“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.”

Although this is not the quote I have chosen, it equally expresses Emerson’s purpose for writing “Self Reliance.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson sure does have a way with words. In his essay, “Self Reliance” one quote in particular stuck out to me. The quote I have as my title is one of the many I had to contemplate whether or not I wanted to use. To me, if this quote does not speak to everyone as soon as they read it, there is something wrong. It applies to everyone because, whether we want to admit it or not, we would all like to be just like someone else. Personally, I think Emerson realized this too and decided to be very blunt with this quote. He states, that everyone reaches a point in their life when they realize envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide, and that every person must take himself, good or bad, for what he is worth. Emerson is saying that it is dangerous for us to wish to be like someone else. He thinks we should realize that we are our own person, good or bad, but we have to accept it or we will never make it anywhere in life. In the last part of the quote, Emerson says, “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.” In my opinion, the direction he is taking here is to explain that of a person is not using the resources he or she has now, how can they expect anything more to come to them? The whole basis of the essay “Self Reliance,” is to inform people of the importance they have within themselves. We should take advantage of it and use it for good in the world.

The following video, briefly describes Emerson’s essay, “Self Reliance” by shortening and providing the main purpose of it.

During the time period this essay was written, more specifically 1838, people were not so sure of themselves. They felt very insecure about who they were as individuals and even as Americans. People were not happy with how they were succeeding in life, or if they were even succeeding at all. This idea of Transcendentalism that Emerson created, grabbed their attention because it was exactly what they needed to hear. Not only did this essay become a cultural Declaration of Independence, but it also was an exhortation just to simply believe in yourself. Although as we look at it today, the entire essay seems cliche and somewhat repetitive. During this time of self doubt though, Emerson was right on track to delivering what the nation needed.

Reading “Self Reliance” with the mentality of today, most young people will feel like they are being beat over the head with a hammer saying “believe in yourself!” You can do it!” In all reality, the young people of today should listen to it the most. Perhaps young people aren’t dealing with the same problems as the audience back in 1838 were dealing with, but they still struggle just much. Everyone is insecure, whether it be in the way you look or what you do. That is one thing in the world that is not going to change. All throughout psychology books today, you will find some of the same things Emerson stated. Obviously someone thought they were important and still needed to be shared today.



Just like the greedy husband in The Birthmark, how does society expect perfection from the world today?

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story The Birthmark, a woman is pressured by her husband to have a birthmark removed from her face because he feels she would finally be perfect without it. The woman had grown very find of this birthmark and never wanted it to go away. After her husband makes her feel terrible about it, she decides to have it removed. Once the process is complete, she becomes very ill and eventually dies. In a way the husband was right, it made her perfect, but God never intended for anyone to be perfect, therefore she could no longer live. Her husband may have achieved his goal of making his wife perfect, but in the end it was all for nothing because he lost her anyway.


The same way Hawthorne reflected a push for perfection in his story, society affects the way people think of themselves today. This feeling of always having to be perfect mostly affects girls. In the video below a short study is shown of how younger girls feel that they are not pretty enough because of what they look like compared to what society feels they should look like.

Most girls today are directly affected by how society thinks they should look. Some girls want to be skinnier, some more tan, some taller, or some even shorter. Most teenage girls you ask today will tell you that they are unhappy with their appearance. They see a picture of a movie star with a size 00 bikini hanging off of them and feel that they would only be pretty if that’s what they looked like. A girl can often look in a magazine and try to create her makeup to look the exact same way so that she can be perfect. Society is constantly telling a girl that she is not smart enough or pretty enough, when in fact, that is not the case at all.

The girl below is looking at herself in the mirror and feeling uncomfortable with who she is.
Not only are girls pressured to be perfect in the way they look, but also in how they live their life. Society feels that both boys and girl should be fully successful in life and become someone. In a way, they are saying that if a person doesn't go to college then he or she will become a nobody. In fact, some of the most successful people in the world did not even finish high school. Whether you work a crappy job or have the best job ever, you are still blessed to be getting a pay check. Success should not be according to how much money you make. Success in life is achieving any goal you have made for yourself. There isn't anyone that can take that away from you.

No one can truly be perfect and I think it is very disturbing that the society of today has to make everyone feel uncomfortable with themselves. All they seem to do is put other people down so that they can feel good about themselves. No one in the world should think they aren't good enough. You can't always please everyone and the only person you should worry about pleasing is yourself. You are who you are because God made you that way, and for a very good reason. Embrace it, you are beautiful no matter what.

Christianity vs. The World

As Thomas Paine wrote his third work, he forced some of his ideas and thoughts onto the readers of the time. One influential work he named The Age of Reason, was written in 1794 while he was imprisoned in France. In this work Paine focused on acknowledging the deist manifesto core he had created within himself. The idea that nature was the only form of divine revelation and that God established an internal order that everything would fulfill throughout creation, was the basis of his beliefs. He rejected Christians and personally victimized them because they believed differently than him. Paine emphasized that the Bible was not the direct word of God and preached these ideas to masses all over France. Most of the beliefs he spoke now were nothing unusual to what others were preaching, but the bitterness he used made even more people hate him than already did.

