Your Promise to Walden
Each experience we have throughout our lives, negative or positive, is an opportunity to learn and grow. From those experiences, we make changes, adapt, and adjust. If we look at them in a positive light, we can actually move our lives forward and become better people. Education is extremely important in today’s World. Surrounding yourself with successful, driven, and encouraging people will only benefit you; finding a school that contains people like that is your best bet for academic success.
Today I am
School has been a part of my identity from the very beginning; if you aren’t learning, you aren’t moving forward. I have always considered myself very book-smart and I quite enjoy learning and attending classes. Education is something that I pride myself on, and who I am as a student is important to me. As a Walden student, I am a young woman, looking to further her life, even though she doesn’t know where she wants to go in life. As a Walden student, I am getting back into a further education while some knowledge is still fresh. I am taking advantage of having time to myself, without children or a husband, to invest in my future and my intelligence.
Walden has provided a plethora of tools to help their students succeed. This class is a great example of how important it seems to be to Walden as an institution for their students to do well. The entire first six weeks of school at Walden is dedicated to teaching students what they need to succeed and having them each figure out a plan to do just that. Walden’s library provides access to any literary resources you will need throughout your school career. Also, Walden’s advisors are very involved, friendly, and helpful throughout application, classes, and beyond. There is even a writing center that will help you edit your papers, or help you with any formatting questions you may have. By providing all of this help and then teaching us how to access and use it, it is essentially making it impossible for us to fail. By taking the guess-work out of finding help, and figuring out how to do things correctly, all the time we have as students can be dedicated to learning and completing the work to the best of our abilities.
While I consider myself already pretty tech savvy, this class has been about more than just that. Critical thinking is a big component of HMNT1001. Also, it has helped to foster a safe environment to practice locating, accessing, and implementing all of the resources Walden provides. Even the assignments directly tie into our success plan for school. In one assessment, I was able to get a clearer idea of what my learning style is, which helps me to recognize my strengths and plan accordingly. All of the things being taught about ourselves in this class will help not only in school, but moving forward in life as well.
I Promise To
I promise, to my classmates, my teachers, and most importantly myself, that I will not give up on my education. Knowledge is one of the most important things to me, so I promise not to walk away from school again without proving myself, to myself. I promise to seek out help and promote good study habits for myself throughout my school career. I will use the resources that Walden so kindly and blatantly set out before me to my advantage and take to heart all of the constructive criticism that my instructors offer me. I vow to use my knowledge to help others whenever possible, and to promote a better self to create a better world. I will change the world in a positive way, even if it is just by my personal contact with one person at a time.
How I Will Become Part of the Walden Community
To continue implementing all of the things I mentioned that I learned above, and to find someone who will hold me accountable for all the promises I made previously, I will need a mentor. After completing the Support Network Exercise in week two, I learned that my support network is rather shallow. I hope as my classes become more course specific, and I begin to find like-minded students who share similar aspirations with me that I will find someone traveling the same path as I am that inspires me. I plan to reach out to people in my classes to get advice, brainstorm with, and eventually connect with a mentor if possible. Because of my tendency to procrastinate, I need someone who is aware of what I need to be doing, and that will hold me accountable for the work that I need to do. I hope to find a mentor who will not take my excuses, and will constantly remind me that I am capable of anything and should be achieving at that standard.
School and education are one of the top priorities in my life right now. I believe the choice you make in schools is nearly as important as the type of degree you go to school for. With Walden I believe that I have chosen a school that actually cares about my academic success, and has set me up to succeed. I will hold on to all of the information I have learned about myself, as well as all the general information taught in this course and use it to benefit me in my life, and my schoolwork moving forward. By working at being the best person and student as I can be, I hope to inspire others along the way, causing change in this world for the better, for myself and as many others as possible.
Isolation as a Tool for Self-improvement in Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Isolation: Knowledge of Oneself Beyond What Society Could Ever Teach
Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” announces that Thoreau spent two years in Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts, living a simple life supported by no one. The episode was both experimental and temporary. A way in which Thoreau was able to observe his own surroundings all while analyzing society. It was how he was able to learn more about himself by separating himself from his usual space. Throughout this paper, I will support Thoreau’s experiment and argue that through isolation, one is able to gain knowledge of who they are and how they think in a way that society could never teach.
Henry David Thoreau challenges his readers to go back to nature and to remember that the simplicities in life are what make it whole. I found this experiment to be thought-provoking and brave. Thoreau’s concept of “necessities” struck me right away: food, shelter, clothing, and fuel are the basic gifts that nature itself can provide. The way I see it, this idea of minimalism could be and should be applied to the modern era. Today’s society is filled with anxiety over mass consumption, always wanting more of what we don’t “need” in the first place. Once a person removes himself/herself from their environment will they be able to analyze the pros and cons of their given situation. I can relate to Thoreau in this way. I appreciated Thoreau’s notion that “it is never too late to give up our prejudices.” (Thoreau, 5) He challenges people to have an open mind and to live life differently than they had been before. I think if we as a people conducted more “experiments” in our own life by changing out behaviors, everyday routines, and weighed the pros and cons of that change, we would be better off. In our society today, people are so stuck in their ways, they think they know anything and everything. This cloud’s the mind’s progression so we become stagnant.
Thoreau confirms my previous thoughts on isolation when he states that he has to abandon “the world”, including human society, in order to discover himself.
Not till we are completely lost, or turned round- for a man needs only to be turned round once with his eyes shut in this world to be lost- do we appreciate the vastness and strangeness of nature. Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as be awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves, and realize where we are and the infinite extent of our relations.
If one goes beyond themselves and their daily activities in their surrounding environment, they will soon enough find who they are. This can only be done by removal. Thoreau states that people more often than not people unconsciously go through their lives guided by routine. He says that once one breaks that, he/she will be able to clearly see their rut. Also, by removing oneself from society, will they be able to appreciate what extends their bubble. Nature extends the everyday human societal bubble. Nature is the leading catalyst for change. A person will be stuck until they surrender their initial perspective and change their guiding lens and lose themselves fully. Once a person loses themselves fully, they will be able to see what their reality is and alter their routine to eventually change who they are. Humans don’t appreciate the “vastness and strangeness” of nature due to the fact that they don’t allow themselves to get lost in the first place.
Thoreau makes the claim that when we allow ourselves to separate from society and normal environments and get lost in another world, we will be able to see where we are, who we are, and where we are going. Isolation is the way in which humans reflect on their past and the decisions they have made. Isolation may scare some, but experiencing total silence and disconnecting completely from any form of “normalcy” provides peace and relaxation. Distractions throughout our days can be addicting. Humans find themselves at a point of being so busy and stressed that they can’t think straight or control their emotions. Embracing solitude is an essential way to critically think and make decisions that will have an effect on the present. One must figure out where to have this period of isolation and take full advantage of it. I think the reason why people don’t view isolation as a positive experience is due to society’s skewed perception of it. It has been considered an inconvenience, something to avoid, a punishment, a realm of loners. I think humans view it as damaging because most don’t like to be alone. However, isolation, when pursued by choice, can be therapeutic. In other words, when people remove themselves from their social context of their lives, they are able to see how they’re shaped by that context. Alone time should not be something that one is afraid of. I won’t doubt that it takes work before it turns into a pleasant experience. But once it does it becomes the most important relationship, the relationship you have with yourself. By having a relationship with yourself, you are able to learn what you appreciate and what you don’t. You will be able to get in touch with your emotions, what you are and are not sensitive to. This important relationship will also benefit your relationships with others.
