Emerson: The Mind on Fire: A Biography Short Essay - Answer Key

Robert D. Richardson
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1. What is Emerson doing when Richardson introduces us to him?

Emerson is grieving for his dead wife Ellen, visiting her grave daily, and one day he opens her casket to see the decay.

2. How does Richardson describe Emerson as a student?

Emerson was poor as a student at Harvard, and he had to work his way through school, but he got a liberal and practical education there. He graduated as the class poet, a distinction five other students had turned down by the time he claimed it.

3. What turning point did Emerson reach in his junior year of college?

In classes with Edward Everett, who had visited sites of antiquity himself, Emerson became determined to be a writer, or at least to know his environment for himself through first-hand experience.

4. How does Richardson describe Emerson as a child?

According to Richardson, Emerson was a middle child, silly and not as determined or promising as his four brothers, all of whom received the same devoutly religious education from their mother, and the same account of the family's distinguished noble heritage from their aunt Mary Moody Emerson.

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