The life and works of Henry David Thoreau and Frederick Douglass’ has had a lasting impact in the literary field since there work is studied now in most colleges. Although, the writers travelled in the same circle and were both friends of Ralph Waldo Emerson the pair were not friends. In looking at the life and works of the two dynamic literary giants analyzing their common goals, work, and their place in Transcendentalist history will bring more understanding of these authors.
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
Henry David Thoreau’s words that “disobedience is the true foundation of liberty” and that “the obedient must be slaves” is a political statement that never lost its topicality during the Romantic era. Thoreau is an important contributor to the philosophical and American literary movement known as New England Transcendentalism. Nature and the conduct of life are two central themes that are often weaved together in his essays and books that were published in the Romantic era of literature. Thoreau brought these two themes together to write on how people ought to live a simplistic life. His naturalistic writing intertwined cataloging and observation with Transcendentalist views of nature. Through his life and his work, Henry David Thoreau has contributed to American Literature since the Romantic era.
Henry David Thoreau was born during a time when social injustices were being carried out by society. As a transcendentalist who was theological, he strongly emphasized individual values and believed laws should only be followed if it was morally justified. If a law was immoral, he thought that the iniquities around revolving around the law should be addressed publically through literature and non-violent protests. Furthermore, upon Thoreau’s incarceration for his civil disobedience, he published a book called, Civil Disobedience that served to enlighten people about the importance
What Kind of person does Henry David Thoreau seem to be? How would you characterize his state of mind and emotion as he composed “Civil Disobedience”?
Thoreau believed that individual integrity had the ability to triumph the government. Thoreau went to jail because he refused to pay his poll taxes for the past six years. Also, he protested against the Mexican war, and slavery, which also contributed to him going to jail and his views on the government. During his short period in jail he clarified that he did not dread it, and portrayed it as “Traveling into a far country” (964).
The night in prison, he recounts, was "novel and interesting enough." His roommate had been accused of burning down a barn, though Thoreau speculated that the man had fallen asleep drunk in the barn while smoking a pipe. Thoreau was let in on the gossip and history of the jail and was shown several verses that were composed in the jail. The workings of the jail fascinated him, and staying in jail that night was like traveling in another country. He felt as if he was seeing his town through the light of the middle ages--as if he had never heard the sounds of his town before.
In the play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by authors Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, we see Henry David Thoreau locked in jail because of his unyielding will to not conform to the government or society's expectations, when their expectations are unwholesome. During his time spent in jail we see the idea of transcendentalism develop through Henry’s belief that even though he’s is locked up he is more free than any freeman could ever hope to be. Just as it was relevant in Thoreau's lifetime, freeing yourself from society’s norms /freedom from the government, transcending yourself, and being individualistic are all still important now.
Thoreau wrote that people must be willing to go to jail if they want to change a law by disobeying the law. Thoreau went to jail instead of paying for his taxes because he believed the government used the money for unjust things. This is how Henry Thoreau thinks people can change unjust laws. He thought that if people willingly would to go to jail and quit their jobs, then the revolution will take a place and reform will come. Thoreau was willing to go to jail to change unjust laws because of his conscience.
Thoreau pleads to his reader’s feelings by talking about what he regards as demeaning to the American people, especially the Government’s prisoners. Thoreau then talks about the men who work for the government, which he describes the men as being
In Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Civil Disobedience, a problem is presented in the way in which we live our lives. Thoreau sees this problem and goes to Walden Pond to find the solution. Yet his solution is controversial in that it seems to propose actions that go against human nature. Thoreau's prescription for American desperation cannot be accepted by the masses for it is rooted in anti-socialism when humans are essentially social in nature. However, this conclusion is not entirely accurate, as one needs to explore Thoreau's entire solution and the intent of what he is saying in this work.
Henry David Thoreau was an American writer and protester, who wrote the influential essay “Civil Disobedience”. In his essay, he advocates for citizens to protest against government actions that they deem unjust and to stand up for one’s rights, putting morals before law,
For Thoreau, the escape from society was a way to deeply learn about himself and human nature. He writes, “Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself” (Thoreau 72). This simple way of life allowed Thoreau to analyze himself and tendencies within society. He explains the effects of this solitary life on a person: “In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness” (253). Thoreau was able to discover flaws in society. He states, “... men establish and conform their daily life of routine and habit every where, which still is built on purely illusory foundations” (78). Unlike Hester and Sethe, the societal norms Thoreau experiences are not painful punishments or dehumanizing treatment. However, the “opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe … through poetry, philosophy and religion” (80), can still have a profound and often negative effect on individuals and society as a whole. Thoreau is able to overcome these societal norms because he separates himself from them. Thoreau explains of humankind, “When we are unhurried and wise, we perceive that only great and worthy things have any permanent and absolute existence,-that petty fears and petty pleasures are but the
The chapter entitled “Conclusion” is a fitting and compelling final chapter to Thoreau’s Walden. Throughout Walden, Thoreau delves into his surroundings, the very specifics of nature, and what he was thinking about, without employing any metaphors and including none of his poignant aphorisms. However, placed among these at-times tedious sections, come spectacular and wholly enjoyable interludes of great and profound thought from a writer that has become extremely popular in modern America. His growth of popularity over such contemporary favorites as Emerson in our modern era stems from the fact that Thoreau calls for an “ideological revolution to simplification” in our lives. This
How does the symbolic exchange between Hermit and Poet represent Thoreau’s two sides of himself? Describe the internal struggle.