Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Emerson is a source of inspiration for Thoreau.  At a time when definition if vague and imprecise, Henry finds Waldo to be the laser- like focus that gives meaning to his own being.  Through listening and hearing his lectures, Henry becomes the embodiment of Emersonian principles and ideas.  Whereas Emerson is shown to be someone who speaks about ideals, Thoreau actually lives it.  The relationship between both of them is the gap between theory and reality.  In Emerson, there is the theoretical foundation of how to live one's life in accordance to Transcendentalism.  In Thoreau, there is the actual embodiment of such philosophical tenets into reality.  In the relationship between both there is strict collision because the social and political context that envelops both forces challenge, something that Emerson is shown incapable of being able to confront.  In this, Emerson has a profound impact on Thoreau not only because of his inspiration value, but also because his ineffectiveness in the face of real and definable social realities convinces Henry of the need to engage in even more spirited and intense activism, if nothing else to counteract the lack of presence on Emerson's part.

Read the study guide:
The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question