In self-reliant becoming a wiser and sadder woman

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Last updated: July 16, 2019

In comparison, Frances E.W Harper and Emerson would relate to many different topics. One, in particular, would be the topic of self-reliance. To be self-reliant is “to be reliant on oneself or one’s powers”. Emerson gives a description of what he finds it means to be truly self-reliant in his “Trust Thyself” quote.  Frances illustrates this self- reliance shared by Emerson throughout “The Two Offers”. In “The Two Offers” by Frances E.

W Harper, she introduces the two main characters being, Laura Lagrange and Janet Alston. Two cousins who face similar problems but go about them in different ways. The two would grow up on completely different values, Laura being born into a rich family to parents who “spared no pains to make her an accomplished lady”. Janette, on the other hand, was showered with the wealth of love.

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Laura would choose the wrong partner in marriage and Janet would go on to become an old maid. For Laura her dream was to become married, believing that this would fulfill all of her happiness within her life. Never anticipating that any faults would occur, her husband began to change spending the majority of his time away from home. She would wait for him to return all the way to her deathbed. Laura was dependent on her husband for happiness, becoming an old maid was the worst thing she believed could happen to her; but her marriage provided her with just as much sorrow.

 Although becoming an old maid, Janet would also be content with her life. She would learn the value of being self-reliant. Accepting the misfortunes that have come to her and the challenges of her life. In the essay “The Two Offers” it states “Too self-reliant to depend on the charity of relations, she endeavored to support herself…”. This quote is in direct relation to Emerson quote. Moreover, Janet shows what it means to be self-reliant becoming a wiser and sadder woman when walking away from her cousin’s deathbed.

In the moment she learns a life lesson “True happiness consists not so much in the fruition of our wishes as in the regulation of desires…” – “The Two Offers” Whereas Laura did not grasp this concept, of self-reliance, not accepting herself but instead wanting someone to do it for him, leading to her death of a saddened heartbreak and a husband to never come. 

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