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In Ralph Waldo Emersons essay Self Reliance and Henry David Thoreaus essay Resistance to Civil Government Civil Disobedience both transcendentalist thinkers speak about being individual and what reforms and changes need to be made in our society However the two essays differ in their idea of what reforms must be made Emerson takes a much more general approach to what changes a person should make where as Thoreaus essay gets into much more detail as to what the individual needs to do to change society Despite some differences between the two essays both seem to stress the point of breaking free of conformity and displaying individuality Emerson who published the essay Self Reliance in 1841 addresses one of the central characteristics of the American sensibility individualism Emerson says that to be a conformist in this world will get you nowhere and that imitation is suicide Emerson in a sense preaches to stop being a follower and start being a leader He states that all men must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny and not be pinched in a corner Like Thoreau Emerson believes that a person can learn the most about themselves in solitude These are the voices of enlightenment which we hear in solitude but they grow faint and inaudible as we enter into the world Society everywhere is a conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members says Emerson He believes that to be great is to be misunderstood like great minds such as Jesus Socrates and Gailileo Having self reliance is to be individual that stands out from the crowd Thoreau a firm believer that enlightenment comes from solitude wrote Civil Disobedience in 1846 after he spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his taxes to the state as a way of protesting against the states support of slavery In his essay Thoreau stresses the importance of the individual similar to Emerson However Thoreau
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