Emerson-Simple Enough to Be Good

Janice Min
Period 2
Emerson- simple enough to be good
Thoreau believed that the writer is what he wrote. Looking at his two passages, Emerson is a very capricious person. He contradicts himself with two of his journal entries. One says that “it is very hard to be simple enough to be good” and the other defines what a man should be like, and it is certainly not hard to reach, or “simple” in the way that means pure and monk-like. By analyzing what Emerson means, there are two possible contradictions: Either he is contradicting the difficulty of being simple where “simple” means modest yet happy or he is contradicting the way he thinks an impressive life should be lived be where “simple” means ascetic.
One of the two journal entries state, “it is very hard to be simple enough to be good.” I am guessing that it means that is difficult to lead an ascetic life. He then opinionates that to be happy, a man must lead a simple life and not take himself too seriously. He states that a simple “man must have aunts and cousins, must buy carrots and turnips, must have a barn and woodshed, must go to the market and to the blacksmith’s shop, must saunter and sleep and be inferior and silly.” The second statement is not ascetic at all; in fact it goes against the ascetic lifestyle. Too be ascetic, one must reach a state of enlightenment. A monk-like, enlightened person would not be inferior and silly–he would be superior and serious–comical at the least, but not silly. Also, the simple man described in the second statement lives in proximity to an urban center, has some money, and is loose on living habits.
If Emerson was not referring to an ascetic lifestyle when he wrote that “it is very hard to be simple enough to be good,” then he is still contradicting himself with his definition of what a happy and simple life should be. The simple life a man should live, according to Emerson, does not sound very hard to achieve; in fact it is what most people already...