Samuel Johnson’s “Rambler #5” and “Idler #31”

“Idler #31”

Samuel Johnson revealed his ideas on idle people and the nature of idleness in his essay “Idler #31”. The author contemplates the essence of idleness. First, Johnson depicts an idler who buries him/herself in the complete darkness. One could understand Johnson’s words literally, but the author does not leave such a chance as he proceeds with a kind of interpretation of his ideas on idleness. Johnson states that idleness is not simply staying in bed, but idleness is the inability to act and develop. The author reveals a very important idea that “nobody is busy to censure or detect it” as idleness is often covert (Johnson 2678).

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Thus, Johnson introduces his “old friend Sober” (2679). The author notes that Mr. Sober is not seen as an idle man as he is always busy with some affairs. Mr. Sober tries to find something by carrying out various experiments. However, Johnson claims that this is the true idleness as no one needs experiments held by Mr. Sober. No one can find Mr. Sober’s words and viewpoints useful. He is seemingly active, though he does not do anything worthy.

“Rambler #5”

Another Johnson’s essay “Rambler #5” dwells upon people’s life. This essay is very didactic as many other writings by the writer. Here Johnson contemplates one of the people’s characteristic features, i.e. dissatisfaction. The writer states that people are always dissatisfied and even if they get what they want they manage to find various things to be discontent about. Johnson reveals a man’s secret of being satisfied by “referring the removal of all his uneasiness to the coming of the next spring” (2675).

The writer expresses his fascination with this season. The writer contemplates the diversity of nature, and he also stresses that there should be some diversity among people. At the end of the essay, the writer states that people should remember that beauty of spring flowers is only certain preparation for autumnal fruit. Thus, it becomes clear that the essays are not only about nature, it is also about youth which is the period when people should be delighted with new experiences, and they should never forget about gaining knowledge which will become the basis of their maturity.

Idlers Are Among Us

Notably, though the two essays touch upon very important ideas, I would like to focus on the essay “Idler #31”. I agree with Johnson in every point made. I have also noticed that some people only seem to do something important while they simply waste other people’s (and their own) time. Many people try to occupy themselves with some things which are ‘convenient’, i.e. the things which do not require much effort. These people choose the easiest path which leads nowhere.

Unfortunately, there are too many idlers in our world (in every society). What is more, idleness is quite difficult to detect. Johnson is right in claiming that idleness is often disregarded by people who usually focus on ‘overt’ vices. However, idleness is a dangerous sin that can spread quickly. Johnson calls to attention. I agree that people should be more attentive to each other, and, more importantly, they must be more attentive to themselves. It is essential to make sure idleness has not penetrated one’s life. It is important to look for new ways and choose paths that require a lot of attention and courage. This is the only way to live to avoid idleness in one’s life. Eventually, if everyone is attentive and active enough, idleness can be driven away from all societies.

Works Cited

Johnson, Samuel. “Idler #31.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1: The Middle Ages through the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. 2678-2680. Print.

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—. “Rambler #5.” The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 1: The Middle Ages through the Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. Ed. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 2006. 2675-2678. Print.

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"Samuel Johnson’s "Rambler #5" and "Idler #31"." StudyCorgi, 6 May 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Samuel Johnson’s "Rambler #5" and "Idler #31"." May 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Samuel Johnson’s "Rambler #5" and "Idler #31"." May 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Samuel Johnson’s "Rambler #5" and "Idler #31"." May 6, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Samuel Johnson’s "Rambler #5" and "Idler #31"'. 6 May.

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