Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817 and died there peacefully on May 6, 1862. He was described by Hawthorne as "ugly as sin." He loved nature, and his constant preoccupation was exploring the woods and ponds making detailed observations of plants and creatures. Henry led a singular life, never marrying, and marching to his own drummer, as he put it. From 1845 to 1847, he lived alone in a small cabin he built by Walden Pond near Concord. He described this unique experiment in natural living in "Walden" criticizing those who "lead lives of quiet desperation" with all the trappings of customary society. His personal independence and straightforward manner was harsh to some people, and he gained very little recognition during his lifetime. .
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, to a family that had been prominent in the area since colonial times. Hawthorne was very handsome and never had problems with looks. When Nathaniel was four, his father died on a voyage in Surinam. Hawthorne was extremely concerned with traditional values. From 1836 to 1844, the Boston-centered Transcendentalist movement, led by Ralph Waldo Emerson, was an important force in New England intellectual circles. The Transcendentalists believed that human existence transcended the sensory realm, and rejected formalism in favor of individual responsibility. The Scarlet Letter shows some Transcendentalist influence, including a belief in individual choice and consequence, and an emphasis on symbolism. .
Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne are different and alike in many ways. Thoreau was a man that never married and believes each man should "march to his own drum" or go his own pace. Nathaniel Hawthorne on the other hand, was married very quickly. Thoreau was described "as ugly as sin with a long nose and queer mouth." Hawthorne was handsome on the outside, but depressed on the inside.