Henry David Thoreau and Chris McCandless, although both very similar, are thought of in very contrasting ways. While one is praised for his expert ideas and philosophical novels, the other is ridiculed for his impulsivity and stubbornness. Henry David Thoreau, a poet, journalist, and environmentalist, was dissatisfied by the way people threw away their lives by focusing on irrelevant details. By going to the woods, he wished to find himself and free himself from a superficial life, while living only for the essentialities of life. Chris McCandless, although also diving into the wilderness for self exploration, had other less philosophical reasonings for his endeavours. He was not only impulsive and stubborn, but he also had an overpowering sense of adventure that lead him to do many life-threatening things. Both people differed on many moral stand points, but at times their motivations came together with similarities. In the books Into the Wild and Walden, a point of comparison is Thoreau and McCandless' belief in self reliance, a point of contrast is Thoreau's belief that in order to live his fullest life, he could only live by what was strictly essential, while McCandless believed that in order to live his fullest life he had to be able to live for himself rather than others, and the last point of comparison is both of their desires to rid themselves of materialistic and superficial things to simplify their lives.
Henry David Thoreau heavily believed in the idea of self
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Both Henry David Thoreau and Christopher McCandless ventured out into the woods to get away from the dreariness of everyday society and to find themselves. Only one lived to tell the tale. What was the fatal flaw of the man who didn’t continue on? The only way to find this is to analyze the differences and similarities between the two. McCandless, while embracing some of the same values as Thoreau, was ultimately a different man. While they led very contrasting lives in very distant times, both McCandless and Thoreau sought a type of freedom that can only be achieved when immersed in nature. Thoreau’s entitlement and cozy cabin in the woods is a far cry from McCandless’s constant struggle during his expedition, however, certain parallels
Self-reliance is the freedom of being independent. One only relies on oneself and doesn’t look for help or for anyone to save them. One is perfectly content with being solely reliant. Three people who believed greatly in self-reliance were Chris McCandless, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau. They had many different beliefs and along with acting out in civil disobedience, acting in nonconformity, thinking nature was most important, and being a transcendentalist, they was also self reliant. McCandless, Emerson, and Thoreau were all people who believed strongly in self-reliance.
Henry David Thoreau was a great American writer, philosopher, and naturalist of the 1800’s who’s writings have influenced many famous leaders in the 20th century, as well as in his own lifetime. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, where he was later educated at Harvard University. Thoreau was a transcendentalist writer, which means that he believed that intuition and the individual conscience “transcend” experience and are better guides to truth than are the senses and logical reason (Prentice Hall 1174). Thoreau is well known for writing Walden Pond, Excursions, The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, and A Yankee in Canada. In 1849 Henry David Thoreau wrote an essay
Thoreau and McCandless are people who are very similar and different at the same time. The thing is people can’t be completely the same even if they tried to. You can’t think the same thoughts at the same time, people are bound to have differences. People are always growing and changing even if it is in the smallest way. This makes it impossible to be exactly the same as other people. Of course the same is true for the other side too. You can’t be a completely different person either. People are also bound to have similarities. We are all humans so that’s a similarity. But do similarities and differences matter? In the end we know that Thoreau and McCandless have many similarities and differences, here are three examples of them; Thoreau and McCandless are both determined and hard-working people, McCandless went to the forest to run away from his family problems while Thoreau went to the forest to live by himself, and they both hate materialism.
In Henry Thoreau 's Walden Thoreau spent two years away from society living in a cabin in the woods with only the necessities. He was surrounded by farmers and would occasionally go into town. Thoreau was a transcendentalist that tried to find answers to life’s questions through nature. He challenged the regular way society would live and found that his way was a rewarding way of living.He compared the way that the farmers around him to how he was able to live and compared the difference of the two ways to live. Thoreau valued freethought, importance of nature, and self-reliance, Henry David Thoreau lived as an individual who did not need materialism.
Similar to Thoreau, McCandless does not associate being in solitude to being lonesome. Throughout his journey, McCandless avoids forming close bonds with others because it distracts him from his final goal of independence and transcendentalism. This lack of intimate relationships frees McCandless as seen through the journal entry he wrote before walking into the Alaskan Bush. He writes proudly that for two years he has roamed with no company and no comforts. He calls it, “Ultimate freedom” (Krakauer 163). The fact that he considers it more of a freedom than a loss to live in solidarity shows that like Thoreau, McCandless does not feel lonely when he is alone. According to his sister, Carine, even when he was younger, he was fine with being alone. She said that although he had friends, he could easily entertain himself and never seemed lonely when he was alone. Another instance in which McCandless’s dissociation of solitude and loneliness shows is in a letter he writes to Ron Franz, a man he met near Salton City. In this letter, he tells Franz to step outside his comfort zone and live a more adventurous life. Towards the end of the letter, he states, “You are wrong if you think Joy emanates only or principally from human relationships,” (Krakauer 57). This approach is how he is not lonely in solitude; he is capable of finding joy in things other than human contact.
