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Walden Essay Research Paper Henry David Thoreau

Walden Essay, Research Paper Henry David Thoreau, a name heard endlessly by American Literature students, has contributed his outrageous views to society even after his death. Lectures and texts let his perceptions live on through teachers and professors that are all agreed on the significance of his writing to the transcendentalistic period.

Walden Essay, Research Paper

Henry David Thoreau, a name heard endlessly by American Literature students, has contributed his outrageous views to society even after his death. Lectures and texts let his perceptions live on through teachers and professors that are all agreed on the significance of his writing to the transcendentalistic period. Definitely worth the merit he receives for his contributions, Henry Thoreau’s views are nonconformist and thought provoking. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away” (Thoreau, 14). Thoreau himself marched to a different drummer, and it is this aspect of all great men that set them apart from the average. Socrates, Newton, and Kepler all men who found popular belief not to be the only belief, became great because of it. Although Thoreau’s views are not recognized until later in life, they in fact were being sculpted during his earlier years, and his adulthood literary works were directly effected by his childhood.

David Thoreau’s childhood was an unsettled one set in the early 1800’s. David Henry Thoreau being his birth name which he received on July 12, 1817 at his Grandmother Minott’s farm. Not until the age of twenty, when he was about to graduate Harvard, did he flip his first and middle name. Thoreau was born the youngest of three children; he had a much older sister Helen, an older brother John, and it wasn’t until the birth of his little sister Sophia that he became a middle child. His family was very poor, and his father’s various attempts at making a living left them much like nomads. It happened not to be until Henry was six that the family finally settled in Concord at the call of his father’s successful pencil-making business.

The Thoreau family structure appears not to be so different from the normal of the time period. Derleth even describes the family as, “a closely-knit family of lifelong duration”(2). Henry’s father was a grave, quiet man, yet not prepossessing like many men of the time period. He was likable, but his tendency toward deafness made it hard to communicate with him. Henry’s mother was an opinionated, insightful woman, and her lively and bustling presence often brought these opinions to the surface. Derleth states, “Mrs. Thoreau… could sometimes make sharp observations about her fellow citizens, though she was not in any sense mean, and she was very much liked” (2). Mrs. Thoreau was clearly the dominant force in the household, and the house was regularly filled with women. Aunt Louis Dunbar, Henry’s Grandmother Minott before she died, and none other than Lucy Jackson Brown the sister of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s second wife, were all welcomed boarders at the Thoreau household.

Henry spent most of his life in the Concord Village and town, which at this time was a scarcely populated town of just about two thousand people. He had, “… a boyhood like many boyhoods…” (Derleth, 3); he drove cows to the pasture, fished, ran barefoot, built bonfires at Walden pond during evening fishing episodes, and even hunted a little, though he gave it up pretty quickly. Whereas he may have been known for having a good sense of humor and easy geniality within his family, he was a grave boy. It was this fact that earned him the nick-name “Judge.” He became very interested in books and learning, a trait that would stay with him throughout life. Some of his early writings such as his journal and his first essay, The Seasons, displayed his love for nature and his writing ability, but left no clue to his later mentality. His journal quotes him saying, “My life was ecstasy.” Yet, if looking closer at his ascent into adulthood, it is possible to find more than what his simple quote describes.

Thoreau’s nonconformist and rebellious traits, especially his inability to have close friends, go all the way back to his earliest years. It is important to remember “Most behavior grows out of experiences with the environment” (Candland & Campbell, 57). This behavior is known as learned behavior, which classifies almost all behavior besides born natural instincts and physical conditions. Thoreau is no exception to this rule. When he was in his youngest developmental stages his family was very poor, and always on the move, which left him without a stable environment. Lack of a stable environment at early ages puts a child under much stress, and makes it hard for him to distinguish between the traits he should be learning. A child needs a consistent exposure to his surroundings and a stable relationship with people around him in order to learn without confusion. All the different faces Thoreau became acquainted with when he was youngest left him in a state of undeveloped sociability outside his close family, and the differences in his surroundings left him finding it hard to relate to the outside world as a normal child. Thoreau’s now crippled sociability increased the difficulty for him to make friends, and he may have even been teased or taunted by his peers. Now without boyhood companionship in the school or town, he would have to look for it within the family. Yet he was only to find an older brother whom, as older brothers often do, precluded his smaller, slower little brother, and Thoreau did not find it fit to have a his little sister for his closest friend. His father was more of a disciplinary figure than a companion, as most fathers of the time period were, and the womanly friendship he had with his mother still left him without real camaraderie.

Henry turned to the woods and nature, and here he found beauty and solitude. He found a warmth that somehow eased his need for companionship, and an indiscriminant charm that inticed him. It was a place that he felt a part of, even more so than the town, the school, and his family. He would spend much of his childhood here, as described before, fishing, hunting, camping, building fires. The important part is that he was doing this alone, and nature became his one true companion. Thus, creating his fascination and love for it’s splendor. His views of nature would be of the deepest perception and knowing, as he would spend much of his life there. These views not in anyway disturbed or marking him to be a disturbed man as one may comprise from his beginnings, but not being the views a normal man would derive from his naturalistic walks. He soon found that society itself was inferior when compared to nature, and began to view its laws and customs with a rebellious eye. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…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…” (Thoreau, 66).