Markus Poetzch’s article “Sounding Walden Pond: The Depths and “Double Shadows” of Thoreau’s Autobiographical Symbol”, argues that Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden Pond” serves as an autobiographical symbol and a polysemic text that emphasizes the quest for self discovery and pilgrimage. The pond becomes a “reflection of spiritual birth and ethical reform.”(Poetzsch, 387) According to Poetzsch, the pond functions as a “guide or prophet, eternally reflecting (on) the sidereal hemisphere, and subjectively like a conscience, a pure distillation of law.”(387) He argues that for Thoreau, the pond is more than a mirror of the physical world but in fact an intimate pool of thought in which he realizes who he is within the greater realm of nature and his society surrounding the natural environment:
Under these terms, the pond represents more than a mirror of the physical world; it is an inner pool of thought, an element of mental topography in which the author’s self is realized and reified. Walden as text thus becomes a travelogue of Thoreau himself, something like a collection of snapshots in which his hair or fingers constantly start, across the lens, or perhaps, a portrait in which he captures himself holding the camera above the glassy rim of water.(388-398)
Poetzsch feels that Thoreau’s pond is more than a reflection of the world around Thoreau, but it is how Thoreau can further see himself as an extension of the outside world. He states that Thoreau can learn who he is within the greater realm of society outside of nature, basically, who Thoreau really is and how the world around him influences his thoughts. The pond serves as a symbol for self reflection instead of the physical world’s reflection. Thoreau is able to capture who he is, instead of focusing on society. It is a personal experience that Thoreau has to endure alone in order to examine his inner thoughts and inner soul. Poetzsch has come to a smart and well thought out conclusion of the pond. It is interesting to observe how the physical world can impact one’s thoughts and inner self. The case made allows the reader to critique their own world and who they are within their own surrounding environment. If more people created a space of isolation: taking a trip, taking a walk, or simply closing one’s bedroom door, a brand new perspective will become apparent. This is due to one’s heightened awareness of the self because there are no “outside” distractions. Humans must find their own “pond” in order to grow and change the shape of who they are and how they allow their minds to wander and shift the perception of their life. By doing this, one may offer a skewed view of the world and through conversation of their findings, possibly add a solution to change. A change that will better overall society. A change in oneself, will help others question their own beliefs, experiences, and thought process. It’s an ongoing manipulation of who one is, who they want to be, and who they will become. Isolation is the leading force behind change.
Thoreau’s pond is a mirror for himself and through isolation he is able to process his own critical self-discovery. Markus Poetzsch describes Walden Pond as a “bottomless symbol precisely because it subverts the truth of a single perspective in a single moment in time.”(396) It’s because of the pond’s “transparency and purity”(397) that it presents itself to be bottomless and it enables a reversal of perspective. This is a key element in which Thoreau is able to notice a shift in his beliefs but this does not promote anxiety, instead, it’s a calming force that brings clarity. The pond teaches Thoreau to examine the world and realize that one’s experiences are subjective. They are relative to each individual’s current situation. Poetzsch says that without the pond, Thoreau would be unable to come to such realizations, “the pond always maintains the self in the intermediate position between heaven and earth. This allows Thoreau not only to find himself but also to recognize himself in relation to others.”(398) The realization of where he is, what is above and below him, both humbles Thoreau and consoles. “It’s permanence, depth, unsullied purity, and sensitivity on the slightest movement upon its surface enable the reflection of any life, any subject.”(399) I have come to the conclusion that without the pond, Thoreau would not be able to reflect on his choices that have led up to his time at Walden. It is a vital part of the self discovery process. It makes clear what is necessary and what is not. The pond promotes a simplistic and minimal lifestyle without the clutter that society brings. The pond does not mirror societal pressure and promotes inner peace because of the realizations it makes clear.
Thoreau states that he enjoys and embraces his alone time, he describes it as a “wholesome” experience. “
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude. We are for the most part more lonely when we go abroad among men than when we stay in our chambers. A man thinking or working is always alone, let him be where he will. Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between man and his fellows. (Solitude)
This passage from the section titled, Solitude it describes the difference between loneliness by choice and loneliness when surrounded by others. Thoreau states that even when we are with others, we are still alone. The company of others promotes anxious thoughts and worries. Thoreau says he loves to be alone because isolation is his best companion. When people go out into society they feel more alone than when they are inside by themselves. Solitude is encouraged by Thoreau due to the fact that it allows a person to think. The ability to think without the persuasion of other’s thoughts. When one is alone, they don’t need to think about pleasing others or worrying what other’s will think of them. The individual needs alone time because it is the time in which one can become best friends with themselves. Humans need to re-learn how to be isolated. The need to remind ourselves that a time existed before instant communication and interaction with others. Humans need to spend time alone to center themselves and regain a grasp on the importance of life before they can dive back into society. Thoreau encourages readers to find a sanctuary. To catch a breath and find a tranquil space to allow one’s mind to roam. I agree that there is a big difference in being alone and being lonely. I acknowledge that Thoreau is simply alone. He enjoys his time spent contemplating everything in the universe. It is also evident that Thoreau makes a claim that solitude is more of a state of mind than an actual physical circumstance. Solitude means that one empties the “busy work” in order to confront the reality of the world. One can only achieve such an altered perspective through separation from external, societal pressure.
The Fundamental Statements of “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau is encouraging us to wake ourselves up spiritually. The original consciousness that he is referring to is likely an attitude in which one takes nature for granted and does not ‘awaken’ their heart and soul. Thoreau similarly stresses that this will lead to a more fulfilled life with no regrets. I believe that dawn represents hope with Thoreau using this to symbolize the ‘reawakening’ of one’s soul and the knowledge that they seek. I find this hard to analyze; what I can personally deduce is that even through one may have achieved successful materialistic goals, Thoreau believes that it is more “glorious” in life to work on your inner self which is the only way to live a meaningful and fulfilling life. Although I agree with this, I believe that it is an unrealistic statement as modern societies have too much obstacles and mindsets obstructing this. Unfortunately, everyone will end their lives with regret or there was always be room for improvement.
Thoreau is comparing society to that of “chopping sea” in which one is forced along whatever current is in control. Because of the connotation to a storm, Thoreau is implying that society is dangerous. He is also suggesting that a simple life is more enjoyable, stating “I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.” Furthermore, he also stresses that a better life involves improving yourself as a person and measuring your success through your own desires, not what society perceives to be successful and in acquired materialistic items.
Thoreau is emphasizing that people that conform and take paths that are already set out for them ultimately lose their individuality, spirit and personal aims. This is evident in the fact that millions of people live fake lives in order to escape ridicule from society. Many will post media of themselves online that does not portray their true self because they feel the need to be accepted by society. He is emphasizing and encouraging his readers to change routines so they can continue learning and growing as a person. His path was “still quite distinct” as his philosophy involved taking control and leading his life through his own path without negative influence from society.
