Emerson Essay On Heroism

Emerson Essay On Heroism-80
The influence of Eastern religion on Emerson’s thought can be seen most clearly in the next essay, “Compensation,” which is Emerson’s term for the law of Karma, or metaphysical checks and balances.

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People believed that there was no substitute for prominence when striving to be a hero. Bill Gates, for example has given billions of dollars to impoverished people all over the world. Although some could argue that Bill Gates was brave in the business world, he would not have been as much of a hero as he is now had he lived in Beowulf’s time.

Beowulf is a hero in the mind of civilians, and a hero is defined as one with Beowulf’s rough qualities, less so as a person who is generous.

It is seen throughout classical myths, and in Judeo-Christian thought (“as ye sow, so shall ye reap,” Galatians 6:7).

However, Emerson goes beyond this concept of reciprocity to a very un-Western notion, the central moral tenet of the Bhagavad Gita, that from a divine vantage point, what appears evil to people may not be so.

is an ecclectic gathering of a dozen essays in the following order: “History,” “Self-Reliance,” “Compensation,” “Spiritual Laws,” “Love,” “Friendship,” “Prudence,” “Heroism,” “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” “Intellect,” and “Art.” Although there may be no significance to the order of all the essays, scholars since the mid-twentieth century have generally agreed that beginning the collection with “History” and “Self-Reliance” is significant.

The notion that what is called “history” is not one immutable, objective reality, but something incarnated in the human individual, is the premise that leads not only to Emerson’s concept of over-soul but also to that of self-reliance.

True, there are people who strive to challenge obstacles in our world.

Beowulf does something slightly irregular, however. “Then the hero, stern under the gleaming helmet, with his stout mail-coat and think-plated shield, strode out to meet his foe.” Beowulf appears a madman after examining this quote.

The ideas in “Self-Reliance” is, quite appropriately, Emerson’s most anthologized essay.

Not only does it capture Emerson’s liberal mysticism, but it also captures the “spirit of the age” of nineteenth century Western thought and the essence of American individualism, which was just beginning to define itself.


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