In society, people tend to follow the people's footsteps and apply new characteristic or methods that they obtain from there person. In the story, Into the Wild, Chris McCandless was a boy who favors several literacy heroes. He was able to understand each hero and apply there knowledge that they obtain from other people. He was favoriting Henry David Thoreau, Jack London, Leo Tolstoy and much more. Henry David Thoreau was an American poet and an essayist and wrote numerous books based on his philosophy. However, in the book, he plays a crucial role in giving Chris McCandless life lesson throughout his journey. Jack London is a worldwide celebrity and a famous novelist and journalist. He also has some characteristics that Chris has also obtained from him. In addition, Leo Tolstoy was one of the greatest Russian authors of all times. He has inspired Chris with some of his quotes which reflects him during his journey. There are more heroes that Chris mentions in the story but these are three which he tends to reflect more on.
It’s the end of the school day. I finally breathe and release myself of the stress and the frustration of a normal school day. I sit on the benches outside and wait for my ride. With technology gone and no people to talk to, I just sit still. The evergreen trees gently move in some of the final gusts of the summer breeze. And as I’m looking at life’s beauty and as thoughts swim through my brain, I become frightened. Because, I have never thought of life, as a whole, so profoundly. It transforms into satisfaction. Without distractions, I sit with my thoughts and world’s alluring nature. As I relive this moment in my mind, I can’t help but think of Henry David Thoreau. How he just sometimes sat and took in everything, and absorbed everything
Chris McCandless is not a modern day Thoreau in many ways. Chris went out in the wild unprepared and not knowing what he was doing, he didn’t have plan. McCandless never showed a true purpose or reason for his doing, while Thoreau had clear and understandable reasoning. Thoreau was writer who spent his time alone enjoying nature focusing on the pieces he was writing. He also did this as way of protest. McCandless was a smart young man who was trying to run away from his problems with his family at home. He did this by changing his name and running off to Alaska where no one knew who he really was. He wanted a new start.
￼The arguably most apparent aspect in which the personalities of Chris McCandless and Henry David Thoreau truly paralleled one another can be quite blatantly seen within their shared initial and over-arching motivation supporting their unified desire to journey into the wild: The burning need to escape materialism as a whole, as well as constantly progressing technology, both of which were, and still are, prominent in every area of society. This core incentive is very evidently described in the line, scribed within Walden, “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life” (Thoreau 59). He then expands upon this belief, and provides support for his naturalistic intentions, with the following statement: “I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life... to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms” (Thoreau 59). Thoreau passionately felt that civilization as a whole had become entirely over-dependent upon a chaotic mess of irrelevant details, the majority of which everyone had begun to mistakenly perceive as necessities, to the point where he finally announced the complete control he felt technology had over society through the phrase, “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us” (Thoreau 60). Each of these meaningless affairs, he said, revolved solely around the very concepts from which he was determined to find refuge
“Wilderness appealed to those bored or disgusted with man and his works” (Roderick Nash). Chris McCandless, a modern transcendentalist, sent out on an adventure to find his true self in the wilderness of the North American continent. In the two years he was away, he met many individuals he called his friends and explored the extent of the American West. However, Chris was found dead in an abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail in the deep wilderness of Alaska in early September 1992. Chris believed he could live his life without the disruption of others. Henry David Thoreau believed that individuals can strive for themselves without government interruption. Chris McCandless, in Jon Krakauer’s documentary Into the Wild, believes that living off the land and life to its fullest without help from others compares to Henry David Thoreau’s beliefs in his writing “Civil Disobedience.”
Their passion for their love of nature was also influenced by numerous authors read by each man that depicted an ideology of naturalistic prose characterizing the transcendental experience. Authors stated as favorites by both men include Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jack London. While these writers provided an appealing view of a carefree life, not one of them truly experienced the hardships of their stories. Thoreau’s depiction of his experiment of transcendentalism in his book, Walden, romanticizes the natural world even though his excursion was just a few miles from his family and the local community. One aspect of Thoreau’s definition of this solitary life was to embrace nature and live off the land, using wit and resourcefulness (Thoreau). “Thoreau As An Oblique Mirror” by Jose Sanchez Vera, provides a perspective that suggests Krakauer uses pieces of Thoreau’s ideals in order to embellish Chris’s endeavor (49). The promise of a simpler life has a tendency to make anyone long for tranquility. But, McCandless and Krakauer appeared to take their personal introspection to extremes, without regard of the hazards and possible doom that lay before them (Krakauer
Thoreau left society and went into the woods because he wanted to live life to the fullest and learn what life had to teach him, while Chris wanted to leave his problems at home. Thoreau was living in solitude in the woods. He liked living in solitude because he didn’t have to change his way of life to make others happy. He was also able to do his own work and did not have to worry about other people. Thoreau was not lonely in the woods because he was connected to nature like a flower is. He wanted to learn everything that the world had to offer by living with simplicity and focusing on his “needs” instead of his “wants”. We know this because Thoreau said, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” Thoreau went towards solitude and fully
A significant philosopher of the pre-Civil War era of the United States, Henry David Thoreau appeared to be above the standard with his philosophically driven life style. He wrote detailed accounts of his life in his book titled Walden, in which he expressed his desire to escape the confining pressures of human society. His second chapter lauded the concepts of individualism and self-sufficiency, yet he never took into account the potential harm of his mentality, for it could hurt individuals as well as communities, and modern life simply cannot support his ideals.