Thoreau is implying that in order to life an enjoyable life, one must take a break from society and make their own decisions without external influences: “I did not wish to take a cabin passage, but rather to go before the mast and on the deck of the world, for there I could see the moonlight.” Thoreau is expressing “liberal” views as he is evidently against conservative customs and societies and is encouraging everyone to take control of their life. Liberal views are that of freedom with less strict rules. Thoreau is not literally referencing laws as in punishment, but is stressing that in “liberal laws”, people should be more open-minded and focus on improving themselves. The significance that he is emphasizing is that we should not be bound by religion or strict laws. This phrase represents that the people that follow his transcendentalist philosophy: living off simple means, pursuing nature and nonconformity will elevate and become better people, the “higher order of beings”. I can deduce that Thoreau is speaking of building “castles in the air” as a metaphor of one’s aspirations and dreams. He is conveying that one cannot simply construct a castle on the air (nothing), but most have a plan and solid foundations. This is more logical and realistic advice as it puts emphasize on stability and will not encourage one to helplessly pursue their most wild goals without security.
Thoreau is writing in a hostile tone, using diction “dinning” to aggressively direct his declaration towards people that claim “moderns…are intellectual dwarves.” He is urging everyone to make their own choices and not judge everyone: “let everyone mind his own business, and endeavor to be what he was made.”
He appears to be arguing that a wealthy man will have more problems and will ultimately be more unhappy compared to a poor man. He remarks that life “looks poorest when you are richest” emphasizing his views that a simple life leads to fulfillment. This analysis by Thoreau is often stressed by rich people who will often state that money cannot buy happiness. I disagree with this statement as I believe that one cannot hide behind a simple life as challenges are good and improve you as a person. One may indeed have some “pleasant, thrilling, glorious hours, even in a poorhouse” but they will tend to have less independence and will be even more restricted by society. On the other hand, happiness and success do not depend on wealth. Thoreau has used the sunset and the melting of the snow to represent that nature is the biggest reward/sight that one can enjoy and that you do not need to be wealthy to witness it: “the setting sun is reflected from the windows of the almshouse as brightly as from the rich man’s abode.” He is conveying that nature is no better for a rich man than it is for a poor man and they can thus have equally fulfilling lives.
Snakes and Different Creatures in Walden by Henry David Thoreau
Snakes and Other Creatures in Thoreau’s Walden
In Walden Pond, Thoreau certainly describes animals from an observatory standpoint more so than an integrated standpoint. While Thoreau does seem to gain genuine peace and friendship from the creatures around him, it is more apparent that they serve as representations of his relationships to people and society. In particular, Thoreau’s discussion of the snake implies a dark take on humanity in which our separation from nature has rendered us inept. It is the spring however, which redeems both man and the snake. Thoreau’s representation of the snake and other animals in Walden Pond primarily signifies his spiritual rebirth.
There is an interesting balance struck in Walden between the representation of animals as equals or instead as sanctioned curiosities for the purpose of observation. Although he entertained guests and went into town during his two years at Walden Pond, a majority of Thoreau’s time was spent alone. There is something to be said for nature, and in particular, animal life, serving as company for him in his journey. His descriptions of animals range from distanced observation to friendly amusement you might associate with friendship between humans. He writes for example, of the foxes: “They seemed to me to be rudimental, burrowing men, still standing on their defence, awaiting their transformation.” This passage in particular is extremely humanizing. He refers to them metaphorically as “burrowing men,” but more importantly likens their struggle in nature to possibly even a human existential one. The phrase ‘burrowing men’ who are ‘awaiting transformation’ conceptually echoes the uniquely human struggle to burrow towards an awakening in which we find meaning in life or achieve growth. Thoreau’s use of language here is just one example of the way in which his use of language allocates more dimensions to animals than is typically afforded. Conversely, Thoreau asserts that there is an “animal” part of all humans. As Francesca Osterero writes in her thesis on Walden Pond, “Moreover, animals represent the savage part rooted in all man. Within himself and all humans, Thoreau perceives two struggling natures: a wild, animal nature and a spiritual nature.” (5) In this way, Thoreau unifies humans and animals as spiritual parts of one another. This concept is an important base for the establishment of the snake as a symbolic representation of rebirth in Walden.
Similarly, Thoreau discusses a hare in these terms as well: “One had her form under my house all winter, separated from me only by the flooring, and she startled me each morning by her hasty departure when I began to stir–thump, thump, thump, striking her head against the floor timbers in her hurry.” Here, Thoreau alludes to a playful and touching morning ritual between himself and a hare. This interaction is undoubtedly reminiscent of one between human beings cohabitating. He even assigns the hare a gender, which rhetorically leads the reader to assign it more personality. Michelle C. Neely calls specific attention to Thoreau’s treatment of the hares. Neely writes:
Thoreau’s response to the rabbit’s childlike sound is to propose a more expansive motherhood that recognizes the “hare” as kin, as a child whose life should be protected; unlike most human “mothers,” Thoreau tells us, his “sympathies” do not stop at the species line. (126)
Neely has pinpointed the extremity of Thoreau’s emotional integration into the animal and natural world.
Thoreau’s account of the striped snake in the first chapter of Walden demonstrates his use of animals as allegorical for humanity’s devolution. Thoreau describes the snake’s state alongside the state of man, drawing parallels between the two. Like the snake that emerges from the winter still frozen and torpid, men bogged down by society lie in this same “low and primitive” state. Thoreau writes that “I saw a striped snake run into the water, and he lay on the bottom, apparently without inconvenience, as long as I stayed there, or more than a quarter of an hour; perhaps because he had not yet fairly come out of the torpid state.” The snake’s retreat into a frozen and torpid state is likened to man’s retreat from nature: they are stunted in ice, but preserved. Thoreau proceeds in the next line: “I had previously seen the snakes in frosty mornings in my path with portions of their bodies still numb and inflexible, waiting for the sun to thaw them.” Thoreau alludes to man’s emergence in spring, that the sun allows humans to achieve ethereal life. His simultaneous imagery of the snake emerging from numbness into the clarity of thawed spring is a direct parallel between man and nature. In his journal article “Walden Pond as a Symbol,” Melville E. Lyon addresses this motif, writing “The seasonal structure of the year provides the external structural principle for Walden. The two cycles provide two of its’ major symbols: spring and morning.” (289) The striped snake in this passage of Walden is a direct manifestation of the spring theme that Lyon refers to here.
Thoreau does place himself as a human being on a different plane than animals; despite the transcendentalist notion of assimilation to nature, there is certainly still human exceptionalism occurring in Thoreau’s work. Thoreau uses language in terms of “them,” the animals, versus himself as an outside entity. Here for example, Thoreau describes the way a bird eats with some degree of separation, as if the birds’ foolishness separates them from us. “They attempt to swallow in their haste a kernel which is too big for their throats and chokes them; and after great labor they disgorge it…” The language of ‘us’ versus ‘them’ is isolating when used in conjunction with imagery in which an animal struggles for lack of heightened intelligence.
