The first line of the pasage reads, " There is a time in every ans education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance: that imitation is suicide..." What do you think Emerson means by this? Hoe does his working here tie in with the themes in other stories like The Great Gatsby, The Shawshank Redemption or Sula?
You have asked about a classic high school reading assignment! Here, I will break it down for you (Emerson's language is often metaphorical and hard to cut through) and help you compare this piece to others.
First, some background on Emerson that applies to this piece. Emerson's philosophy, shared by many, is that the ultimate source of truth is within ourselves. We are often not in tune with ourselves or lack trust in ourselves to find these truths and so must often depend on other people or books to express it for us, but it is always within us. Trusting oneself means trusting that somehow or other we have an innate wisdom which is a projection of the god within, and that every person has that inner wisdom.
Emerson leaves the reader to personalize what he writes to their own world. It can be confusing! For example, at the beginning of the essay he mentions verses he has read that are original, but he does not tell you what those verses are. You have to imagine what "original" might be. His emphasis is on originality and recognizing your own ability to be original and not imitative. After all, he can't say what would be original for you, could he? But he wants you to ...