The purpose of this research paper is to discuss and assess both Ralph
Waldo Emerson’s and Henry David Thoreau’s views regarding solitude and
isolation as well as its relationship to modern times, as depicted within their
literary contributions. Both Emerson and Thoreau contributed much in the
way of literary contributions which underscore the importance and value of
solitude and isolation which, I believe, are demonstrable in terms of
contemporary times. To this extent, I shall attempt to point this out
throughout this research paper, and as well shall identify specific examples.

To begin with, I should like to offer an overview of each as well as a body
and conclusion as to the how and why solitude and isolation manifest
themselves as themes throughout their literary contributions and their
reflection towards modern times. As is often the case, themes and authors
are best understood in terms of their personal backgrounds and experiences.

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For example, Emerson was the son of a Boston Unitarian minister who
attended Harvard College (1817-21) and studied as well as preached the
Christian word. Before becoming a successful writer, Emerson had a career
as a lecturer and was one of the early innovators of the transcendental
movement, which basically questioned all of that which surrounded our
society (i.e., literature, religion, philosophy, etc.). Emerson and Thoreau
were neighbors and his writings on self-reliance speaks of a man who may
trust himself against a society that, “…everywhere is in a conspiracy against
the manhood of any one of its members. Nothing can bring you peace but
yourself. The nature of the soul is the compensation for the inequalities of
condition.” Emerson further recommends truth and tenderness as the basis of
genuine friendship in his treatise on friendship