Thoreau’s snake metaphor, however, draws parallels between the spirituality of animals and the spirituality of man. In this way, he implies some thread of unspoken synch that both animals and humans adhere to, in effect placing us all on an equal plane. Thoreau’s depiction of the snake in the early Economy chapter of Walden is ultimately echoed with a human counterpart at the end of the book in his Spring chapter. Thoreau writes, “So our human life but dies down to its root, and still puts forth its green blade to eternity.” (233) Where before the snake had stood as a synecdoche for nature’s resilience on the whole, here Thoreau addresses humanity’s role directly. Human life, just like snake life and all other life, is cyclical. Spring is a unifying period of renewal, not just literally as with animals such as the snake, but spiritually. Lawrence Buell has noted this connection between spiritual renewal and spring in his book The Environmental Imagination. Buell writes:
This representation of a late, resurrecting spring was a happy coincidence of the local truth and the symbolic reality enforced throughout Euro-America by setting the Christian Easter on the Sunday following the first full moon following the vernal equinox. (242)
Here, Buell explains the religious origins of springtime symbolically. This religious association between man and spring is evident across Thoreau’s language. On page 209 he writes: “In a pleasant spring morning all men’s sins are forgiven.” Thoreau is drawing a direct parallel that spring is a time of not just renewal, but spiritual renewal.
Walden by Henry David Thoreau and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson: Comparing the Significance and Symbolism of Nature
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary nature is define as, “The physical world and everything such as plants, animals, mountains, oceans, stars, etc., that is not made by people.” Many people in our society today would say nature is just animals, trees and rocks. Not many people deeply think about what is really out there. There is more to nature than just the basic “green” scenery that most people think of when the question, “What is nature?” is asked. Nature is used to symbolize many things in literature such as, peace, serenity, rebirth, good, calmness, and purity. Nature can symbolize calmness and peacefulness because when you walk into the woods you would mainly see trees, flowers, etc and you would hear the birds chirp or the sound of the wind because its quit enough for you to hear rather than in the city its to noise to hear the birds. Nature is heavily symbolized in different types of literature work, but it is used greatly by John Steinbeck and Bill Bryson as way to describe what they felt during their journey. The purpose of this paper is to show how Bill Bryson and Henry David Thoreau used “nature” as a way to symbolize their journeys and adventure through the novels “Walden” and “A walk in the Woods”.
William McGuire Bryson, better known as Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa in1951. He settled in England in 1977 and lived in North Yorkshire for almost two decades. He now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire. He is the son of William and Agnes Mary who was of Irish descent. In 2006, he published “The life and Times of the Thunderbolt kids” which discussed about his childhood, which he included his older brother Michael and his sister, Mary Jane Elizabeth. Bill Bryson dropped out of Drake University after attending the school for two years in 1972. On the following year, Bryson and a fellow high school friend, Stephen Katz, returned to Europe to start his adventure or “backpacking” trip. His travel with Stephen Katz was documented in the novel, “Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe”. Bryson wrote many books about his travels and journeys throughout his life. His travel books are “The Lost Continent”, “Neither Here Nor There”, “Notes From a Small Island”, “A Walk in the Woods”, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” (aka “Notes From a Big Country”) and “Bill Bryson in a Sunburned Country” (aka “Down Under”). His books on the English language are “Mother Tongue” and “Made in America”. Some part of Bryson’s life took place in the United States of America. Bill Bryson’s book, “A Walk in the Woods”, was inspired by his journey through the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz, during his visit to the United States of America. Later on, Bryson and his family, which included four children, moved back to Britain and now they live in Norfolk.
On of America’s most famous writers, Henry David Thoreau was on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts. Henry David Thoreau lived with 2 older siblings, John and Helen. He also lived his younger sister Sophia. Thoreau’s father worked in a local pencil factory, while his mother rented out parts of the family’s home to boarders. Thoreau was a very rounded child with a bright future. He later attended Harvard College, which is now the modern Harvard University. At Harvard University, he studied three different types of languages, which included, German, Latin and Greek. Thoreau graduated late due to his illness that caused him to stop attending class for a while. Eventually in 1837, he graduated from Harvard College. After graduating, he didn’t know to become of himself. With his knowledge and education, most people during his time would have pursued a career in medicine, law or even in the church. Just like some college graduates, Thoreau pursued his career in education. In 1838, his brother John and him opened a school. In the end the school eventually fail and closed a couple years later. Due to the school closing down, Thoreau later went and worked his father. Thoreau was introduced to Transcendentalism through Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom he met after college. Transcendentalism is the idea, belief or movement that was developed during the late 1820s and 1830s. Transcendentalism stresses the idea of self-reliance, individualism, non-conformity, embracing simplicity, potential through nature and hard work, finding your self to the fullest, and innate goodness for all humanity. Thoreau came to know many of the movement’s leading figures, including Bronson Alcott and Margaret Fuller. Emerson was Thoreau’s mentor and later Thoreau lives with Emerson for some time. Emerson used his influence to encourage Thoreau’s literary efforts. Some of Thoreau’s first works were published in The Dial, a Transcendentalist magazine. Emerson also gave Thoreau access to the lands that would inspire one of his greatest works. In 1845, Thoreau built a small house on Walden Pond. This land was a property of Emerson. Thoreau spent 2 years there to find simpler lifestyle. He worked as little as possible and sometimes he would go worked as a land surveyor or in the pencil factory. Also, he experiment the theme, “self-reliance”. He grew crops for food and only went into town if it was necessary. Even he lived a simpler life, he still encounter many problems with law. He was placed in jail for one night because he refused to pay for a poll tax. This experience inspired him to write an essay called, “Civil Disobedience”. Thoreau was also against slavery. He wrote many works that fought against slavery, such “Slavery in Massachusetts”. After leaving Walden Pond, Thoreau looked after Emerson’s house while he was on tour in England. Still fascinated with nature, Thoreau wrote down his observations on plant and wildlife in his native Concord and on his journeys. Later in life, Thoreau battles tuberculosis, an illness that had caused him great pain and suffering for the rest of his life. While on his trip to Minnesota in 1861, his illness worsens and he finally succumbed to the disease. He died on May 06, 1862, in Concord, Massachusetts.
Bill Bryson uses a lot of imagery to symbolize how nature can provide so much for a person. On the Appalachian Trail, there are many events that occur, such as death and injuries. The wildlife is usually involved in these events. “… his scalp it was dangling from talons prettily silhouetted against a harvest moon” (Bryson, 6). One could visualize a hawk holding on to a human’s scalp in the night against the moon. Bryson is trying to say that nature is a beautiful thing that many people misses because they don’t actually look at and appreciate what nature can offer to them. There are many different types of scenery that nature can create and offer to one’s mind. Just walking along a trail, Bryson sees nature’s beauty. “There were long shadows…”(Bryson, 80). Bryson was trying to express that he felt as if the shadows were right next is like one is right there along side of him. Bill Bryson, he focuses a lot on nature and how it affects human. Bryson talks about how many hikers don’t make it past the first day and some even quit with in first couple miles the hikers because maybe they the AT didn’t provided them with “proper technologies”,”…and they’d walked maybe a mile and a half before quitting. “ He said it wasn’t he expected it to be. They all say that.”(Bryson, 44). He compares how nature is very simple, while the modern world is very complex and hectic. Many people are to being busy that they never thought about the simplicity of nature. With nature there is nothing besides trees, animals, and rocks. The hikers have to get back to the basics and live without worry or any stress for a moment to embrace nature. For example, Bryson talks about how the hikers on the AT usually withdraw themselves for what nature is actually providing them, “… that the whole point of the experience is to remove yourself so thoroughly from the conveniences of everyday life…”(Bryson, 78). He is trying to say that you have to be one with nature in order to appreciate and you shouldn’t be distracted on your “smart devices” and just enjoy what is in front of you. He describes how on the AT, hikers become very calm with their selves and noting could bother them for hours or days because there are no stresses and nothing to bug the hikers. Bill Bryson talks about how nature provides him with solitude even when he is busy. Nature allows the hikers to have their attention on themselves, so at times they don’t realize what goes around them. The hikers just wonder the trails like noting is in their way. For example, during Bryson journey, Katz asks if Bryson had noticed the fallen down tree on the trail. Bryson said he didn’t have a clue about the fallen trees because he was so calm that he was to distract with the peacefulness of nature that he doesn’t really realizes anything around him. Katz was dumbfounded that Bryson doesn’t remember the fallen tree blocking the path. When wondering through nature it brings us humans back to a calm mood. Bill Bryson shows that human relationship with nature has changed throughout the years. Nature has become less respected and used by us humans. Nature is very simple and basic where as cities are very busy and complex. He describes how, we as humans ruins nature. He said that if nature were just left alone, it would be fine. Nature can survive fine, without us humans interfering. But humans think that when they are “changing” something in nature, it is helping nature but actually, humans are actually ruining nature.
