What Are the Differences Between Thoreau and Emerson?

Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson were similar in many tenets of the philosophies to which they held but differed in that Thoreau’s approach was inherently personal while Emerson’s was removed and observational. Emerson believed that the philosopher’s duty was to observe without interaction, while Thoreau believed men should live their beliefs.

Thoreau championed the idea of living in harmony with nature. He uprooted his life to Walden Pond and lived there in contemplation while writing poetry and tending a garden.

Emerson lectured, taught and published extensively. He made active contributions to the academic world of his time and did not seek seclusion or hermitage as Thoreau did, believing participation was better.