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Henry david thoreau why i went to the woods

Plot[ edit ] 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.

I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Readers are reminded that at the time of publication, Thoreau is back to living among the civilized again. The book is separated into specific chapters, each of which focuses on specific themes: In this first and longest chapter, Thoreau outlines his project: He easily supplies the four necessities of life food, shelter, clothing, and fuel with the help of family and friends, particularly his mother, his best friend, and Mr.

The latter provided Thoreau with a work exchange -— he could build a small house and plant a garden if he cleared some land on the woodlot and did other chores while there.

The poem criticizes those who think that their poverty gives them unearned moral and intellectual superiority. Much attention is devoted to the skepticism and wonderment with which townspeople greeted both him and his project as he tries to protect henry david thoreau why i went to the woods views from those of the townspeople who seem to view society as the only place to live.

  1. Readers are reminded that at the time of publication, Thoreau is back to living among the civilized again. Though he realizes its significance and importance, he thinks it unnecessary to always be in search for it.
  2. Protagonist Sam Gribley is nicknamed "Thoreau" by an English teacher he befriends. Instead of going to Fitchburg, you will be working here the greater part of the day.
  3. The Finnish symphonic metal band Nightwish makes several references to Walden on their eighth studio album Endless Forms Most Beautiful of 2015, including in the song titled "My Walden". Men have an indistinct notion that if they keep up this activity of joint stocks and spades long enough all at length will ride somewhere, in next to no time, and for nothing; but though a crowd rushes to the depot, and the conductor shouts "All aboard!

He recounts the reasons for his move to Walden Pond along with detailed steps back to the construction of his new home methods, support, etc. Thoreau recollects thoughts of places he stayed at before selecting Walden Pond, and quotes Roman Philosopher Cato 's advice "consider buying a farm very carefully before signing the papers. Thoreau takes to the woods dreaming of an existence free of obligations and full of leisure.

He announces that he resides far from social relationships that mail represents post office and the majority of the chapter focuses on his thoughts while constructing and living in his new home at Walden. Thoreau discusses the benefits of classical literaturepreferably in the original Greek or Latinand bemoans the lack of sophistication in Concord evident in the popularity of unsophisticated literature.

He also loved to read books by world travelers.

  • Thoreau meditates on the pleasures of escaping society and the petty things that society entails gossip, fights, etc;
  • Could he survive, possibly even thrive, by stripping away all superfluous luxuries, living a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions?
  • As if a town had no interest in its forests but to cut them down!
  • They love the soil which makes their graves, but have no sympathy with the spirit which may still animate their clay.

Thoreau encourages the reader to be "forever on the alert" and "looking always at what is to be seen. In addition to self-development, an advantage of developing one's perceptiveness is its tendency to alleviate boredom.

Rather than "look abroad for amusement, to society and the theatre", Thoreau's own life, including supposedly dull pastimes like housework, becomes a source of amusement that "never ceases to be novel. Thoreau reflects on the feeling of solitude. He explains how loneliness can occur even amid companions if one's heart is not open to them. Thoreau meditates on the pleasures of escaping society and the petty things that society entails gossip, fights, etc.

He also reflects on his new companion, an old settler who arrives nearby and an old woman with great memory "memory runs back farther than mythology". Thoreau talks about how he enjoys companionship despite his love for solitude and always leaves three chairs ready for visitors.

Henry David Thoreau – “Why I Went to the Woods” Essay

The entire chapter focuses on the coming and going of visitors, and how he has more comers in Walden than he did in the city. Thoreau then reflects on the women and children who seem to enjoy the pond more than men, and how men are limited because their lives are taken up. He touches upon the joys of his environment, the sights and sounds of nature, but also on the military sounds nearby.

The rest of the chapter focuses on his earnings and his cultivation of crops including how he spends just under fifteen dollars on this. The chapter focuses on Thoreau's second bath and on his reflections on the journeys he takes several times a week to Concord, where he gathers the latest gossip and meets with townsmen.

On one of his journeys into Concord, Thoreau is detained and jailed for his refusal to pay a poll tax to the "state that buys and sells men, women, and children, like cattle at the door of its senate-house". In autumn, Thoreau discusses the countryside and writes down his observations about the geography of Walden Pond and its neighbors: Although Flint's is henry david thoreau why i went to the woods largest, Thoreau's favorites are Walden and White ponds, which he describes as lovelier than diamonds.

While on an afternoon ramble in the woods, Thoreau gets caught in a rainstorm and takes shelter in the dirty, dismal hut of John Field, a penniless but hard-working Irish farmhand, and his wife and children. Thoreau urges Field to live a simple but independent and fulfilling life in the woods, thereby freeing himself of employers and creditors.

But the Irishman won't give up his aspirations of luxury and the quest for the American dream. Thoreau discusses whether hunting wild animals and eating meat is necessary.