The seasonal cycle throughout the book is used by Thoreau to symbolize how nature affected him through his journey. Also, the beginning and towards the end of spring is when world renews itself. Thoreau connects spring to resurrection and renewal and summer to growth. While autumn to maturity and winter to fatality. Thoreau began writing the novel around spring of March 1845. The story started out when Thoreau bought an axe and starts the construction of his cabin. He was determined to go to the woods to get in touch with God and a greater spiritualization of himself. This mean that he must get involved with nature and re-identify himself with the basic rhythms of nature and the cycles of the year and days. Thoreau uses two major symbols throughout the book. He uses morning and springtime a lot through out the book. Thoreau uses these two events as a way to symbolize how nature and during the morning and springtime have an effect on him and the way of life through out the book. For example, on second chapter, “Where I Lived, and What I lived for ”, Thoreau provide us with many example of how morning time effects him. On chapter 2, page sixty, Thoreau provides example of how morning symbolize how a new day is born. ““I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did” (Walden, 60). This quote symbolizes that a new day is born and there is an adventure waiting out there for him. “Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me” (Walden, 61). This quote symbolizes early morning when he wakes up, he reborn again and the adventures waits for him outside of his cabin with nature. For Thoreau morning is a metaphor for the birth of spiritual enlightenment and a way to learn more stuff about yourself and re-identify who or what you are.
In the first chapter, “Economy”, Thoreau had described a half-frozen snake, left by the cold of the winter as “torpid” (Walden, 28). That snake symbolizes the “sleeping” men who remain solid in their “primitive and low condition” (Walden, 28) by saying that those men just do what they told and just do tradition stuff and now trying anything new “Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man” (Walden, 62). This quote shows that Thoreau compared men who work hard without thinking to the pieces of iron that gird a railroad. Thoreau than insist on that men who work without thinking should be more awaken by spring, to rise to a “higher and more ethereal life” (Walden, 28). Thoreau begins building his house; this is part of his physical counterpart to his spiritual awakening. He constructed his cabin in the woods in the springtime, but does not move into until summer, when nature and his spiritual self is in full life. The day he moved in his cabin was on July 4th, which is Independence Day. This day symbolizes the day he withdraws and free himself with society and be one with nature. “..and so the seasons went rolling on into summer, as one rambles into higher and higher grass” (Walden, 212). This quote symbolizes that as summer goes by Thoreau increases him spiritual connection towards nature and grow greater as a person. As nature mature toward its summer maturation, the narrator will grow toward his spiritual fulfillment. During summer is when Thoreau is engaged in the construction work and in the bean fields’ cultivation. These are the examples of his self-sufficiency philosophy. But by cultivating beans, Thoreau’s purpose is to be more with nature rather than worrying about the economic issues. Also, to show that nature can do many wonders if you just try to be independent and provide for yourself rather than waiting for other people to take care of you. Also, in order to be independent you should be one with nature because “nature” can do many wonders that you cannot see.
Thoreau sees winter as time period where he would reflect on what happen so far throughout the year and the author likes to reflect with himself indoors rather than outdoor during the cold winter time period. During the wintertime period, he would give himself a task of measuring the pond. This symbolizes how he is reflecting and trying to find out more about his spiritual towards nature. Then, when winter come close to the ends, spring comes back again and melts away the ice and sown and awakening of animals and the spiritual nature world. This is the beginning of a new adventure whenever spring begins to take it course through nature. The second to last chapter, “spring”, is a mantra to the eternal fertility of nature. For example these quote, “..the mother of humanity” (Walden, 205) and the “earth is still in her swaddling-clothes, and stretches forth baby fingers on every side” (Walden, 206) shows that Thoreau describes nature by using a lot of imagery of maternity and childhood. Also, as the season cycle, Thoreau believes that our life would restart and everything would be new again and it would be like everything is new and fresh. It shows that Thoreau believes that us as human with have a fresh start again to life as the season cycle around.
Thoreau uses images such as light, fire and sun to describe the arrival of spring. This symbolizes the how powerful, active and lively nature’s is when the times come. For example, the grass blade, “symbol of perpetual youth” (Walden, 207), symbolizes how when spring come, “mother nature” is there providing and give off her good vibe to give the land a new life. Also, nature awakes any creatures that slept though the winter and when the arrival of spring comes they come back to life and infest the land around them. The awakening of the creatures and any living thing throughout the land symbolizes the spiritual rebirth for change and for any wrong they did throughout the year. For example, this quote, “In a pleasant spring morning all men’s sins are forgiven” (Walden, 209) shows that Thoreau believes that people are forgiven their sins when the arrival of spring comes and it is like if they’re a restart to their life.
Animals are used in the book to symbolize the human society. Thoreau withdraw from human society is because he wants to get closer to the natural world. The author describes the animal fine points. He also describes them with the most respectful way he could because he astonish and curious by their beauty. He was interested in observing and watching closely at their behavior patterns. Furthermore, he especially wanted to observe the patterns of the woodchucks, partridges, loons, and mice. He doesn’t record down just the animals’ behaviors but he also combines their behaviors with human’s behaviors. Many of his thoughts are from his imagination. For example, when he sees the black ants and red ants armies at war, he compares that to human’s battle. He thinks human only fight for materialistic reasons and not really for a real reason. They only care for they need and sometimes what they need is not really necessary. In addition, animals symbolize the savage part rooted in all man. Thoreau believes that nature can show the unmodified truths to most things and in order for humans like us to find ourselves or freedom, Thoreau believes that we must give into nature and see the value because he thinks that without nature, one man can not truly find out about himself or discover what he really is capable of doing. He also believes that us human should not just give up or rely everything one another but actually stand up and physically do it, than we will find our freedom. The most obviously and most important symbol throughout the whole novel is Walden Pond itself. The pond itself has a lot of meaning. It can mean various things because it’s a very complex symbol. There can be many point of views or perspectives that people have by just reading the book, but the small body of water can be a symbol of Thoreau spirit, philosophy or something that he think of personally and closely about. He compares the pond to heaven and earth because his quote, “Walden is blue at one time and green at another, even from the same point of view. Lying between the earth and the heavens, it partakes of the color of both” (Walden, 119), shows that the pond reflects the sky and earth and this makes it seem like he is comparing the humans to the god. Like how the gods live in heaven and we humans like on earth. Thoreau believes that the pond stay youthful throughout the year because it never changes and once the season cycle it just turn backs the way it was. He talks about the pond sleep during winter because its cover in ice. Than in spring, it awakes and turns into what it was before. It is like the youthfulness just recycle as the season recycle and also he describes the pond as being immortal or they’re forever like it every year it would wake back up. “Walden was dead and is alive again” (Walden, 278). According to this quote he believes that it has an eternal life because as the season recycle the pond life recycle. Its like he is trying to compare the pond life to human’s life. During the summer we gather food and prepared for winter. When winter hits we are confined in our home and wait for the incoming of spring. When spring arrives we regain our life back because the snowmelts away we are free at least. Than the cycle of season just continue.
