Naturalism In Henry David Thoreau

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Henry David Thoreau lives by an ideology of minimalism and simplicity, conveniences of his era are gratuitous for a life of prosperity. He entered the woods to explore life living deliberately and to tread a road of existential self-actualization. Thoreau is a transcendentalist so it is only expected that he does not align with centralized authority through religion and government which leads to the the overall theme of naturalism and self reliancy. Essentially the theme thoreau advocates is that a simplistic lifestyle allows one to live freely and wholly without the binds of tyranny and modern “conveniences.”

Within Henry David Thoreau’s passage, probably the most conspicuous example of Thoreau’s theme of minimalism and transcendentalism is when he states, “Our life is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count more than his ten fingers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!” (Thoreau 6) Essentially Thoreau advocates an “honest man” has no need for even the slightest of complexity in life and that a suspended state of ignorance from what is deemed as extraneous details is bliss. In this quote the word honest is a strong piece of rhetoric that exclaims that honesty and morality is primarily attained through simplicity and not through gluttony in curiosity. This connects back to my theme that thoreau advocates that a man can live virtuously only with simplicity, hence, “Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life,” therefore of delusions created by this superfluous reality is responsible for the many of the problems we have in modern society.

Thoreau once again exclaims that complexities in life are extraneous when he states, “Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fight with cranes; it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has for its occasion a superfluous and evitable wretchedness.”(Thoreau 6) “ like ants; though the fable tells us,” our lives are comparable to the regimented lifestyle of ants
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