyed present, and live ever in a new day.

9) A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day.—’Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’—Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

 
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