Transcendentalism: Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau grew up in poverty; his dad was unsuccessful and had trouble maintaining a steady job. Thoreau followed in his father’s footsteps, ultimately bouncing from job to job, scorned by society for his unconventional way of living and lack of income (Henry David Thoreau, Discovering Biography). Thoreau began to write with the guidance of Ralph Waldo Emerson who became one of the most important influences in his life. Living with Emerson gave Thoreau insight and inspiration on how to write, and eventually led him to write Walden (Henry David Thoreau, Discovering Biography). Walden was also inspired by Transcendentalism, a literary movement that challenged the use and need for material objects and religious evidence. Transcendentalism provided Thoreau with a different view on humanity and religion. Thoreau wrote Walden to document his years spent living at Walden Pond and to express his ideas on the simplicity and individual nature of humanity.
Walden is a series of loosely strung together essays that chronicle Thoreau’s experience of living on Walden Pond in Concord. Thoreau condenses his work into one year, capturing all four seasons on the pond. Thoreau wrote Walden with the intent to use his experience of living on Walden Pond as a way to convey his ideas on humanity. He believed that in order for humanity to be truly satisfied with life, expectations must be lowered from what people want to what people actually need (Swirski). To prove this point, Thoreau wrote about how he established his home by building a cabin for himself and farming to generate income. Frequently, Thoreau refers to the unimportance of material things. He believed that he had a certai...

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...t I had not lived” (‘Thoreau, Henry David”). Walden was a journey for Thoreau to discover what life really was and to become unified with nature and God.

Works Cited
Robinson, David M. "Transcendentalism." American History Through Literature 1820-1870. Eds. Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer. Vol. 3. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006. 1171-1180. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.
Swirski, Peter. "Walden Two." Masterplots, Fourth Edition (2010): 1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.
"Thoreau, Henry David (1817-1862)." Discovering Biography. Online ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Discovering Collection. Web. 13 Nov. 2013.
"Thoreau, Henry David." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Ed. William A. Darity, Jr. 2nd ed. Vol. 8. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2008. 357. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
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