Self-aggrandizement is a form of behavior that promotes an individual’s image as being significant in society. Self-aggrandizement causes people to exaggerate their own value or prestige in society, making them seem arrogant. Although taking pride in one’s accomplishment is a positive trait, unnecessary and exaggerated talk about one’s accomplishment is often frowned upon by society. Self-depreciation is the polar opposite of self-aggrandizement, in which people underestimate their successes and talents in contrast to how others view them. Although most cultures regard this as modesty and highly value it, it is negative and can contribute to poor self-perception (Roberton et al., 260). Although it is hard to find a middle ground between self-aggrandizement and self-deprecation, this art is key to getting an excellent public and self-image.
In self-reliance, Ralph Waldo argues that the polite society has negative effects the personal growth of individuals. Divided into three parts, the writing urges readers to follow their will instead of conforming to the expectations of the society. In the first section, paragraph 1 to 17, Emerson talks about the barriers and values of self-reliance. Emerson defines self-reliance as dependence on one’s thoughts and ideas(Raph, 8). The society has however made us not to use own thoughts and conform to what it dictates. Consequently, the natural self-reliant individual gradually becomes a conformer of the societal norms. In the second section, from paragraph 18 to 32, the writer expounds how one can achieve self-reliance. Spontaneity, inherent capacity for independence, is the key to breaking the barriers of conformity (Raph, 21). Although this situation may be new, a self-reliant person must follow their inherent nature and trust in themselves and God. They must also stop worrying about the past and the future but focus on living in the present. The final section, paragraphs 33 to 35, the writer says that the aspects of self-reliance must be applied in all aspects of the society. He argues that the challenges we face today in religion, education and other aspects of life such as prayer (Raph, 31). In conclusion, Emerson says that to get peace with oneself, the triumph of principles must be applied.
In Kafka’s story, “ Metamorphosis” self-depreciation is the main theme which involves the main character in the novel. Gregor Samsa, the main nature of the narrative is the salesman and the protagonist. He hates his job but continues to work in it so that he can pay the debt he owns his father and at the same time meet his obligations to his family. He therefore shows disrespect to his self-worth which leads him to transformation to an insect. Although he is an insect on the outer body, Gregor remains with an inner struggle of trying to reconcile with human nature. The family’s actions towards Gregor, especially his father, further humiliates him and causes an eventual death.
Gregor’s conformity to the world is the leading cause of all his internal suffering he experiences. Gregor is quick to accept suffering both as a man as insect without questioning. He is quick to accept judgment by the society and easily conforms to regain acceptance. When his father’s business fails, Gregor takes the role of providing for the family without questioning and takes a job he detests, a traveling salesperson. He conforms to the societal norm imposed on him by his father that as a man in the house, he ought to have been the provider of the family. In the same way, when Gregor realizes that he had become an insect, he quickly accepts the state and tries to continue with life the best way he could in this current condition (Roberton et al., 260). This calm forbearance of the new state by Gregor shows how he takes his life as a person on whom the society and the world can impose actions quickly without questions.
The chief conflict that Gregor faces in the story is reconciling his human feelings with his physical body such as the lack of taste for his favorite food, milk. Even with his physical appearance, he still wants to go to work and fulfill his society imposed mandate of providing for the family. He finds it easy to hide behind the coach where it is dark even when the size of his body would not allow (Rahy, 71). He fights his former human emotions to fit in the new state. However, he still clings onto history, which does not earn him anything, and never let’s go off his picture on the wall while furniture is being removed from his room. This adaptation of roles finally weighs him down as he can no longer fit in the family who are at this time ashamed of him. In the end, the family decides that it was better if he would disappear (Kamerbeek, 67). Without complaining or questioning, Gregor accepts this fate to die in the interest of his family.
In Antigone, Sophocles presents an entirely different story from Kafka’ s Metamorphosis, where the main character is proud. This excess makes him, Creon, the tragic character in the story. His pride makes him make rules that later lead to his downfall at the end of the novel. Creon does not listen to anyone in the counsel and believes that e is self-righteous and deserving to rule as the supreme leader of the empire (Sorum, 203). Creon’s’ hubris does affect his fair dealing with other people in the empire as he does not even listen to the prophet when she advises him on the nature of the situation.
In general, extolling the virtues of a community over oneself and the opposite seem to have more negative repercussions to an individual. It is hence necessary that one strikes a balance between confidence and humility for a successful life (Rahy, 71). Having self-worth dictates that one takes actions that do not demean either their being or the society around them. I believe that in life one has to strike a balance between being themselves and what the society wants them to be as excessive actions against the society will lead to self-harm. The ideal state described by Wald is not possible to achieve as long as one lives in the society. In the end, the society always wins, and the resisting individual gets all the harm. This does not, however, mean that we conform to the rules of the society unquestionably. However, we must continuously fight to make our lives in the society as easy as possible.
The balance of the two different concepts is not uniform to all societies as some are more self-aggrandizement, such as in US, France, and Scotland while others are self-depreciating such as Britain, Germany, and Australian. It hence comes back to keeping oneself aware of the norms of the society they live in. The meaning of life is found from trying t understand the place in which we live (Van, 23). The works of Waldo are hence not very applicable in real life. In general, I would say that life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being what the society expects.
Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Self-reliance and other essays. Courier Corporation, 2012.
Kamerbeek, Jan Coenraad. The Plays of Sophocles: The Oedipus Coloneus. Vol. 7. Brill, 1984.
Rahv, Philip. “Franz Kafka: The Hero as Lonely Man.” The Kenyon Review 1.1 (1939): 60-74.
Robertson, Peter M., Elliott Kruse, and Sonja Lyubomirsky. “Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives.” Handbook of Humility: Theory, Research, and Applications (2016): 260.
Sorum, Christina Elliott. “The Family in Sophocles'” Antigone” and” Electra.”” The Classical World 75.4 (1982): 201-211.
Van Dijk, Teun A. Society and discourse: How social contexts influence text and talk. Cambridge University Press, 2009.