Emersonian Interpretation of Arthur Dimmesdale and Daniel Defoe

İsaoğlu H.

11th International IDEA Conference: "Studies in English", Ankara, Turkey, 12 April 2017, pp.60

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: Ankara
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.60
  • Yıldız Technical University Affiliated: No


Ralph Waldo Emerson’s well-known essay “Self-Reliance” mainly discusses the basic steps that should be followed to become a complete individual: briefly, he says: achieving self-reliance comes from trusting yourself and being honest with that self. He describes how a person should be, what characteristics to have, and the importance of becoming self-reliant. Emersonian fulfilment of self-reliance can be seen in different fictional works, his ideas and definition of self-reliance provides insight to analyze two significant fictional characters from an Emersonian perspective: one is Arthur Dimmesdale by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and the other one is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. Hawthorne’s depiction of Arthur Dimmesdale is an example of how an individual fails to possess the feeling of self-reliance. Throughout the novel, Hawthorne focuses on the weakness and fears of Dimmesdale which retains him from being a self-reliant individual. On the other hand Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe manages to achieve self-reliance despite having difficult times. Robinson’s existence on the island actually deepens his self-reliance since he withdraws from the external society that is far from him and as a result he turns inward. Being alone on a desert island provokes the feeling of self-reliance, which is necessary to survive. He manages to survive as a self-reliant man by depending on his capabilities, logic, and personal instincts.

Key words: self-reliance, isolation, self-awareness, fear, connection