Both Bryson and Thoreau used their adventures as a way to express themselves and how they feel towards nature. Bryson hiked across the Application Trails while, Thoreau borrowed land from his good friend Emerson to shy away from society and live a similar life by being one with nature. Even though these two authors lived in a different time period and had different approaches on how to attack the journeys, there ideas and apperception for nature is not much different. They both went on there adventure to be one with nature.
Thoreau’S “Walden” Simply Things Are Priceless
In Thoreau’s story “Walden” he is trying to get the message across to the reader that it doesn’t take a lot to live a good life. A good life can be acquired with the simple things that surrounds us every day. He points out that nature that we live with daily can supply all the necessities we need. Simplicity is the key. Thoreau stated, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand;” (pp748). Happiness does not come with having a lot of wealth and fame but being able to feel contentment within. Life is a blessing, and it ought to be dealt with in that capacity. Individuals these days tend to disregard the basic joys that life gives us. We tend to over-confound our lives because of apparently every day battles that we stress excessively over.
When we put cash and belonging first, we dismiss our needs and dismiss life’s actual reason. Life is a limited time span, however as mentioned before, it is a blessing, and it ought to be dealt with in that capacity. We live in a public that organizes cash over our very own satisfaction now and again. While Thoreau lived in the woods, he realized that living a simply life did not take much money, sometimes none at all, when he could get the things he needed to survive from nature. The things in nature we live with every day and take for granted due to having the power to buy those things we think that will make our living in this society easy.
There are a lot of contents in the story “Walden” that illustrates that money is not a requirement to acquire any necessities of the soul. God created a lot of resources for mankind to use for the good of the body and soul. Many have used these things for years, as Thoreau did, without the aid of currency. Thoreau wanted his readers to realized being true to yourself, which is a good nourishment for the soul, and can’t be brought with money, is far better than anything money can buy. He talks about truth a lot in the story “Walden. ” Here is what he stated in another passage concerning truth: “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth. ” (pp765). All the necessities that’s good for the soul are priceless. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, anyone can achieve these priceless gifts from God. No price can be attached to the source of getting in touch with your inner self to gain happiness and contentment. The things that makes you happy to be alive. Thoreau proved that we can live the simply life with just the basic things of life, food, shelter and clothing. We can gain from nature, figure out how to live in its condition, which is free to all, and satisfying to the soul.
Comparing The Real Bible To The Idealist Bible: Theoretical And Religious Correlation In ‘Walden’
American culture has a notoriously rapid pace and obvious state of exhaustion which accompanies an overexertion of the mind, body, and spirit of a person. In this hustle and bustle it becomes easy to lose sight of the ideals set for happiness and overall lifestyle. At some point in life the question of if it was all worth it for the end goal must be asked, and it is in this quest for purpose and meaning that many of the ideas presented in Thoreau’s memoir Walden fall. While many of his views are in sync with the teachings of the Bible on how Christians should live a meaningful and fulfilling life, others are in complete contradiction. Thus, it becomes necessary to determine the differences between the values of Thoreau and biblical authors, as both works contain ideas still applicable in the constant race of modern society. While Thoreau and the biblical authors agree on some points such as the devaluation of material possessions, others such as the eternal value of the present and the presence of the success-granting hand of God are different between the two works.
The most prominent instance of similarity between the Bible and Thoreau is seen in the attitude towards worldly, material possessions. Stances on materialism and worldly possessions are all throughout the Bible, and are supported by Thoreau’s own quest for a simplistic life. The most obvious example of a life void of materialism is that of Jesus Christ, who prioritized the mission of God over comfort and riches. Similarly, the biblical verse from Luke which says “[t]ake care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15) reiterates the importance of life outside of worldly possessions. In Thoreau’s Walden, he supports this passage from Luke when he writes “[t]he town’s poor seem to me often to live the most independent lives of any…cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change, we change… God will see that you do not want society” (Thoreau 413). These two passages are similar in the significance placed on life itself compared to materialism. To live a truly meaningful life, the things which provide personal gain in place of eternal value must be disregarded and attention turned to independence in favor of materialism. Only by disregarding the tempting and indulging worldly items will a life of poverty and independence be achieved. Thoreau praises simplicity when he advises “let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand…keep your accounts in your thumbnail” (Thoreau 410). Overall, the idea of simplicity in all aspects of life is present in both the Bible and the writing of Thoreau, as material items and simply distract from the overall goal of a fulfilling life, complete with liberty from cultural norms in the place of materialistic conformity.
Despite the similarities between the lifestyles called for in the Bible and Thoreau’s own writings, there exist differences as well. The first instance of contradiction between Thoreau and the Bible is in reference to living a meaningful life and how time it is spent on earth. The book of James addresses this when it says, “[c]ome now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’. Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time then vanishes” (James 4:14). This verse indicates the fleeting nature of each person’s time on earth, an idea challenged by Thoreau when he writes that “[t]ime is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains. I would drink deeper; fish in the sky, whose bottom is pebbly with stars” (Thoreau 411). While the author of James emphasizes the importance of living for the present instead of planning for the future, Thoreau’s metaphor of the sand and pond illustrates the idea that eternity is all that matters. It is in these contrasting viewpoints that the difference in priority between the authors is seen. Thoreau promotes eternal welfare over caring about the present, while James depicts the idea of a fleeting lifetime, calling for more attention to the value of momentary experiences. The final example of a difference between the viewpoints of the biblical writers and Thoreau is on the topic of success through God.
Sometimes faith can become dangerous when it infringes on the realm of chance instead of guaranteed success. An example of this paradox is seen in 1 Kings when it is written that people should “[o]bserve what the LORD your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go” (1 Kings 2:3). While faith in the plan and works of God is a healthy thing, Thoreau believes such a belief of guaranteed success is dangerous. He expresses this idea when he writes” [t]he life in us is like the water in the river. It may rise this year higher than man has ever known it, and flood the parched uplands; even this may be the year which will drown out all or muskrats. It was not always dry land where we dwell…” (Thoreau 413-414). The metaphor of the rising river portrays the reality of life which is that there will be good times as well as bad times. Included in this metaphor is the subtle guarantee that there will be times of struggle, which contradicts with the biblical ideal of faith will grant success in all things. The difference between the views of the biblical author and Thoreau for a successful life is essentially whether or not God will be present in all hardship and working to stop it or not. Thoreau maintains that natural life has its limits, while this pessimistic view is refuted by the optimistic and promising view from the Bible. In this, the two works disagree on whether adversity in pursuit of purpose in life is a lack of faith in God’s omnipotence or simply as a fact of life.
