Essay about Henry David Thoreau : Civil Disobedience

Essay about Henry David Thoreau : Civil Disobedience

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When thinking of Henry David Thoreau, the first thing that comes to mind is his award-winning book Walden or essay “Civil Disobedience”, both pinnacles of the transcendentalist philosophy of the time. In learning more about their author, however, it is important to look at his earlier works, more specifically, his poetry. Henry David Thoreau’s naturalistic poetry reflects his transcendentalistic ideology that arose from his close relationship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and his time spent immersing himself in nature.
Born in July of 1817, Henry David Thoreau began his life in poverty on the outskirts of Concord Village in Massachusetts. He attended a public school in Concord before moving to Harvard, where he graduated in 1837. After graduating, Thoreau attempted teaching, but soon found that he clashed with the Concord school system’s ideas on discipline and resigned after a mere two weeks. He then began to work with his brother, John Thoreau, to open their own school in Concord. However, John got sick in 1841, and Thoreau was forced to work for his father’s pencil-making business, “Thoreau’s Pencils” (Schneider). During this time, Thoreau was introduced to Transcendentalism by Ralph Waldo Emerson, a famous philosopher, writer, and Thoreau’s friend and mentor. Transcendentalist believed that there was a connection between nature and higher spirits; according to Roderick Nash, author of Wilderness and the American Mind, “natural objects assumed importance because, if rightly seen, they reflected universal spiritual truths” (Nash 85). In 1840, Emerson created The Dial, a journal aimed at promoting the transcendentalism to the public and give its followers a voice. The Dial was important to Thoreau’s development because it allowed ...


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...rtant for a writer to find a voice, and it was through poetry that Thoreau was able to find his. Thoreau’s close relationship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and his time spent immersing himself in nature were impetuses to his transcendentalist ideology that reflects in his naturalistic poetry. This connection can be seen in his poems “Friendship” and “Nature,” and through the events and timeline of his life, the majority of which he spent with Emerson and with nature. Thoreau’s most famous work, Walden, has sold millions of copies worldwide and only continues to grow in popularity, as the world reaches an era of environmental awareness and conservation (“Meet Thoreau”). He is considered the “intellectual inspiration for the conservation movement” and “among the greatest of all American writers” (“Meet Thoreau”), inspiring conservationists, writers, and philosophers alike.

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