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Pros  and  Cons  of  Thoreau’s  Philosophy

Kim 2 Table  of  Contents   First  Paragraph.............................................................................................................................................. 4   Second  Paragraph   ....................................................................................................................................... 4   Third  Paragraph............................................................................................................................................ 5   Fourth  Paragraph  ........................................................................................................................................ 5   Fifth  Paragraph   ............................................................................................................................................ 6  

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Kim 3 Outline   I. Introduction   II. Body   A. Simplicity   B. Individuality   C. Cultivating  Poverty   III. Conclusion

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Kim 4 Andrew  Kim   Mr.  Dixon   American  Literature   6  June  2011     Pros  and  Cons  of  Thoreau’s  Philosophy   First  Paragraph How  should  we  exist  in  this  more  rapidly  developing  society?  What  agenda  are  we   supposed   to   attach   more   emphasis   on   in   order   to   lead   a   more   efficient   and   positive   life?   Henry   David   Thoreau,   as   a   Transcendentalist,   holds   a   unique   perspective   toward   the   society  and  the  way  of  living  life.  In  Walden,  Thoreau  goes  into  the  woods  to  cast  away  from   the   society   and   live   freely   with   only   the   essentials   of   life.   Thoreau   says   “I   wanted   to   live   deep  and  suck  out  all  the  marrow  of  life,  to  live  so  sturdily  and  Spartanlike  as  to  put  to  rout   all  that  was  not  life  …  to  drive  life  into  a  corner,  and  reduce  it  to  its  lowest  terms”  (Pg.  410).   This  evidently  demonstrates  that  he  desires  to  live  as  simply  as  possible  in  accordance  with   nature   and   acquire   the   true   meaning   of   life.   Throughout   his   essay,   Thoreau   emphasizes   three   key   concepts:   simplicity,   individuality,   and   cultivating   poverty.   These   are   the   core   issues  that  he  wants  to  emphasize  in  the  process  of  maintaining  his  life.   Second  Paragraph   First   of   all,   Thoreau   emphasizes   power   of   simplicity   many   times   throughout   the   essay   by   asserting   “Simplicity,   Simplicity,   Simplicity”   (Pg.   410).   He   lives   in   the   forest,   because   he   wants   to   live   a   life   as   it   is,   without   any   unnecessary   attachments   that   society   forms  upon  life.  I  agree  with  his  idea,  because  many  people  nowadays  tend  to  spend  a  lot  of   money   on   their   possessions   to   enjoy   unnecessary   comfort,   which   clouds   their   vision   and   disturbs   them   from   realizing   what   life   really   is.   However,   when   he   says   that   we   should   live   a   life   to   its   bare   minimum,   he   infers   that   we   can   survive   only   with   essentials   of   life,   such   as   water,  food,  shelter,  and  etc.  However,  would  only  these  fulfill  our  lives?  I  believe  that  if  we   spend   our   money   frugally,   not   greedily,   then   we   can   still   follow   simplicity   in   our   lives.   Therefore,   he   only   sees   simplicity   with   mere   visible   things;   I   question   if   emotions   would   also  affect  it.  
student 6/9/11 2:01 AM Comment: Could you be more specific about this phrase. Elaborate it. student 6/9/11 2:02 AM Comment: What unique perspective? student 6/9/11 2:02 AM Deleted: n student 6/9/11 2:02 AM Deleted:  that  

 

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Kim 5 Third  Paragraph   Secondly,   he   asserts   the   concept   of   individuality   with   freedom   and   serenity.   He   places   a   bigger   importance   in   nature   rather   than   society.   He   finds   a   farm   very   attractive   because   it   is   “complete   retirement”   (Pg.   408)   from   the   next   village,   separate   from   the   highway  and  it  is  in  “ruinous  state  of  the  house  and  barn”  (Pg.  408).  This  demonstrates  that   he   is   not   impressed   by   his   complex   and   crowded   society   and   decides   to   interact   more   with   nature,  becoming  independent.  He  also  accounts  for  individuality  by  saying  “If  a  man  does   not  keep  his  pace  with  his  companions,  perhaps  it  is  because  he  hears  a  different  drummer”   (Pg.  412).  In  this  quote,  he  criticizes  people’s  conformity  and  insists  that  we  should  go  on   our   own   way,   not   following   the   crowd.   He   seems   to   connote   that   in   our   daily   lives,   it   is   futile   to   comply   blindly   with   what   others   do   without   any   judgment.   However,   becoming   independent   may   intensify   our   self-­‐reliance.   Some   may   say   that   it   is   essential   to   build   up   individual   identity   in   accordance   with   one’s   commitment.   On   the   contrary,   it   must   be   more   significant  to  know  that  we  are  outcast  from  the  society  and  we  wouldn’t  have  anyone  to   socialize  and  enjoy  our  lives.   Fourth  Paragraph   Furthermore,   Thoreau   implies   throughout   his   essay   that   one   could   be   rich   or   be   poor;   it   really   makes   no   difference.   Rich   people   have   more   possessions   to   lose   than   the   poor   people.   Therefore,   being   rich   does   not   determine   that   we   will   live   in   happiness.   In   addition,   he   states   that   being   poverty   is   but   the   “most   significant   and   vital   experience”   (Pg.   413)   in   our   life   and   that   it   is   “[L]ife   near   the   bone   where   it   is   sweetest”   (Pg.   413).   This   illustrates  that  we  should  live  our  life  in  the  simplest  way,  getting  rid  of  all  the  unessential   possessions   to   be   happy.   This   can   be   better   understood   through   his   following   assertion;   “However  mean  your  life  is,  meet  it  and  live  it;  do  not  shun  it  and  call  it  hard  names”  (Pg.   413)  that  no  matter  how  terrible  our  life  may  be,  we  should  not  hesitate  to  face  it  and  never   blame  others  and  never  give  up.  It  seems  that  although  Thoreau  is  viewing  poverty  as  being   good,   he   ignores   the   fact   that   being   poverty   might   deter   us   from   what   we   aspire   to   do.   There   are   many   ways   that   we   can   substantiate   the   consequences   of   the   poverty.   For   example,  poor  people  living  and  fighting  in  the  third  world  only  in  the  pursuit  of  money  and   food.     5
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Kim 6 Fifth  Paragraph    

Walden  clearly  explains  Thoreau’s  perspectives  toward  society  and  nature.  Thoreau   desires   to   cut   out   all   the   unnecessary   areas   of   life   and   believes   that   life   must   be   reduced   to   its   simplest   elements.   Under   unnecessary   areas   of   life,   he   includes   society   as   well   and   wishes   to   become   one   with   nature   rather   than   being   involved   in   society.   Moreover,   he   views  that  being  wealthy  will  not  always  guarantee  happiness  and  that  we  should  live  as   simple   as   possible   by   taking   out   of   all   the   unessential   objects.   Thoreau’s   philosophy   encourages  us  to  live  our  life  to  the  fullest  and  realize  the  true  meaning  of  life.

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Kim 7 Reference Kifer, Ken. "Analysis and Notes on Walden -- Henry Thoreau's Text with Adjacent Thoreauvian Commentary." Welcome to KenKifer.com. Ken Kifer, 7 Oct. 2003. Web. 08 June 2011. <http://www.kenkifer.com/Thoreau/>.  

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