Rebecca Owens Certified Educator Since the other two answers deal primarily with the similarities between Emerson and Thoreau, I will try to focus on what I think is the most important difference between the two. While it is clear that Thoreau would hold similar beliefs about self and about the significance of Nature in its potential to unlock truth as Emerson, his mentor, what I find to be the most striking difference between the two is the literal extent Since the other two answers deal primarily with the similarities between Emerson and Thoreau, I will try to focus on what I think is the most important difference between the two.
Biographical Information Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts to a close-knit family. Within his house were his mother, father, two sisters, and brother. He was born during a period of rapid changes in the United States. Thoreau lived during the early phases of the American Industrial Revolution and the rise of populous textile mills at the confluence of the Concord and Merrimack rivers and up and down the Merrimack River; he lived during the rise of the telegraph; he lived during the time of westward expansion, the California gold rush, the Mexican-American War, and staunch resistance to slavery from the abolitionists.
While all these play an important role in his texts, Thoreau chose the railroad as an enigmatic presence and force in New England. The railroad was extending across the United States, and its whistle penetrated the recesses of the woods around Concord. The train explicitly represents great power, technological innovation, the rule of commerce, and cultural progress, but it also carries the connotation of the displacement of animals, the destruction of the natural world, and the pernicious powers of the market.
He saw the unfavorable consequences of the market not only in the natural world, but the changes in human communities, and the diminishment of life worried him. Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.
Their fingers, from excessive toil, are too clumsy and tremble too much for that. Actually, the laboring man has not leisure for a true integrity day by day; he cannot afford to sustain the manliest relations to men; his labor would be depreciated in the market.
He has no time to be anything but a machine. A consumer society is based on the ability to create a desire for new products; to maintain this high level of dependence on material goods, people have to work more.
These artificial cares, or desires for unneeded goods, diminished the time available for rejuvenating activities and quality interpersonal relations. In a society of technological advancement and the increased use of machines, human beings were beginning to become more mechanized.
They were machines guided by the timetable of the market and robotic laborers doing unsatisfying jobs. To counteract this dehumanizing process, Thoreau chose to make his life an example of simple living and his writings fruits of his countercultural lifestyle.
Within this context, he is probably best known for his experiment at Walden Pond. This was his personal declaration of independence. For two years, two months, and two days from July 4, to September 6,Thoreau dedicated his life to frugality and writing the only two books published during his lifetime: A Week and Walden.
His townspeople persistently inquired why he chose to live aloof from society, and Thoreau gave his answer in a famous passage in the second chapter of Walden: I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life. He partially withdrew from society, so he could experience life more directly, being able to confront it on its simplest terms. His withdrawal, then, concerned living more fully and as simply as possible.
Inhe had to publish A Week with his own money, and Thoreau remained in debt to the publisher for several years. Walden, which was published inwas more warmly received, but generally throughout his life, people did not see Thoreau as an accomplished author.
It was not until years later, around the beginning of the twentieth century, when people started to appreciate Thoreau more, and Houghton Mifflin Co. Around the time of his graduation from college, he became better acquainted with Emerson personally, and they developed a type of mentoring friendship.
For Thoreau, however, life and literature were not two distinct realms; in fact, he was accustomed to a way of seeing the world that merged different areas of study. He was comfortable with transgressing intellectual boundaries; this is seen most clearly, for example, in his study of the natural world.
Thoreau was a land surveyor; in fact, he was one of the most accurate and trusted surveyors in, and around, the Concord area. He was accustomed to spending time outdoors, which was largely a daily routine and constituted hours of his day.
Thoreau was fond of the natural world; arguably, one could see it as a type of romantic or friendly fondness. He studied nature intensively, such as documenting the date that specific flowers bloomed, the rise and fall of water levels, and the dispersion patterns of seeds.
At the time, this scientific outlook was called natural philosophy, and Thoreau often identified himself as a natural philosopher. This passion of his, however, went much deeper than science; he saw nature as an important part of the human context, so to study nature was to study humanity, too.A Comparison of Thoreau’s Philosophy of Transcendentalism and My Own Life Philosophy ( words, 2 pages) The writings of Henry David Thoreau clearly show his acceptance intranscendentalism.
Transcendentalism is a philosophy which says thatthought and spiritual things are more real than ordinary human experienceand material things. - In New England, Congregational Church grew into one of the biggest movements of religion, literature and philosophy as a reform in the early nineteenth-century in American history.
A group of people including former Unitarian ministers made American transcendentalism started its transformation of the American intellect. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau were both nineteenth century writers who express a philosophy of life based on our inner self.
I will examine various philosophies as they relate to Emerson and Thoreau's attitude toward the man's plight toward existence and independence. - Transcendentalism Transcendentalism was a movement in philosophy, literature, and religion that emerged and was popular in the nineteenth century New England because of a need to redefine man and his place in the world in response to a new and changing society.
Broadly speaking, Transcendentalism was characterized by individuality, a strong belief in the human spirit, and the idea that people ought to obey the dictates of their own conscience. Jun 16, · Thoreau’s assertion that that “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof” indicates his intention of tediously controlling every aspect of his life in the woods and proactively searching for an unshakable foundation for his philosophy of life (Thoreau , 11).