Overall, the authors of the Bible and Thoreau share many ideas such as a view on worldly possessions, but contradict each other such on topics such as the importance of eternity and the presence of God in hardship. A quest for meaning must be tailored to an individual’s personal needs, but such an experience as that which Thoreau had at Walden Pond is an invaluable asset to all people. The ability to find meaning while assuming a state of minimalism is beneficial to not only the intellectual side of an individual, but also the physical representations of living a meaningful life such as valuing eternity over momentary comfort found in material items. Overall, a soul searching adventure such as the one Thoreau engaged in is one of the best tools that can be utilized to find meaning in life, as the true meaning can only be discovered when the excess is peeled away.
A Modern Transcendentalist
The common denominator of the universe is not harmony, but chaos, hostility and murder”. Great minds like Thoreau preached that humanity is harmonious with nature. In reality this was not their point.
They sought nature as an escape from a society they found flaws in.Timothy Treadwell seemed to be truly harmonious with nature. For 13 years he lived among the bears in the Alaskan wilderness. With his video camera, he captured moments much closer, and personal than any journalist could dare. The camera was his only defense from nature. He became an overnight celebrity and activist for animals. In fact Treadwell never charged a fee when he talked at schools. He enjoyed his work so much, it was a passion and a way of life, not a career or scheme. Yet the story behind Treadwell goes much deeper. Treadwell grew up missing something, he felt as if civilization wasn’t for him. After college he turned to alcoholism to “cure” himself from the ever corrupting world. Treadwell’s rage is almost incandescent. He fights civilization itself. Just as Thoreau had in Walden, Tredwell turned to nature to awaken the unwakeable inside him. He seemed to connect with animals in a way he couldn’t connect with people. Treadwell pursued the Alaskan wilderness and quickly became fascinated by bears. He was all alone, except for his video camera. “The camera was his only present companion.
It was his instrument to explore the wilderness around him. But increasingly, it became something more. He started to scrutinize his innermost feelings, his demons, his exhilarations. Facing the lens of a camera took on the quality of a confessional”. In front of his camera, Treadwell seemed to show his inner thoughts. His problems with relationships, and his desire to get away from it all. Treadwell said “I’m in love with my animal friends. I’m in love with my animal friends. I’m in love with my animal friends. I’m very, very troubled”. He knew his problems. It wasn’t ignorance that killed him, Treadwell merely killed himself. Treadwell may just have been the true modern Transcendentalist. Cast out of the same shadows that summoned minds like John Muir and Thoreau into the woods. Muir himself stated “I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news”. Tired of society these men took to the woods to escape it all. Treadwell was not very different, and I think the wilderness was calling his name. Thoreau wrote in Walden “All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.” Treadwell needed to be somebody. And his inner struggles from his past made it all worse. Treadwell’s carelessness seems to spark from this very idea. It wasn’t that he wasn’t afraid of the bears, but simply his inner problems were more harmful than the bears in his mind. He was not ignorant, just incompetent. “For once there is weakness they will exploit it; they will take me out; they will decapitate me; they will chop me up into bits and pieces. I’m dead. So far, I persevere” said Treadwell. His hatred for society was deep. He was willing to risk it all to fight for his “cause”.
The only thing stopping him from truly escaping it all was Park Services, who were truly concerned of his well being. To Treadwell, they were the adversary. Treadwell ranted in front of his video camera “How dare they challenge me. How dare they smear me with their campaigns. How dare they, when they do not look after these animals themselves. And I come here in peace and in love—neutral, in respect. I will continue to do this. I will be an American dissident if need be. There’s a patriotic time going on right now, but as far as this fucking American government is concerned: Fuck you, motherfucking park service. Fuck you.” In his mind, Treadwell was a martyr in the fight against society. He knew what he was he doing, but his hatred was so deep. Deep enough that it meant more than his life to him. As the filmmaker Werner Herzog points out, through Treadwell’s camera, he wasn’t capturing wild nature, but the meaning of his life, and frankly death. Treadwell was never able to connect with people well. After college he struggled to make friends, and turned to alcohol. For years he was consumed by alcohol, as if his life had no purpose. In fact his alcoholism was sparked by his isolation. He was never good with women, and I personally believe this is where his problems started. “I’ve always wished I was gay. It would have been a lot easier.” Treadwell said.
In the wilderness, he believed he had finally found true companions; the bears. He named all the bears he encountered, and he centered his life around them. Of course the reality was different. Herzog sums it up perfectly; “I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world of the bears. And this blank stare speaks only of a half-bored interest in food. But for Timothy Treadwell, this bear was a friend, a savior”. Because bears couldn’t criticise Treadwell, they became his dearest friends. He had found his something to be, his pseudo-purpose. Why didn’t the bears attack Treadwell? You may ask. Maybe he was a true companion, and was harmonious with nature? Or maybe it was just natures disinterest in Treadwell because he was such an outsider. As the coroner puts it, the bears might have thought he was retarded, and let him be. Whatever the reason, Treadwell was able to get much closer to the bears, than anyone else in documented history (who wasn’t being attacked). “O God of love, o King of peace. Make wars throughout the world to cease”. These very words from a hymn written in 1697 might describe Treadwell’s actions. Was Treadwell a true martyr like the face of Jesus Christ? Many argue he put a spotlight on Park Services, and their mistreatment of nature. He also pinned down on for society as a whole, respecting nothing but nature, but in ways he may have done more harm than good. Humans and bears have a certain attitude towards each other that goes back centuries. They fear us, and we fear them. By interacting with these bears, Treadwell may have changed the way bears view humans.
If a bear showed up on your lawn, because he was no longer afraid of you, I believe it was for the worse. Treadwell’s real enemy was himself. “I would never, ever kill a bear in defense of my own life” Treadwell stated. He was so lost in his own mind being fed up with society that he accepted death for his fight against it. Treadwell couldn’t refuse the bear, just as Jesus couldn’t refuse the cross. Treadwell’s “something to be” had a huge price tag. Thoreau did not give his life for the woods. He had basic respect for his life and society. Treadwell on the other hand was different. Treadwell was not a Martyr. He was fighting for an unworthy cause with essentially zero support with no results. I believe his mission was more to figure out his own life, and seek his fate, than to truly protect nature. It wasn’t that he was harmonious with nature, but that he cared so little, that he would enter the “danger zone” to get closer than anyone before. The lesson to be had here is not that societal ties are unbreakable.
In the early 19th century, a philosophy known as transcendentalism emerged in America. Members of the transcendentalist movement believed that the thoughts of individuals were bastardized due to societal issues such as politics and religion. Although transcendentalists held numerous beliefs, the three essential values of transcendentalism are idealism, individualism, and the divinity of nature.
Transcendentalists believed that individuals should be independent, and not influenced by the rules of society. Along with individualism, members of this movement used creative writing in order to describe the significance of nature, and demonstrate their love and respect for the natural world. In order to live a successful life free from the judgement of society, transcendentalists believed that it was crucial to connect and understand nature.
