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Henry David Thoreau

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An Analysis of Henry David Thoreau and �Walden’

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts, on July 12, 1817.

He was born to parents that were very intelligent, yet poor and

undistinguished. Despite their struggle with poverty, "their home was a center of

affection and vivacity." Thoreau was the third of four children and he showed an

early love of nature and was the "scholar" of the family, going on to learn many

languages. Because Henry showed so much promise as a student that his parents

sent him to Concord Academy. He later went on to attend Harvard College.

With the help of his aunts, and by doing odd jobs and tutoring, he managed to

afford the tuition. Interestingly enough, he graduated from Harvard in 1837 as

an honor student and a speaker at commencement, yet he was still unknown.

He lived a "stern and more than Spartan simplistic [way] of life and he

retained his elevation of purpose" (Walden, 67). This elevation of purpose

directly refers to the transcendentalist movement in which Thoreau was a pioneer.

The elevation of purpose is the ascension of character, becoming a "perfect"

person. All of this is an account of how Thoreau achieved perfection in his life

and literally reconciled his relationship with the universe and God.

Thoreau's enlightenment was illustrated when he "stood in the very abutment of a

rainbow's arch, which filled the lower stratum of the atmosphere and dazzling

[him] as if [he] looked through colored crystal. It was like a lake of rainbow

light. [He used to wonder at the halo of light around [his] shadow" (Walden,

138). It is clear that the near blinding light and the ethereal image of purity

and beauty that Thoreau experienced represents his admittance as an

intellectual and spiritual demi-god.

"Walden," or "Life in the Woods," was written during Henry David Thoreau’s

stay at Walden Pond, an excursion that lasted over two years. It was here that

Thoreau conducted his experiment with life. I went to the woods because I

wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see

if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die,

discover that I had not lived. (Thoreau 835) Walden, or Life in the Woods is a

well-known book admired for its meaning. What was so enticing about this story was

understanding its development. "When I wrote the following pages, or rather

the bulk of them, I lived alone, in the woods, a mile from any neighbor, in a

house which I had built myself, on the shore of Walden Pond, in Concord,

Massachusetts, and earned my living by the labor of my hands only. I lived there

two years and two months." (788"799) These words began Thoreau’s story of his

experiment of simple living at Walden Pond, a sixty-two acre body of water in

Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau chose to build a cabin on land belonging to

his close friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. On this land, Thoreau wrote a series of

eighteen essays and journals, "describing Thoreau’s idealistic creed as

affected by and expressed in his life at the Pond." (Hart 797-798). Most of what

Thoreau writes about is based on his first year living by the pond. Things

such as his night in jail, trip to Mount Katahdin, and scientific studies of the

second year he only touches upon. Each day Thoreau would come up with new

thoughts and feelings. He used his mind and listened to his heart to write

Walden, therefore every word meant something. Thoreau was very strong in his

believing that we should live for ourselves. He believes that we should do things

our way rather than copy our parents or anyone else. "I desire that there may

be as many different persons in the world as possible" (Thoreau 825).

Thoreau influences the reader to choose his or her own personal desires rather than

those imposed on us by society. He believes that we should worry more about

doing what is right for ourselves, so that we can live for ourselves. "Every

morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I

may say innocence, with Nature herself" (834). Through Walden, Thoreau

describes his own experience in living a simple life. Thoreau is careful not to

recommend his specific way of living to the readers. He merely suggests his simple

living as his own enlightenment. He says to his readers "I would not have

any one adopt my mode of living on any account,"(841). Even though Walden does

make life seem more understandable, it was not written as a guideline.

"Walden is a book written very

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