Emerson conceived of the “great man” as a lens through which people may see themselves.
For Emerson the great man is one who through superior endowments
“inhabits a higher sphere of thought, into which other men rise with labor and difficulty.
Such individuals may give direct material or metaphysical aid, but more frequently they serve indirectly by the inspiration of their accomplishment of things and by their introduction of ideas.
The great man does stirring deeds; he (or she) reveals knowledge and wisdom; he shows depths of emotion—and others resolve to emulate him.
He accomplishes intellectual feats of memory, of abstract thought, of imaginative flights, and dull minds are brightened by his light.
The true genius does not tyrannize; he liberates those who know him.”