Just like in those times, people all over the world are rejecting Christianity today. The following video of Francis Chan will show you the intensity of some of the persecution Christians are going through around the world.

Some people supposedly believe in nothing. This group of people call themselves Atheists, which means a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheist

Aside from atheists in the world, there are people all over the world who persecuting someone for being a Christian. As of right now there are hundreds of Christians being killed by the Islamic believers every day. These Christians are putting their life on the line to spread their faith into parts of the world that have never heard it before. Some of their tactics include blowing up churches, attacking people on the streets, and even suicide bombing as displayed in the picture below. This jeep filled with explosives was crashed into a church killing at least 8 people and wounding almost 100 more.


Things like this not only happen in other lower countries, they happen right here in the United States as well. One of the most well known instances was the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. Whenever you research this topic one name in particular that pops up is young girl by the name of Cassie Bernall. The story goes that when one of the teenage gunman approached Cassie in the library that day, he asked her if she believed in God? Without any hesitation, she simply says “yes” and the gunman shoots and kills her. Teenagers all over the world hold onto that simple hope, that a saint they all knew from school lost her life for professing her faith. No one knows if the killer’s purpose was to persecute Cassie for her faith, but it certainly impacted the Christian religion all over the World and forced them to have terrible feelings toward those who would ever do such a thing.

Below is a picture of the teenage martyr, Cassie Bernall, from the Columbine shooting.


As all of these things happen in different parts of the world, it brings everyone together for one common goal and that is to bring these persecutions to a stop. Many efforts are made daily, but like Thomas Paine, the people of this time are specific in what they want and are most likely not going to change their beliefs of how to get their way.

What exactly was the Great Awakening and how did Jonathan Edwards contribute to it?

Common churches of today have what are formally known as revivals. These revivals are held in hopes to uplift the church and spiritually get it back on its feet to where it needs to be. A very well known revival movement took place in the colonies in the early 1700s. This movement was called the Great Awakening. There were many authors and preachers who contributed to this movement including John and Charles Wesley, George Whitfield, and Jonathan Edwards.


During the late 1700s there were multiple fights and arguments going on between religious and political groups in England. With all these riots and hatred towards each other, the people were getting fed up with what was going on inside their church. Eventually all of this madness came to a halt when the Glorious Revolution occurred in 1688. This revolution began what came to be known as the Church of England that would basically be the head-church over the whole country. Other religions were still practiced, but they became extremely weak compared to the Church of England. Politically this change was rather helpful because everyone now practiced the same things, but from a different stand point this was not the case. Religions became very washed up in the colonies. People began claiming others were only “going through the motions,” and not taking a stand for what they believe. With everyone’s hearts not fully into their religion, the leaders of the church realized that something needed to be done. The solution they came up with is known as the Great Awakening.

This period of revival turned people away from the importance of church doctrine and instead reemphasized the importance of focusing on ones own spiritual relationship.
The Great Awakening was rather significant for the time period. New denominations and religions were established because people felt a sense of an individual relationship, making the religion more personal to them. Also the Great Awakening seemed to unify the colonies in a way that had never been done before. By everyone coming together, preachers from all around the country had the sense of urgency to tell the good news. In some ways this movement encouraged people to come back to their own religion, but it also might have turned them away for good.

In this video, the Great Awakening, and all of its importance, is explained in further detail.

As you noticed in the video, one of the major prolific preachers during the Great Awakening was a man named Jonathan Edwards. While reading his personal narrative, I realized Jonathan Edwards went through a great deal of his life wanting to be closer to God and then falling away from him again. This act was repeated several times as he grew up, until eventually he KNEW where he needed to be. http://mith.umd.edu/eada/html/display.php?docs=edwards_personalnarrative.xml&action=show

After having this personal change in his life, all he wanted to do was tell others about it. Known as one of the most intense sermons of all time, Edward’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” oddly enough, had no effect on his own church when he preached it. As he took it to other places though, people either absolutely loved it, or hated it. A great deal of people did not like what they were hearing from Edwards. They felt as if he himself was condemning them with every word that he said. Edwards did not let those people’s opinions hinder him. He continued to preach the sermon everywhere he went. When enough people grew tired of his truthful but harsh words, he was asked to leave the church. All he was trained to do was preach. This created a major conflict in his families life. He had to find a job preaching and once he finally did, he contracted smallpox and died before it even began. Although his efforts seemed to have been for nothing, he became a very prominent role in the greatest revival movement in all of history.


Did the boldness of Anne Bradstreet’s writings change the way society viewed women?