Henry went off to Harvard and made his way along college nosing through books, and stayed much like a hermit. Though the experience was good for him, it gave him the chance to become acquainted with Harvard’s vast library, and introduced him to a few people he considered friends. There is even evidence of friendship in letters he wrote during college break, yet even they were considered distant friends. He wrote to one friend Charles Wyatt Rice, “It would afford me much pleasure if you would visit our good old town this vacation; in other words, myself.” By the end of college his mind was scholarly and the wide range books he was able to experience left him with great influence. The greater of which was Emerson’s Nature, “To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society…the lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other.” Emerson appealed to Thoreau with his love for nature and simplicity. A trait that was much a part of Thoreau’s child-hood. Emerson’s work began to help Thoreau realize his own pursuits in nature were not in vain, but were truly the pinnacle of living, and his childhood was the era of his true living. He, in response to an inquiry for a class record, states “Though bodily I have been a member of Harvard University, heart and soul I have been far away among the scenes of my boyhood. Those hours that should have been devoted to study, have been spent in scouring the woods and exploring the lakes and streams of my native village.” With this Thoreau leaves to go back to his home town, where he will go back to the environment of his boyhood.

Henry Thoreau, with his mentality almost totally developed, meets the reinforcement needed to solidify his views. His journal happened to be no personal concern, and one day while his mother conversed with Lucy Jackson Brown it was brought to her attention, which then of course was forwarded to Emerson. On the grounds that Henry’s views echoed Emerson’s so greatly Emerson then devised they should meet, and soon after they became, “ an important, if not always easy, friendship” (Derleth, 19). It was not long after their first meeting that Emerson was already writing of Thoreau in his journal, “I delight much in my young friend, who seems to have as free and erect a mind as any I have ever met…My good Henry Thoreau made this else solitary afternoon sunny with his simplicity and clear perception…” Emerson very much took a liking to Henry, whether it was a reflection in himself that Emerson saw, or a fertile ground for his ideas, it makes no difference. Emerson was just what Thoreau needed, not only someone to reinforce his thoughts and beliefs, but to become a companion. Now without any doubts to his way of thinking Henry Thoreau’s mind was concrete in it’s pursuits.

Henry’s childhood was a time of learning and a time of development. It was a childhood like no other, that in turn produced a man like no other. Every man that shall find his adulthood different from the next, shall equally find his childhood different from the next, and therefore discover the connection in their youngest toils. For every man’s days as a child is a foundation like that of a fingerprint, and all vary their paths accordingly. Henry David Thoreau will always be a name echoed through the halls of learning, and with it echoes this, “I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad” (T

Henry David Thoreau, a name heard endlessly by American Literature students, has contributed his outrageous views to society even after his death. Lectures and texts let his perceptions live on through teachers and professors that are all agreed on the significance of his writing to the transcendentalistic period. Definitely worth the merit he receives for his contributions, Henry Thoreau’s views are nonconformist and thought provoking. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away” (Thoreau, 14). Thoreau himself marched to a different drummer, and it is this aspect of all great men that set them apart from the average. Socrates, Newton, and Kepler all men who found popular belief not to be the only belief, became great because of it. Although Thoreau’s views are not recognized until later in life, they in fact were being sculpted during his earlier years, and his adulthood literary works were directly effected by his childhood.

David Thoreau’s childhood was an unsettled one set in the early 1800’s. David Henry Thoreau being his birth name which he received on July 12, 1817 at his Grandmother Minott’s farm. Not until the age of twenty, when he was about to graduate Harvard, did he flip his first and middle name. Thoreau was born the youngest of three children; he had a much older sister Helen, an older brother John, and it wasn’t until the birth of his little sister Sophia that he became a middle child. His family was very poor, and his father’s various attempts at making a living left them much like nomads. It happened not to be until Henry was six that the family finally settled in Concord at the call of his father’s successful pencil-making business.

The Thoreau family structure appears not to be so different from the normal of the time period. Derleth even describes the family as, “a closely-knit family of lifelong duration”(2). Henry’s father was a grave, quiet man, yet not prepossessing like many men of the time period. He was likable, but his tendency toward deafness made it hard to communicate with him. Henry’s mother was an opinionated, insightful woman, and her lively and bustling presence often brought these opinions to the surface. Derleth states, “Mrs. Thoreau… could sometimes make sharp observations about her fellow citizens, though she was not in any sense mean, and she was very much liked” (2). Mrs. Thoreau was clearly the dominant force in the household, and the house was regularly filled with women. Aunt Louis Dunbar, Henry’s Grandmother Minott before she died, and none other than Lucy Jackson Brown the sister of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s second wife, were all welcomed boarders at the Thoreau household.