He concludes that the primitive, carnal sensuality of humans drives them to kill and eat animals, and that a person who transcends this propensity is superior to those who cannot.

Thoreau eats fish and occasionally salt pork and woodchuck. He also recognizes that Native Americans need to hunt and kill moose for survival in "The Maine Woods", and eats moose on a trip to Maine while he was living at Walden. One must love that of the wild just as much as one loves that of the good. What men already know instinctively is true humanity.

The hunter is the greatest friend of the animal which is hunted. No human older than an adolescent would wantonly murder any creature which reveres its own life as much as the killer. If the day and the night make one joyful, one is successful. The highest form of self-restraint is when one can subsist not on other animals, but of plants and crops cultivated from the earth.

The conversation is about a hermit himself and a poet Channing and how the poet is absorbed in the clouds while the hermit is occupied with the more practical task of getting fish for dinner and how in the end, the poet regrets his failure to catch fish. The chapter also mentions Thoreau's interaction with a mouse that he lives with, the scene in which an ant battles a smaller ant, and his frequent encounters with cats.

After picking November berries in the woods, Thoreau adds a chimney, and finally plasters the walls of his sturdy house to stave off the cold of the oncoming winter. He also lays in a good supply of firewood, and expresses affection for wood and fire. Former Inhabitants; and Winter Visitors: Thoreau relates the stories of people who formerly lived in the vicinity of Walden Pond. Then he talks about a few of the visitors he receives during the winter: Thoreau amuses himself by watching wildlife during the winter.

He relates his observations of owls, haresred squirrelsmice, and various birds as they hunt, sing, and eat the scraps and corn he put out for them.

He also describes a fox hunt that passes by. The Pond in Winter: Thoreau describes Walden Pond as it appears during the winter. He says he has sounded its depths and located an underground outlet. Then he recounts how 100 laborers came to cut great blocks of ice from the pond, the ice to be shipped to the Carolinas.

As spring arrives, Walden and the other ponds melt with powerful thundering and rumbling. Thoreau enjoys watching the thaw, and grows ecstatic as he witnesses the green rebirth of nature. He watches the geese winging their way north, and a hawk playing by itself in the sky.

As nature is reborn, the narrator implies, so is he. He departs Walden on September 6, 1847. This final chapter is more passionate and urgent than its predecessors. In it, he criticizes conformity: Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away",[ citation needed ] By doing so, men may find happiness and self-fulfillment. I do not say that John or Jonathan will realize all this; but such is the character of that morrow which mere lapse of time can never make to dawn.

The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. August 2016 Memorial with a replica of Thoreau's cabin near Walden The site of Thoreau's cabin marked by a cairn in 1908 Walden is a difficult book to read for three reasons: First, it was written in an older prose, which uses surgically precise language, extended, allegorical metaphors, henry david thoreau why i went to the woods and complex paragraphs and sentences, and vivid, detailed, and insightful descriptions.

Thoreau does not hesitate to use metaphors, allusions, understatement, hyperbole, personification, irony, satire, metonymy, synecdoche, and oxymorons, and he can shift from a scientific to a transcendental point of view in mid-sentence. Second, its logic is based on a different understanding of life, quite contrary to what most people would call common sense. Ironically, this logic is based on what most people say they believe.

Thoreau, recognizing this, fills Walden with sarcasm, paradoxes, and double entendres. He likes to tease, challenge, and even fool his readers. And third, quite often any words would be inadequate at expressing many of Thoreau's non-verbal insights into truth.

Thoreau must use non-literal language to express these notions, and the reader must reach out to understand. The book is not a traditional autobiography, but combines autobiography with a social critique of contemporary Western culture's consumerist and materialist attitudes and its distance from and destruction of nature.

There are signs of ambiguity, or an attempt to see an alternative side of something common.

Excerpt from Walden – Henry David Thoreau

Some of the major themes that are present within the text are: Thoreau constantly refuses to be in "need" of the companionship of others. Though he realizes its significance and importance, he thinks it unnecessary to always be in search for it.

Self-reliance, to him, is economic and social and is a principle that in terms of financial and interpersonal relations is more valuable than anything. To Thoreau, self-reliance can be both spiritual as well as economic. Connection to transcendentalism and to Emerson's essay. Simplicity seems to be Thoreau's model for life. Throughout the book, Thoreau constantly seeks to simplify his lifestyle: In a world where everyone and everything is eager to advance in terms of progress, Thoreau finds it stubborn and skeptical to think that any outward improvement of life can bring inner peace and contentment.

The need for spiritual awakening: Spiritual awakening is the way to find and realize the truths of life which are often buried under the mounds of daily affairs. Thoreau holds the spiritual awakening to be a quintessential component of life. It is the source from which all of the other themes flow. Man as part of nature Nature and its reflection of human emotions The state as unjust and corrupt Meditation: