1 “that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide; that he must take himself for better, for worse” Here he is saying that you need to have your own opinions and you can’t rely on other peoples thoughts.
2 “He cumbers himself never about consequences, about interests: he gives an independent, genuine verdict” He believes that children are too young to be on trusting or overcritical of their own ideas but as adults we look for approval from the opinion of others and that makes us unsure so we don’t act genuinely because we‘re afraid of what other people will think.
3 “ I tell thee, thou foolish philanthropist, that I grudge the dollar, the dime, the cent, I give to such men as do not belong to me and to whom I do not belong.” Here he refuses to support through money organizations or people that he is not directly related to. He believes the act of charity should begin and end at home.
4 “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.” He is saying here that you are distracted from making a unique contribution to society if you just tend to like everything everybody else likes. It takes away from the time you could be spending creating something new that you actually believe in.
5 “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” Here he is saying that if you never allow your opinions to change your just small minded.
6 “When private men shall act with original views, the lustre will be transferred from the actions of kings to those of gentlemen.” When normal men who are not kings were very rich do what is right and necessary regardless of others of opinions or criticisms he is like a godly man.
7 “Nature suffers nothing to remain in her kingdoms which cannot help itself” In nature if you cannot help yourself you will simply die. It’s that way in life to according to Emerson.
8 His entire passage is about self-reliance. Live your own life do what you think is good and right and forget about what everybody else tells you to do or tells you to say and you‘ll be just fine.
What Questions come up? I believe he’s way off on charity. Because people are weak spirited it does not mean they deserve to die. Because all populations don’t have the ability in their minds to rise up and take over political regimes for instance does not mean that they are undeserving of life itself. Charity can help people by lifting them up and letting them see what they can do by helping them so I completely disagree with him about charity.
What is the main idea? The main idea is about self-reliance living your own life and doing what you think is right even if everybody hates you for it at least it’s original.