One of the most influential writers of this period, Henry David Thoreau, was very passionate about nature. Thoreau is most well-known for his book Walden, which describes the importance of living a simple life and being able to provide for yourself while preserving a connection to nature. The transcendentalist themes reflected in the piece were inspired by the time Thoreau lived away from society in a cabin he built himself on Walden Pond. After Thoreau’s death, another piece titled Walking was published. In this piece, Thoreau writes on the subject of nature, and dismisses the ideas of society that hinder both individual thought and the experiences provided by nature. Both of these pieces reinforce Thoreau’s message that there is value in self-reliance and discovery as well as a connection between man and nature.
Throughout both texts, Thoreau explains that nature represents the natural aspect to man that has been subdued by society. Unlike most people, Thoreau believes it is more important to be independent in both social and economic situations than to rely on society to make those decisions. Thoreau finds contentedness in solitude, and refuses to interact with society, unless it is on his own terms. Thoreau also expresses that he does not understand how people can be content in life without a strong connection to nature. A passage from Walking describes Thoreau’s opinions on normal members of society, I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least”and it is commonly more than that”sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements You may safely say, A penny for your thoughts, or a thousand pounds. When sometimes I am reminded that the mechanics and shopkeepers stay in their shops not only all the forenoon, but all the afternoon too, sitting with crossed legs, so many of them”as if the legs were made to sit upon, and not to stand or walk upon”I think that they deserve some credit for not having all committed suicide long ago. Thoreau believes that people are distracted by society, and no longer take the time to enjoy the beauty of nature, and this is incomprehensible to him.
In Walden, Thoreau reinforces this idea when he states, Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumbnail… In both texts, we see that Thoreau expresses his distaste for society. Instead of a mentality exhausted by societal issues, Thoreau encourages readers to think deeply about themselves and their personal connection to nature. In Walking Thoreau says, In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society. But it sometimes happens that I cannot easily shake off the villageWhat business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something other than the woods? Thoreau believes that the only way to fix the issues faced by members of society is to keep the interactions with others to a minimum and to take the time to enjoy the splendor of the natural world.
Thoreau begins Walking with a quote that that captures the theme of the piece; his admiration of the natural world, I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil”to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society. Throughout the essay, he describes the wildness present in both man and nature, and uses the activity of walking to explain the human attempt to understand nature. Thoreau believed that man was a part of nature and completely separate from society, and elaborates on this concept in Walden.
In order to understand nature himself, Thoreau took a trip to Walden Pond. At the pond, Thoreau lived a simple life and supported himself. He knew that society would be skeptical of his endeavor, but wished to gain valuable knowledge about himself by surrounding himself with the natural world. Unlike other members of society who focused on materialistic things, Thoreau was content with simplicity, and focused his attention on nature. Not only did Thoreau build the cabin he inhabited himself, but he lived off the land eating foods that nature provided, and found entertainment and intellectual simulation in the animals and plants surrounding him. He proved that it was possible to live successfully among nature, and that people who escaped the grasp of society would be more satisfied and aware if they accepted themselves as a part of nature. Thoreau explains that after spending time in nature, he no longer felt that human connection was significant; In the midst of a gentle rain while these thoughts prevailed, I was suddenly sensible of such sweet and beneficent society in Nature, in the very pattering of the drops, and in every sound and sight around my house, an infinite and unaccountable friendliness all at once like an atmosphere sustaining me, as made the fancied advantage of human neighborhood insignificant.
While Walking and Walden share many of the same themes, the way in which Thoreau presented the ideas was very different. In Walking, concepts are presented more dramatically than they are in Walden. Although he presented his ideas differently in each of the texts, the relationship between the texts explained Thoreau’s reasoning for appealing to humans. In fact, an article published by Slate Magazine, claims that Walking is Walden’s counterpart. Wen Stephenson said, If you understand Walking, you can almost skip Walden. (I’m not really recommending that”in fact, please don’t.) What I mean is this: It’s clear that Walking, and the actual walking that inspired it, leads to Walden. Within a year of delivering the Walking lecture for the first time, in the spring of 1851, Thoreau was back at his draft of the big book, revising and expanding with renewed creative energy. You could almost say Thoreau walked to Walden. The natural correlation between the two pieces allowed for Thoreau to convey to people that in order to live a successful and happy life, they should not depend on society to guide their actions, and that humans were not superior, but equal to nature.
Transcendentalism – Idealistic Philosophical and Social Movement
Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau started the transcendentalist movement in America in the Nineteenth Century. People in today’s society seem to follow each other instead of following their own thoughts. People believe they need lots of possessions in life to achieve success. Technology and money have made people reliant on them and they can not go without either one. In Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson and in Walden and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, the authors express nonconformity, simplicity, and corruption of society in order to convey transcendentalism.
Nonconformity allows people not to conform to rules or practice everyone else follows. People lose sight of themselves when they conform to the ways of society. Envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide (Emerson 261). Emerson says this to express that if people copy other people they kill their originality. People often seem afraid to go against what everyone else believes even when they do not believe the same beliefs. Society everywhere is in conspiracy against the manhood of every one of its members (Emerson 261). Society does not want their members to rebel against their beliefs. According to Malcolm X, I admired any Negro man who has never had himself conked, or who has had the sense to get rid of it – as I finally did ( 283). Malcolm X realizes that he does not have to change his hair to fit in with everyone. Many people did not have their hair conked, so Malcolm never conked his hair anymore. Conforming to the ways of others only hurts people and never helps them as a person. Dictionary.com states that simplicity as absence of luxury, pretentiousness, ornament, etc.; plainless. Henry David Thoreau moved to Walden Pond to live his life in the simplest way. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! (Walden 91). Thoreau says simplicity often to express that living in society people do not have to a lot to live good. Many families live in a big house with multiple rooms and only use a couple of rooms. Instead of three meals a day,… eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportions ( Walden 91).
Families do not need lots of dishes when they consist of three to five people. Owning a lot of unneeded items only makes clutter homes when the items do not really get used regularly. The more items people own does not make their lives better or them a better person. Society has easily corrupted by all the advances coming into the world. People in today society worry about either they have the latest technology instead of the basic necessities of life. Computers, cell phones, and internet corrupt people’s lives because they no longer have to go into public to shop, talk to people, and pay their bills. We live in a world of surfeit stuff, of big-box stores and 24-hour online shopping opportunities. Members of every socioeconomic bracket can and do deluge themselves with products (Hill). The internet allows people to shop twenty-four online, so people lose the need to leave their homes. Young people today rely on cell phones so much that they lose communication and academic skills. Phones allow people to just call others and see them face to face so when people come face to face they can not communicate well. Teens use slang wording in text messages so often so when the go-to spell words out they often cannot spell correctly. People rely on their phones and the internet to help them spell unknown words, and apps to work math problems out. In today’s society, People often no longer value the money they make. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him: and it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it ( Civil Disobedience 351). People often make large amounts of money and spend it on items they do not really need. People never really think about the future, so they do not prepared when a crisis happens.
The beliefs transcendentalism of nonconformity, simplicity, and corruption of society used in Emerson’s and Thoreau’s works still seem popular issues in society today. People have trouble not conforming to the views of the government and their peers. Many people think they have to have lots of things to have a good life when they really do not need a lot. Society relies heavily on technology and money that they get caught up in their phones and money that they can not function without them. People should live the way they think works best for them.