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Analyis of Walden by Thoreau

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Walden by Henry David Thoreau is a classic in American literature. It is about a young Thoreau who decided to go and live in the woods in 1844 and his subsequent sojourner there for the next two years (pg. vii). It is chock full of good, simple, down-to-earth advice about how to live one’s life and enough eloquent language to keep a reader pondering for ages; however, the novel can be viewed in quite an unusual way: Through the lens of the world of biology. This way of viewing the novel presents a window into the past for biologists of today and allows the field to gain new insights through the writings of Thoreau, but what qualified him to give accurate information about the subject?

Henry David Thoreau, even before attending Harvard, was a naturalist at heart. As a younger man, he read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Nature and afterwards was filled with the roaming thoughts of trees and animals. After finishing school, Thoreau worked for some time as a surveyor in Massachusetts (“Henry David Thoreau”). This line of work certainly affected the young man’s views on nature simply because he was out and about everyday viewing natural scenes and phenomenon firsthand and analyzing what he saw. Thoreau might very well have witnessed some natural process happening right before his eyes and asked the most common questions of “Why?” or “How?” in an effort to understand what was happening. While it isn’t clear what Thoreau might have seen or experienced as a surveyor to make him even more acute with his naturalist senses, it is known that after this time he became a very firm (and perhaps the second most famous) transcendentalist. Transcendentalism, led by Thoreau’s friend Ralph Waldo Emerson, focused on being able to see beyond what ...

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... writing a compendium for the ages that people would read in order to learn about his time alone; Thoreau understood what it meant to isolate the spirit in order to let it soar to new heights, but he did not realize what a scientific and biological wonder he was also penning at the same time in the same work. For Walden is not just a prize for the literary community, it is a prize, also, for the scientific community who can use the words Thoreau wrote nearly two centuries ago in order to understand our modern world in new ways that could change it forever.

Works Cited

"Henry David Thoreau." American Transcendentalism Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.

Thoreau, Henry D. Walden. Ed. Walter Harding. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1995. Print.

"Transcendentalism, An American Philosophy." Ushistory.org. Independence Hall Association, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
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