Explore the complex relationship between Thoreau and Emerson as it is depicted here.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like so much in the wor that Thoreau perceives, there is an intricate relationship between he and Emerson.  On one hand, there is a natural respect and reverence that Thoreau has towards Emerson.  He believes in the words and ideas that Waldo preaches.  In fact, Thoreau probably believes in these notions in too much of an intense manner.  It is here where there is complexity.  For Thoreau, Emerson laid out the theory.  He cannot understand why Waldo refuses to make the next step and bridge theory and reality.  This becomes the basis of their relationship and why there is complexity within it.  Both believe in the same elements and ideas, yet one understands them from a theoretical point of view while the other utilizes freedom to make theory into reality.  It is here where Thoreau has difficulty recognizing Waldo's limits.  At the same time, it is here where Waldo recognizes that a line cannot be crossed.  It is also at this point where their relationship becomes stressed and strained because neither one can understand why the other does not conform to the other's subjective view of consciousness.  In this, both of them are left to understand the other as opposite of the other, yet rooted in the other.  It is here where there is complexity and challenge in their friendship.

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The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

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