Thoreau's Natural Vacations Analytical Essay by RJ

Thoreau's Natural Vacations
Argues that even Henry David Thoreau, the great advocate of man's "natural" state, was able to stray only so far from the comforts of modern life.
# 55427 | 3,728 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2003 | US

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This paper analyzes the writings of Henry David Thoreau, such as "Civil Disobedience", "Walden", "Walking", and "Ktaadn". It compares his writings with his biographical history to raise the question of whether Thoreau actually "practiced what he preached". The paper concludes that, while Thoreau's philosophical thoughts are interesting, the evidence in his essays does not permit Thoreau to be seen as an example of man's ability to live in harmony with the natural world, but only as an example of the modern, fair-weather camper. While his writing is deeply meaningful on a philosophical level, on a practical one, it only reveals the struggle between the love of simplicity and the want of luxury.

From the Paper:

"Henry David Thoreau, regarded by many as the father of environmentalism, was indeed influential in championing the great interest in nature that led to later movements toward environmental protection. He was the first to notice that the country's trend toward an industrialist economy was having a damaging effect on the environment and to call his fellow citizens "back to nature" through his essays, the most influential being "Walden", documenting his experiences living in a small cabin on secluded Walden Pond. Through lists of items bought and sold, and accounts of the labor that went in to creating his refuge, Thoreau attempts to prove to readers that it is not difficult to live as a part of nature, instead of struggling against it, and that a man actually needs much less than one might think to survive. However, it is evident in Thoreau's work that while he undoubtedly believed all that he wrote, and was filled with a desire to go back to living in nature as his ancestors did, he was able to stray only so far from the comforts of the industrialist age. His life and works present a conflict of beliefs and practices, of his yearning for a simpler life and his inability to follow it to its end. In Thoreau there can be found a depiction of the struggle that continues today, namely the conflict between the desire for living purely and simply and the desire for modern comforts. Thoreau was not a man of nature, as his essays urge one to conclude, but a nature connoisseur, returning to it only as a brief respite from the bustle of everyday life."

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