Walden; Or, Life In The Woods is a self-experiment that provides an ideal opportunity to evaluate the author’s philosophy. The book is an account of Henry David Thoreau’s journey of self-discovery as he attempts to live a life of simplicity and self-reliance in the woods of Massachusetts. His exploration of his two years and two months living in a cabin near Walden Pond is considered a seminal work of early American transcendentalism. Thoreau never explicitly reveals the spiritual truth at the end of his journey. Still, a discerning Christian reader can note the main transcendental themes and ideals that Thoreau demonstrates, separating that which should be applauded from that which should be rejected.
To begin with, Thoreau explores the idea behind what Nature’s role is in an individuals life. Just like the transcendentalists, they believed that nature acts a god, which is everything and nothing at the same time. In Walden, he takes this one step further by acknowledging that in order for one to be able to truly learn from Nature, one must live out in Nature itself away from society. In talking about his experience living out in the woods he said, “there can be no black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature”(Thoreau, 91). He relates Nature to having no such sadness that would disturb any individual. Just like Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was a transcendentalist wrote on his book Nature, “In the woods, we return...
In the fictional autobiography Walden and Resistance to Civil Government written By Henry David Thoreau makes it his spiritual mission to live among Nature for two years. Particularly, at the end of his stay at Walden pond, Thoreau uses particular language to convey his message that people should appreciate Nature and all that it does.
Someone once said “If you're the smartest one in the room, you're in the wrong room.” This quote refers to someone always knowing more or being better at something. Learning from their experiences can help expand your knowledge. The message portrayed is to always pursue to be better. Just like the message in Walden, Henry David Thoreau listens to others opinions except in this case the people are nature. He shows the importance of learning to appreciate the simple things in life and taking what you have learned and expanding on it. When Thoreau decides to leave the forest it is because he had learned all that there was to learn from living his lifestyle of simplicity in nature. In Walden, Henry David Thoreau shows the benefits of living in nature when he states that he feels closer to God, to nature, and learns just how much of the stuff of life is frittered away by detail and unnecessary busyness. He learns the best thing in life is to "Simplify, simplify" (Thoreau 73). Being alone with nature would allow one to become truly in check with them-self and to ponder what is truly important ...
Henry Thoreau’s relationship to nature underwent many changes throughout the course of his life. He especially made a much discussed shift from Emersonian Transcendentalism, to scientific data collection. Thoreau followed varied paths on his quest to understand the world in which he lived. As he grew older he managed to amass a huge collection of information about the plants and animals in the Concord region of Massachusetts. But his greatest contribution to the world is not his scientific research; rather it is the example of respect and thoughtfulness with which he approached nature. This individualistic and spiritual approach to nature differentiates him from modern day ecologists. Thoreau’s quest was to understand better and appreciate nature as a whole and the greater role it plays in connection to all things. Not only did he succeed in doing so, but he has also inspired his readers to question, observe, and appreciate the natural world. His thoughts on nature are recognized today as precursors of the conservation movement and also inspiration for the creation of national parks. Thoreau’s approach to nature varied throughout his life, but his purpose did not. His myriad approach to his work is exactly what brought about his success, and sets him apart from other nature writers and ecologists who share his quest.
Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts, and was the son of John Thoreau, a pencil maker, and Cynthia Dunbar (“Henry…” Ency. of World). Growing up in a “modest New England family,” Thoreau was one of four children and was accustomed to living practically (McElroy). As his family was “permanently poor,” he came to accept a moderate lifestyle, which may have later influenced his thoughts on the necessities of life (“Henry…” Ency. of World). As a child, he enjoyed exploring nature and was fascinated by its beauty. In his novel Walden, he remarks that “every morning was a cheerful invitation to make [his] life of equal simplicity… with Nature herself,” and even contemplates that “[he had] never yet met a man who was quite awake” (Thoreau 70, 72). Thoreau believed that the true purpose of living resided in nature, and this is present not only in his work but throughout his personal life.
Have you ever woke up in the morning and asked yourself, “Why am I living this life?” Throughout the book of Walden, Henry David Thoreau questions the lifestyles that people choose; he makes his readers wonder if they have chosen the kind of lifestyle that give them the greatest amount of happiness. Thoreau stated, “Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them().” This quote is important because most of society these days are so caught up in work and trying to make ends meet that they lose the values in life. Thoreau was forced to change his life when he found himself unhappy after a purchase for a farm fell through. On Thoreau’s journey he moves to Walden and builds a house and life from nothing but hard work, symbolizes many different objects.
From the lone hiker on the Appalachian Trail to the environmental lobby groups in Washington D.C., nature evokes strong feelings in each and every one of us. We often struggle with and are ultimately shaped by our relationship with nature. The relationship we forge with nature reflects our fundamental beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. The works of timeless authors, including Henry David Thoreau and Annie Dillard, are centered around their relationship to nature.
When thinking about the transcendental period and/or about individuals reaching out and submerging themselves in nature, Henry David Thoreau and his book, Walden, are the first things that come to mind. Unknown to many, there are plenty of people who have braved the environment and called it their home during the past twenty years, for example: Chris McCandless and Richard Proenneke. Before diving into who the “modern Thoreaus” are, one must venture back and explore the footprint created by Henry Thoreau.