The philosophical and religious movement of Transcendentalism was created during the early 1800’s. People who consider themselves Transcendentalists are dedicated to the ideas and ways that society’s government and controlled religion will destroy the self. They believe in the self and the pureness of the individual. They also had an understanding that all people held a piece of God inside of them; belief that God is one being and all people are combined into one God. Henry David Thoreau is considered one of the well-known Transcendentalists of his time. In Walden and Civil Disobedience there is proof that provides insight into Thoreau’s life and why he was chosen to be one.
In Chapter 1, Economy, Thoreau says, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation” (Economy 7). Many men live in solitude. When the book was written in the late 1850’s, life was a giant economic disaster. Men were killing themselves and some felt the need for isolation. They worried about what will happen to the money they invested in and the homes they live in. Thoreau at the time was living in the woods and had known what most men were feeling at the time. He wanted to know what it was like to live alone and the fact he built himself a shack in the woods is enough evidence to prove that men lead lives of quiet desperation. They live in fear of what could happen tomorrow and he knew that by going into the woods and isolating himself he will be away from the hysteria and problems of the economic life.
In the following Chapter, What I Lived For, Walden expresses his understanding that when you live the normal life, the life of the common man; money, agriculture, relationships; Man becomes blind to what...
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...hing and everyone. He believed that because it is not natural and God-made that there will never be a free state of living and that because of the Democracy which is still around today people will never know a life of peace and will never learn what it is like to feel free. “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison” (Civil Disobedience 285).
The evidence is overwhelming: Thoreau is proven to be a Transcendentalist by his writings in Walden and Civil Disobedience. He has shown that living a free life is a way to experience isolation and to feel free of Democratic ruling. God is there and will show you “who you are inside”. Sometimes people cannot define who they are until they experience life changing instances; through nature itself. Life in the material world is nothing compared to a life after the material.
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