Contrast Thoreau's Walden with Emerson's Self-Reliance.

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In both works, the authors are deeply concerned with and invested in the natural world. They revere nature and it is through their relationship or special connection with it that they express their individuality. They used their connection with nature to form their identities. Emerson’s approach is a practical one: he states we must remember to study nature to find the lessons it has to teach us; he also warns that, in getting away from those lessons and his connection with nature, man becomes overly concerned with what he has created.  Emerson knows that we must live in the world we have created, but he strongly reminds the reader to experience the solitude of nature to reflect.

Thoreau, on the other hand, took a more hands-on approach to his beliefs.  He built a cabin at Walden Pond, and he went there to live, in solitude, with no one around for miles.  Here, he reflects on living a simple life, away from all the technology and modern conveniences of his time.  Though some may say Thoreau’s experiment was not a success, Thoreau himself did not believe this.  He felt it was in the natural environment that men learn the lessons they need to carry with them into the technologically advanced normal world.