Back to Nature in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

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In Walden, Henry David Thoreau explains how a relationship with nature reveals aspects of the true self that remain hidden by the distractions of society and technology. To Thoreau, the burdens of nineteenth century existence, the cycles of exhausting work to obtain property, force society to exist as if it were "slumbering." Therefore, Thoreau urges his readers to seek a spiritual awakening. Through his rhetoric,Thoreau alludes to a "rebirth" of the self and a reconnection to the natural world. The text becomes a landscape and the images become objects, appealing to our pathos, or emotions, our ethos, or character, and our logos, or logical reasoning, because we experience his awakening. Thoreau grounds his spirituality in the physical realities of nature, and allows us to experience our own awakening through his metaphorical interpretations. As we observe Thoreau¹s awakening, he covertly leads us to our own enlightenment. Thoreau submerges us into the text through his language, thereby allowing us to come as close to his experience of solitude in nature as he allows. Author Lawrence Buell explains that, as "Walden unfolds the mock serious discourse of enterprise, which implicitly casts the speaker as self-creator of his environment, begins to give way to a more ruminative prose in which the speaker appears to be finding himself within his environment" (122). Buell explains that Thoreau invites us inside the text and allows us to see the images he sees and to feel the life around him. His strategy is to disengage us from the chains that society so elegantly places around our ankles, and allow us to return to where we are closest to our natural essence. This essence can only be found, according to Thoreau, by secluding ourse... ... middle of paper ... ...again. We are the beautiful life represented by the "bug," and our advancements have only created the barriers that surround us. The last image Thoreau creates is one of perseverance and hope for our rebirth. Thoreau sees beyond the power and economic structures that society creates and offers an alternative. He uses Walden Pond as his central metaphor and recreates his experiences through his imagery. His recognition of the pond, and the natural world surrounding it, not only establishes an atmosphere for spiritual growth, but also succeeds in creating a paradigm for society to follow in order to achieve the same. He assembles an instruction manual for the purpose of spiritual discovery and discovery of the self. Work Cited Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. 1862. Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau. Ed. Joseph Wood Krutch. New York: Bantam, 2001.

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