Henry spent most of his life in the Concord Village and town, which at this time was a scarcely populated town of just about two thousand people. He had, “… a boyhood like many boyhoods…” (Derleth, 3); he drove cows to the pasture, fished, ran barefoot, built bonfires at Walden pond during evening fishing episodes, and even hunted a little, though he gave it up pretty quickly. Whereas he may have been known for having a good sense of humor and easy geniality within his family, he was a grave boy. It was this fact that earned him the nick-name “Judge.” He became very interested in books and learning, a trait that would stay with him throughout life. Some of his early writings such as his journal and his first essay, The Seasons, displayed his love for nature and his writing ability, but left no clue to his later mentality. His journal quotes him saying, “My life was ecstasy.” Yet, if looking closer at his ascent into adulthood, it is possible to find more than what his simple quote describes.

Thoreau’s nonconformist and rebellious traits, especially his inability to have close friends, go all the way back to his earliest years. It is important to remember “Most behavior grows out of experiences with the environment” (Candland & Campbell, 57). This behavior is known as learned behavior, which classifies almost all behavior besides born natural instincts and physical conditions. Thoreau is no exception to this rule. When he was in his youngest developmental stages his family was very poor, and always on the move, which left him without a stable environment. Lack of a stable environment at early ages puts a child under much stress, and makes it hard for him to distinguish between the traits he should be learning. A child needs a consistent exposure to his surroundings and a stable relationship with people around him in order to learn without confusion. All the different faces Thoreau became acquainted with when he was youngest left him in a state of undeveloped sociability outside his close family, and the differences in his surroundings left him finding it hard to relate to the outside world as a normal child. Thoreau’s now crippled sociability increased the difficulty for him to make friends, and he may have even been teased or taunted by his peers. Now without boyhood companionship in the school or town, he would have to look for it within the family. Yet he was only to find an older brother whom, as older brothers often do, precluded his smaller, slower little brother, and Thoreau did not find it fit to have a his little sister for his closest friend. His father was more of a disciplinary figure than a companion, as most fathers of the time period were, and the womanly friendship he had with his mother still left him without real camaraderie.

Henry turned to the woods and nature, and here he found beauty and solitude. He found a warmth that somehow eased his need for companionship, and an indiscriminant charm that inticed him. It was a place that he felt a part of, even more so than the town, the school, and his family. He would spend much of his childhood here, as described before, fishing, hunting, camping, building fires. The important part is that he was doing this alone, and nature became his one true companion. Thus, creating his fascination and love for it’s splendor. His views of nature would be of the deepest perception and knowing, as he would spend much of his life there. These views not in anyway disturbed or marking him to be a disturbed man as one may comprise from his beginnings, but not being the views a normal man would derive from his naturalistic walks. He soon found that society itself was inferior when compared to nature, and began to view its laws and customs with a rebellious eye. “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived…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…” (Thoreau, 66).

Henry went off to Harvard and made his way along college nosing through books, and stayed much like a hermit. Though the experience was good for him, it gave him the chance to become acquainted with Harvard’s vast library, and introduced him to a few people he considered friends. There is even evidence of friendship in letters he wrote during college break, yet even they were considered distant friends. He wrote to one friend Charles Wyatt Rice, “It would afford me much pleasure if you would visit our good old town this vacation; in other words, myself.” By the end of college his mind was scholarly and the wide range books he was able to experience left him with great influence. The greater of which was Emerson’s Nature, “To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society…the lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other.” Emerson appealed to Thoreau with his love for nature and simplicity. A trait that was much a part of Thoreau’s child-hood. Emerson’s work began to help Thoreau realize his own pursuits in nature were not in vain, but were truly the pinnacle of living, and his childhood was the era of his true living. He, in response to an inquiry for a class record, states “Though bodily I have been a member of Harvard University, heart and soul I have been far away among the scenes of my boyhood. Those hours that should have been devoted to study, have been spent in scouring the woods and exploring the lakes and streams of my native village.” With this Thoreau leaves to go back to his home town, where he will go back to the environment of his boyhood.

Henry Thoreau, with his mentality almost totally developed, meets the reinforcement needed to solidify his views. His journal happened to be no personal concern, and one day while his mother conversed with Lucy Jackson Brown it was brought to her attention, which then of course was forwarded to Emerson. On the grounds that Henry’s views echoed Emerson’s so greatly Emerson then devised they should meet, and soon after they became, “ an important, if not always easy, friendship” (Derleth, 19). It was not long after their first meeting that Emerson was already writing of Thoreau in his journal, “I delight much in my young friend, who seems to have as free and erect a mind as any I have ever met…My good Henry Thoreau made this else solitary afternoon sunny with his simplicity and clear perception…” Emerson very much took a liking to Henry, whether it was a reflection in himself that Emerson saw, or a fertile ground for his ideas, it makes no difference. Emerson was just what Thoreau needed, not only someone to reinforce his thoughts and beliefs, but to become a companion. Now without any doubts to his way of thinking Henry Thoreau’s mind was concrete in it’s pursuits.

Henry’s childhood was a time of learning and a time of development. It was a childhood like no other, that in turn produced a man like no other. Every man that shall find his adulthood different from the next, shall equally find his childhood different from the next, and therefore discover the connection in their youngest toils. For every man’s days as a child is a foundation like that of a fingerprint, and all vary their paths accordingly. Henry David Thoreau will always be a name echoed through the halls of learning, and with it echoes this, “I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad” (T

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