In Walden, Henry D. Thoreau presented a radical and controversial perspective on society that was far beyond its time. In a period where growth both economically and territorially was seen as necessary for the development of a premature country, Thoreau felt the opposite. Thoreau was a man in search of growth within himself and was not concerned with outward improvements in him or society. In the chapter entitled "economy," he argued that people were too occupied with work to truly appreciate what life has to offer. He felt the root of this obsession with work was created through the misconstrued perception that material needs were a necessity, rather than a hindrance to true happiness and the full enjoyment of life. He felt that outside improvement can't bring inner peace and also working took all their available time. That is why he disapproved the idea of Industrial revolution as it provided work for the people.
Walden was written at the time of the Industrial revolution. The Industrial revolution created enormous opportunities for the people. Everyone had his or her own work, doing the exact same things day in and day out. As Thoreau stated, "He has no time to be anything but a machine"(3). He argued that excess possessions not only required excess labor to purchase them but also disturbed the people spiritually with worry and constraint. As people supposed that they need to own things, this need forces them to devote all their time to labor, and the result is the loss of touch with their inner selves and also nature. He believed that people did not know the true meaning of life. That was why Thoreau voluntarily went to live in Walden Pond for two years. He discovere...
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...ole concept of work, for it not only separated man from nature but also destroyed it. For instance, trains needed railroads to function. Trees were needed for the foundation of the tracks. Therefore, the cost of building these railroads and other technological improvements was the destruction of nature. Throughout the reading, it is evident that Thoreau is trying to portray to us that man is one with nature and that nature is the universal provider. However, at times he does seem to contradict himself, when he himself states that he gains satisfaction from working with his beans. All said and done, Thoreau still believed that people could do without excessive worldly possessions and just rely on nature.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Norton Anthology of American Literature. Shorter Fourth Edition. New York: W.W. Norton, 1995.
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