Critical Essays On Thoreau Walden
People in developed countries across the globe approximate Thoreau's experience -- during vacations and holidays, while engaged in outdoor sports (fishing, though perhaps not hunting), in campgrounds and recreational vehicles (RVs and trailers), and when siting and purchasing rustic second homes.Contemporary attempts to align with Thoreau's admonishment to simplify are achieved only after considerable expense and the travails of travel.It is bolstered by Western thought that individualism, self-determinism, and critical thought enable people to take the high road.The Western notion of rugged individualism was underscored by this experiment in living that Thoreau set out for himself in the forested outskirts of the village of Concord in Massachusetts.Walden is the product of the two years and two months Thoreau lived in semi-isolation by Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts.He built a small cabin on land owned by his friend Ralph Waldo Emerson and was almost totally self-sufficient, growing his own vegetables and doing odd jobs.Thoreau had little difficulty making these connections in his quotidian life. His ability to observe was doubtless facilitated by his liberty to follow his own inclinations and establish his own schedule of attending to tasks -- and determining if tasks did, in fact, need his attention.
Thoreau is like many other artists and writers who seek environments that enable their creativity and independence of thought.The strength of Thoreau's position -- temporarily liberated from the constraints of a society preoccupied with industry and achievement -- is made salient through his new capacity to observe benevolently that which he has customarily condemned.In the Walden chapter "Sounds," Thoreau comments on the rustles and calls and noises of nature, and with approval that seems slightly out of can't, the whistles and track racket of the Fitchburg Railroad train which is chugging along the edge of Walden Pond.It was his intention at Walden Pond to live simply and have time to contemplate, walk in the woods, write, and commune with nature.As he explained, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.” The resulting book is a series of essays, or meditations, beginning with “Economy,” in which he discussed his experiment and included a detailed account of the construction (and cost) of his cabin.It was worth the while to see the sun shine on these things, and hear the free wind blow on them; so much more interesting most familiar objects look out of doors than in the house.(Thoreau 1894, 2004) From this quotation, the reader is given insight into Thoreau's ability to separate himself from his possessions with what seems to be religious clarity.And with this comes opportunity to develop deeper spiritualism.When he built the cabin by Walden Pond, Thoreau was 27 years old, a Harvard graduate ranking 19th in his class, and had not found a niche in which he experienced either a sense of belonging nor success -- as defined by society at large.The idealism of the time provided the foundation for Thoreau to describe himself as "a mystic, a transcendentalist, and a natural philosopher to boot" in addition to being a self-described autobiographer.Thoreau's journal observations came to about two million words that describe with subtlety and refinement his solo experiences in nature, chronicling moments when he was overcome with awe and wonder.