"Ralph Waldo Emerson
," Self-Reliance "by
Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, from" Plan of the West Roxbury Community "
We are getting into the meat of the Transcendentalist movement, and since now you know how good the writers are and about the places and ideas within the movement, I'm excited to see what you all think about these essays. They all deal with the (very important) idea of self-reliance (as first defined by Emerson in the above essay). Also, a couple of the essays deal with the idea of utopia – the idea that men and women can gather together to form "perfect" life, shared responsibilities and shared community. Utopias were pretty much happening monthly / yearly around this time, and well, they all failed. And that's important. Thoreau refused to join any of them, as did Emerson. But the idea of the utopia definitely falls in line with how Emerson (professed to want to) live, and definitely how Thoreau lived while at Walden.
In the three essays I had you read the idea of self-reliance vs. community-reliance was presented in different forms. The idea of a utopia was also discussed at length. Transcendentalists became somewhat famous for their failed utopias in the 19th-century, and Emerson and Thoreau were quite critical of the men and women who thought Utopias would actually be. Louisa May Alcott's father Amos Bronson Alcott was basically obsessed with forming a utopic community, and all of his efforts basically went nowhere. But I tried, and tried hard. But his ideas ran contrary to the very movement he was trying to be a part of, as was clear in Emerson's "Self-Reliance," and made more clear in Thoreau's Walden. So, that's what I want.
Create a utopia. And write about it. Make it all up, and discuss EVERYTHING that will take part in your community to make it work. Write the rules of the community, the duties that everyone will do and why they will do them and how they will make their community function seamlessly. Name your utopia and place it somewhere in the country where you think it will thrive, and discuss why you think it will thrive there specifically. Use Emerson's "Self-Reliance" to help you out (which will be very much a counter-argument here – in other words, argue with Emerson and discuss why self-reliance is no good, but rather community-reliance is a better choice. These will be VERY specific, because your grade will be largely based on how well you can convince me that your community will work. In other words,
Hint: Google "Brook Farm" and "Fruitlands" to help you understand how and why these communities failed.
These can be as long as you want, but they should be at least three pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 pt. Font, 1 "margins all around);
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