Henry David Thoreau and his “Walden”

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One of America’s most famous authors, Henry David Thoreau is remembered for his philosophical and naturalist writings. He was born and raised in Lexington, Massachusetts, along with his older siblings John and Helen and younger sister Sophia. His father operated a local pencil factory, and his mom rented out parts of the house to boarders. A light student, Thoreau finally went to University College (now Harvard University). There he studied Greek and Latin, German as well. [2]

According to some studies, Thoreau had to take a break from his school for the moment because of illness. He graduated from college in 1837 and fought with what to do next. At this moment, an educated person like Thoreau might pursue a career in philosophy or medicine or in the church. Other college graduates got into training, the way he briefly followed. With his friend John, he set up a school in 1838.

Henry David Thoreau had read “Nature” as a senior at Harvard University College and took it to heart. It eventually became an essential influence for Thoreau’s later writings, including his seminal Walden. In fact, Thoreau wrote Walden after living in a cabin on land that Emerson owned. Their longstanding acquaintance offered Thoreau great encouragement in pursuing his desire to be a published author.

Upon graduation, Thoreau returned home to Concord, where he met Ralph Waldo Emerson through a mutual Friend. [1] Emerson, who was 14 years old his senior year, took a paternal and at times patron-like interest in Thoreau, advising the young man and introducing him to a circle of local writers and thinkers, including Ellery Channing, Margaret Fuller, Bronson Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne and his son Julian Hawthorne, who was a boy at the time.

Henry David Thoreau famously stated in [3] Walden that ‘The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ He thinks misplaced value is the cause: We feel a void in our lives, and we attempt to fill it with things like money, possessions, and accolades. Thoreau argues that the value we attach to possessions and status is misplaced.

To find it, we must shed our false values and live austerely, with no luxury and only meager comforts. Thoreau’s basically right: Misplaced value contributes to ‘Quiet desperation.’ But it’s not the end of the story: it’s possible to value all the right things and still lead a quietly desperate life. We lead lives of quiet desperation when we resign ourselves to dissatisfaction. Quiet desperation is acceptance of-and surrendering to-circumstances. Quietly desperate lives are frustrated, passive, and apathetic. When one is dissatisfied, one needs to venture out into the cold unknown, even if that means a short-term decline in his happiness. If he does not, he will die comfortable – and still dissatisfied. [5]

Thinking he lacks talent, creativity, discipline, or luck is never good reason to resign himself to mediocrity. Does that mean he should give up? No, it doesn’t – he will always feel better doing what he knows he should do, even when the results aren’t what he would like. Even if he is unlucky in every way, that still isn’t reason to give up. If he has accepted his fears, he has accepted his life as it is now. It’s often difficult to confront fears, but it’s never impossible. One can’t always change the world, but one can change oneself. It’s a terrible way to spend time and energy.

Spend time thinking about how to make plans work, not about how they would not work. Spend time thinking about the things that can changed – and work to change them. If one sits and waits for something good to happen, one will probably be waiting for a long time. It’s true that some things are easier when one is younger. Do not resign to a life of dissatisfaction.

Henry David Thoreau is a man who views life differently from those today. While the society from today believes that we are very satisfied in what we have and who we are, Thoreau sees through the faces that they put on. He allows us to think on who we are as people rather than just numbers while also opening our eyes to all the things that are not seen. There are those who feel as though they have not completed their life’s goals and those who feel they have but yet they are longing for something more. While some may say they simply haven’t found their calling others have and yet they are still searching, in silence, for something to fill the void that still lies in their chest. That is what the said “quiet desperation” is. [4] It’s a feeling of yearning, wanting for something that has yet to be discovered so it must be pined after in silence.

Works Cited

  1. “Henry David Thoreau and ‘Civil Disobedience’ – LewRockwell LewRockwell.com.” LewRockwell.com, www.lewrockwell.com/2005/07/wendy-mcelroy/henry-david-thoreau-and-civil-disobedience/.
  2. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Henry David Thoreau.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Oct. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Henry-David-Thoreau.
  3. Walden.” Google Books, books.google.com/books/about/Walden.html?id=yiQ3AAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  4. “Do the Mass of Men Lead ‘Lives of Quiet Desperation’?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers,www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/finding-meaning-in-imperfect-world/201806/do-the-mass-men-lead-lives-quiet-desperation.
  5. One Thought.” One Thought RSS, www.miketuritzin.com/writing/are-you-leading-a-life-of-quiet-desperation/.

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Henry David Thoreau and his “Walden”. (2021, Dec 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/henry-david-thoreau-and-his-walden/

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