A remarkable poet by the name of Anne Bradstreet was born in 1612 in England. Later in life, she came to the America’s with her entire family and created a hobby that became very influential in the society. As Bradstreet began her writings, she had no intentions of them being published. Most of her poems were very personal letters to her husband and children that she kept close to her, considering that they were originally only for her and her family’s eyes. When a close friend of hers stole her writings and had them published without her permission, Anne was a little hurt and she had every right to be. Little did she know that this could have possibly been the greatest thing anyone had done for her. In the Puritan society she was a part of, women were inferior to men. Bradstreet strongly disagreed with this idea and constantly made comments in her writing about the stereotype. Who knew her writings could possibly change the way society viewed women in the 1600’s?

In the 16th and 17th century, the Puritan belief was strongly enforced. The idea of this religious sect was to keep men as the main leader of society and for all women to be work under them. The role of most women was to take care of the house and care for their children without getting in the way of their husband. Women were not allowed to think for themselves and in absolutely no way be smarter than men. If any woman decided to speak out against this discrimination, she was shunned and no man had anything to do with her.

This video expresses the daily routine of a Puritan family during this time period.

In this picture the evidence is clear of how men felt as if they were superior to women and children. Clearly you can see the proud look on the man’s face and the cowering look on the woman and children’s faces.



Anne Bradstreet became one of the few brave women who decided to take stand on what she believed. Although she may not have done it on purpose, her works were published and society was shocked that a woman could have the capability to write and publish the way a man could. Another brave woman during those times was Anne Hutchinson. She wanted to express to women everywhere how this relationship where men are superior to men, is not healthy. Unfortunately in her efforts she is killed for being so outspoken about what she believes.

Bradstreet felt that she could sincerely change the way society viewed women. Although in her efforts she allowed more women to stand up for themselves, but women did not gain the rights and respect from men until the women’s rights movement began in the late 1800’s. This movement gave women hope that they were equal to men by giving them the right to work and do the majority of things that men could do, including the opportunity to vote.



All around the country Anne Bradstreet became a well-respected person and poet by many other women for her confidence in her writings. So in a way, Bradstreet began the process of considering the equality of men and women, but in no way was she completely responsible for it.

Why was John Smith so determined to stay in the settlement when everyone else around him wanted to leave so bad?!

As I was reading The General History by Captain John Smith I struggled a little bit with the barrier created by the choice of language he used to write in. The portion of the story I read was difficult to read because of the time period it was written. Although that was not the only problem I seemed to face while learning about his adventure. One thing that constantly came to my mind was the fact that John Smith must have been an extremely stubborn man. Was there something or possibly someone in the town making him want to stay there so bad that no one else knew about?

Captain John Smith had a very outgoing attitude allowing him to be a great leader. Although it seemed as if his power went to his head a little too much. While he was out exploring, he expected the men he had brought with him to do all of the work with no complaints, this was not the case. Many of the men refused to do work so Smith created the rule that “He who will not work shall not eat” which caught everyone’s attention and even those most determined not to work picked up their share of labor. There were terrible conditions when they arrived in Jamestown. The lack of food and poor drinking water had most of Smith’s men a little doubtful about their decision to come to this new land at all.

The picture below illustrates John Smith forcefully encouraging his men to do the work or they cannot eat.



Throughout the story many of John Smith’s men were not happy with where they were for some reason, and threatened to leave and return home to England. A main reason they weren’t very happy was the fact that not many things were working out as planned. There was little food to survive, not many places to stay. Smith tried to encourage his men that the only way they will find the things they need was to explore. Many of his followers did not like this idea and felt that nothing good would come of it. In fact most of them planned to escape three different times, but Smith did not want that to happen and talked them into staying a little bit longer.

Although some of John Smith’s men did not like the idea of exploring, he still went and sometimes even alone. On one of his later journeys he was captured by the Indian chief Powhatan. In many stories we are told that Powhatan had planned to kill him when the chief’s daughter, Pocahontas, saved him. A few days later the chief told Smith he considered him as a son and sent him on his way back to Jamestown with a deal stating that his people would provide John Smith’s people with the food they needed.

Here is a picture of Chief Powhatan as depicted by how John Smith saw him when he was imprisoned.



All in all, the settlement of Jamestown turned out to be a success. With everyone thinking he had lost his mind and had no clue what he was getting them all into, John Smith never gave up his plan and perhaps changed the hearts of all those against him. He knew this land would eventually be much better for them than what they originally had and he was determined not to stop until he accomplished his goal.

Some people claim that if John Smith and his men never came, Jamestown would have never survived. Perhaps John felt a sense of accomplishment by initially saving Jamestown that there was no way he going to leave after he was considered a hero.

This is me :)

My name is Rebecca Bowen and I am a freshman here at JSU. I graduated from Saks High School where I was a State Champion in softball my senior year. I am a member of Westwood Baptist Church. My family means the world to me and I have two nephews, Carson and Cayce, that completely have my heart. This semester I am taking this class because I had Mrs. Christopher for STU and I enjoyed her teaching very much so I decided to take this class. I’m very excited about taking this class and learning literature in a new way that has never been done before! 🙂