Walden Essay By Henry David Thoreau

Walden Essay By Henry David Thoreau-77
Also unlike Emerson, who would achieve great fame as a lecturer and essayist, Thoreau would remain relatively obscure during his lifetime, even as he circulated among the most important literary circles of his age.

Also unlike Emerson, who would achieve great fame as a lecturer and essayist, Thoreau would remain relatively obscure during his lifetime, even as he circulated among the most important literary circles of his age.

To an extent none of his other writings do, balances Thoreau’s various interests and themes—understanding nature from a scientific and spiritual perspective, criticizing nineteenth-century U. materialism and inequality on the basis of natural laws and spiritual truth, and experimenting with language as a way of conveying those laws and truths in order to transform himself and his society.

Thoreau was born in 1817 in Concord, where he lived almost the entirety of his life.

After resigning from his first job as a teacher because he refused to inflict corporal punishment, he opened a school with his brother John in Concord, which they ran together until 1841, when John became ill.

After John’s death in 1842, which would leave him without one of his closest companions, Thoreau took a teaching position in Staten Island as a way of gaining a foothold in the New York literary market. Following his experiment on Walden Pond, Thoreau continued in Concord, first living with the Emerson family for a short time, before returning to his family home, where he lived as a boarder until his death in 1862.

Written during his time at Walden Pond, the book ostensibly chronicles the trip Thoreau and his brother John took in 1839.

But Thoreau uses their journey both to mourn and remember his brother and to explore the philosophical and social questions at the core of his thought, the relationship between the self and nature, the history of Euro-American exploitation of American nature and its native inhabitants, and the connection between specific locales and times and the eternal and the universal.

The fundamental problem with government is that it takes on a life of its own, becoming, in Thoreau’s central metaphor in the essay, a machine that then attempts to treat individual men as machines lacking in thought or conscience. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.” Much of his critique is aimed at his many neighbors who ostensibly oppose slavery and the U.

In articulating his more specific focus, he grounds his critique in American political thought, recalling the Revolution in order to contend that “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.” While he seems to suggest that any violation of one’s sense of justice by the government would validate resisting the state by withholding one’s allegiance or by refusing to pay taxes, his argument largely relegates such extreme acts to only the most severe violation of right. S.-Mexican War but do little in actuality to stop the federal government from continuing as it has and, in supporting the government, actually further the injustices they claim to oppose, thus “practically” giving their support.

It is through his deeper engagement, his “closest acquaintance with Nature,” that Thoreau discovers the higher laws that guide his critique of American society.

In particular, in the chapter “Higher Laws,” Thoreau attempts to link the higher “spiritual life” with “a primitive,” more “rank hold on life,” even as he recognizes these instincts as quite distinct.


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