Back to Nature in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Essay

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In Walden, Henry David Thoreau explains how a relationship with nature reveals aspects of the true self that remain hidden by the distractions of society and technology. To Thoreau, the burdens of nineteenth century existence, the cycles of exhausting work to obtain property, force society to exist as if it were "slumbering." Therefore, Thoreau urges his readers to seek a spiritual awakening. Through his rhetoric,Thoreau alludes to a "rebirth" of the self and a reconnection to the natural world. The text becomes a landscape and the images become objects, appealing to our pathos, or emotions, our ethos, or character, and our logos, or logical reasoning, because we experience his awakening. Thoreau grounds his spirituality in the physical …show more content…
Thoreau's main concern is that the accumulation of wealth, and the desire to obtain it, distracts humans from recognizing their true essence, which is spirituality. In the chapter "Economy," he urges us to learn to live life by ourselves, without the pressures of monetary consumption, and reevaluate ourselves in order to obtain its true necessities. He states, "It would be some advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst of an outward civilization, if only to learn what the gross necessaries of life are and what methods have been taken to obtain them" (9). Thoreau reduces the necessaries of life to four things: food, shelter, clothing, and fuel. Anything beyond these four necessities serves as a wall dividing physical from spiritual realities.

In agreement with Thoreau, an anonymous author explains how human existence separates from its essence due to a preoccupation with financial prosperity. In the National Anti-Slavery Standard, an obscure anti-slavery newspaper from 1854, the author states, "The life exhibited... teaches us that this Western activity of which we are so proud, these material improvements, this commercial enterprise, this rapid accumulation of wealth, are very easily overrated" (8). Thoreau understands the harmful effects of modernization and relinquishes his responsibility to society in order to discover his connection with the natural world, and shows us how to achieve the same through his
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