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Henry David Thoreau and Walden - Essay Example

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Henry David Thoreau focused his writings on how man was affected by nature. He wrote from an autobiographical point of view revealing his own internal conflict with mans struggle against nature. In his novel Walden, he reveals his mental and spiritual beliefs through a personal journey in which he strives to become in tune with nature, working not to be victorious over these universal forces, but rather to participate in harmony with nature, in tern exposing love and truth…
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Henry David Thoreau and Walden
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"Henry David Thoreau and Walden"

Download file to see previous pages Thoreau introduced an idea of man as an individual, rather than a subject, by thoroughly describing the way a citizen should live in many of his works. Thoreau's essay, "Civil Disobedience," accentuated personal ethics and responsibility. It urged the individual to follow the dictates of conscience in any conflict between itself and civil law, and to violate unjust laws to invoke their repeal. He directly supplements these arguments he presents in his essay. One night in July in 1846, during his stay at Walden, Thoreau was walking into Concord from the pond when he was approached by the jailer, and charged with not paying his poll tax. Thoreau did not pay his poll tax since 1843 when a friend of his spent the night in jail for not paying his. He did not see why he should have to pay the tax, he had never voted, and he knew that the political tax had to be related with the funding of the Mexican War and the support of slavery, both of which he strongly objected to.
In Walden, he questions the lifestyles that people choose. He makes his readers wonder if they have been chosen the kind of life that will really offer them happiness. Are they merely living a career or some other narrowly routine or is a worthwhile life being lived. Thoreau wonders if the truly valuable elements of life are being taken advantage of if a person is not living simply. If a person is so caught up in working or never having enough in life, one wonders, and satisfaction are difficult to obtain. As he states in the beginning Walden, "most men, even in this comparatively free country, though mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that is finer fruits cannot be plucked by them"1. This means that people care more about the finer things in life and easier work instead of nature's gifts and hard work. Thoreau draws a parallel between others preoccupation with money and his own enjoyment of non-monetary wealth.

Thoreau discusses the issue of how we spend our time and energies. It is obvious that his townspeople are not as economical as they spend many hours working very hard to accomplish very little, showing a false sense of economy. Thoreau believed that all attempts to redeem mankind form its problems were useless unless such attempts began with the person. Thoreau thought that by living simply with few needs or material possessions man would have more time to enjoy life its fullest natural potential.

According to Thoreau humans must not struggle so long and hard to merely harmonize with the beliefs of society and what human nature ought to be. We must stray away from the path beaten into our minds since we were infants and attain self-actualization through a unity with nature, as the self is the absolute center of reality. The entire universe, and all that is external, is emitted from the self, which gets its reality from the inner self. Self-reliance is thus not only economical but also social and spiritual. In "Economy", Thoreau seems almost obsessed with the idea that he can support himself completely through his own labor, which will also reap a profit. He even goes so far as to write out detailed lists of his accounting, such as the cost of his housing and how much he has spent on salt. He must work for what he ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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