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Walden Essays

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❶For several decades, the area has been open to the public for swimming and fishing. In contrast to Thoreau's "manly simplicity", nearly twenty years after Thoreau's death Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau's endorsement of living alone in natural simplicity, apart from modern society, to be a mark of effeminacy, calling it "womanish solicitude; for there is something unmanly, something almost dastardly" about the lifestyle.

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Though he occasionally had visitors and often visited Concord, he basically lived alone for two years and two months, beginning on Independence Day, While there, he kept a journal as he had begun doing years before , recording his observations of the natural world, his criticisms of the society he had abandoned, and his speculations about the meaning of life.

Upon returning to the regular company of mankind, he developed this material into a book. To give his experience a coherent shape, he incorporated two years into one, so that the book could begin in the summer, descend into autumn and winter, and then emerge into spring, signifying the perpetual regeneration that was his dominant theme.

Like his mentor and fellow Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau believed that every man had to find his own way. All around him people were following courses that others had laid out for them and were consequently living lives of frustration rather than of fulfillment. Too often, people were enslaving themselves to the quest for material goods and allowing no time for pursuits of the spirit. His style and language amply embody his themes. He delves beneath the surface of words and makes cliches fresh.

His abstractions become concrete through parables and details of plant and animal life. He addresses the reader directly, not so much as a preacher but as an often wryly comic village raconteur. Although primarily a celebration of Thoreau, some essays question his solipsism and his debt to Emerson.

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. 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 the 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.

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, hares , red squirrels , mice, 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 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, 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.

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, long 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. Walden emphasizes the importance of solitude, contemplation, and closeness to nature in transcending the "desperate" existence that, he argues, is the lot of most people.

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. Some of the major themes that are present within the text are:. There has been much guessing as to why Thoreau went to the pond.

White stated on this note, "Henry went forth to battle when he took to the woods, and Walden is the report of a man torn by two powerful and opposing drives—the desire to enjoy the world and the urge to set the world straight", [6] while Leo Marx noted that Thoreau's stay at Walden Pond was an experiment based on his teacher Emerson 's "method of nature" and that it was a "report of an experiment in transcendental pastorialism ".

Likewise others have assumed Thoreau's intentions during his time at Walden Pond was "to conduct an experiment: Could he survive, possibly even thrive, by stripping away all superfluous luxuries, living a plain, simple life in radically reduced conditions?

Although Thoreau went to Walden to escape what he considered, "over-civilization", and in search of the "raw" and "savage delight" of the wilderness, he also spent considerable amounts of his time reading and writing. Thoreau spent nearly four times as long on the Walden manuscript as he actually spent at the cabin.

Upon leaving Walden Pond and at Emerson's request, Thoreau returned to Emerson's house and spent the majority of his time paying debts. During those years Thoreau slowly edited and drafted what were originally 18 essays describing his "experiment" in basic living.

After eight drafts over the course of ten years, Walden was published in After Walden ' s publication, Thoreau saw his time at Walden as nothing more than an experiment. He never took seriously "the idea that he could truly isolate himself from others".

Walden enjoyed some success upon its release, but still took five years to sell 2, copies, [16] and then went out of print until Thoreau's death in It is often assumed that critics initially ignored Walden , and that those who reviewed the book were evenly split or slightly more negative than positive in their assessment of it.

But researchers have shown that Walden actually was "more favorably and widely received by Thoreau's contemporaries than hitherto suspected. Positive comments included praise for Thoreau's independence, practicality, wisdom, "manly simplicity", [20] and fearlessness. Not surprisingly, less than three weeks after the book's publication, Thoreau's mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson proclaimed, "All American kind are delighted with Walden as far as they have dared to say.

On the other hand, the terms "quaint" or "eccentric" appeared in over half of the book's initial reviews. While valuing freedom from possessions, Thoreau was not communal in the sense of practicing sharing or of embracing community.

So, communism "is better than our hermit's method of getting rid of encumbrance. In contrast to Thoreau's "manly simplicity", nearly twenty years after Thoreau's death Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson judged Thoreau's endorsement of living alone in natural simplicity, apart from modern society, to be a mark of effeminacy, calling it "womanish solicitude; for there is something unmanly, something almost dastardly" about the lifestyle.

After all, for me, I prefer walking on two legs". Today, despite these criticisms, Walden stands as one of America's most celebrated works of literature. John Updike wrote of Walden , "A century and a half after its publication, Walden has become such a totem of the back-to-nature, preservationist, anti-business, civil-disobedience mindset, and Thoreau so vivid a protester, so perfect a crank and hermit saint, that the book risks being as revered and unread as the Bible.

Skinner wrote that he carried a copy of Walden with him in his youth, [29] and eventually wrote Walden Two in , a fictional utopia about 1, members who live together in a Thoreau-inspired community.

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- Oneness in Walden, Nature and American Scholar Some of the most prominent works which express a relationship between the individual and nature are undoubtedly Walden by Henry David Thoreau and the essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, specifically Nature and The American Scholar.

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Walden, in fullWalden; or, Life in the Woods, series of 18 essays by Henry David Thoreau, published in An important contribution to New England Transcendentalism, the book was a record of Thoreau’s experiment in simple living on the northern shore of Walden Pond in eastern Massachusetts (–47).

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For an overall pattern, he condensed the two years of his actual Walden experience into one fictional year, beginning and concluding with spring—the time of rebirth. The pace and tone of Walden are also . Walden by Henry David Thoreau Essay - Walden by Henry David Thoreau Walden, by Henry David Thoreau is written in first person about the events and ideas that came to the author during his time living at Walden Pond in the eighteen hundreds.

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Oneness in Walden, Nature and American Scholar Some of the most prominent works which express a relationship between the individual and nature are undoubtedly Walden by Henry David Thoreau and the essays written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, specifically Nature and The American Scholar. Walden literature essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Walden.