Thoreau And Transendentalism Essay Research Paper The

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Thoreau And Transendentalism Essay, Research Paper The mid-eighteen hundreds, 1820 – 1850, witnessed the birth of modern America. In what was called the New Order America underwent several changes, both as a nation and as a society. The introduction of capitalism and industry transformed America into an aggressive, expanding nation constantly in search of a profit. A competitive and fast-paced society sprang up. Rooted in materialism and self-interest, Americans became driven to posses as much as possible. Their lives evolved into a less personal, less orderly, future oriented blur. All these rapid changes were at times hard for the individual to accept. Soon, people searched for methods to cope with these drastic changes in their culture. Transcendentalism emerged as a new

way of thinking, moreover, a search for a ?higher? level of life. Henry David Thoreau, a student of Harvard University and later a journalist, emerged a great transcendental man of this time period. While on a contract to write a book, he went to Walden Woods in Concord, Massachusetts and lived in rebellion from the confusion of this tumultuous society where individualism and thought were slowly decaying. Although people have interpreted it in many different ways, Thoreau?s experience at Walden was a definite attempt at a monastic lifestyle, providing him with order, freedom, and simplicity. While at Walden Thoreau witnessed the establishment of an order in his daily life closely affiliated with nature. Each morning he awoke early and bathed in the pond. He referred to this as a

religious exercise, and one of the best things he did while at Walden Pond. Early in the day, while the dew was still on the ground, Henry tended to his nearby field of beans – pulling the weeds first and hoeing the beans later. He referred to this practice of tending to his bean field as his attachment with the earth, his curious labor all summer. After his work in the field was done for the day Henry would go into town and visit with his friends and family. In the warm evenings he frequently sat in his boat playing the flute and listening to the sounds of the encircling forest. As his thoughts would drift he would hear a sound on the water or feel a vibration on his fishing pole that would bring him out of his dreams and link him once again with nature. Henry?s involvement

with nature played a very important role in his life at Walden, giving him an immense sense of freedom. Henry says, ?I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise ?till noon…in undisturbed solitude and stillness.?(77) This is the life he wished to live, not one of commitments and hassles. He believed that a man should ?…as long as possible live free and uncommitted.? Society taught its people to live their lives by greedy capitalistic principles, waking up in the morning and hurrying off to work at the factory in order to acquire more possessions. This is what Thoreau was escaping from, this is what he was freed of in the woods. What Walden Woods did most for Thoreau was it granted him with a simplistic lifestyle. ?Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as two

or three, and not a hundred or a thousand…? ?Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life? We are determined to be starved before we are hungry.?(64,63) Henry was opposed to the fast-paced lifestyle that emerged in society. Instead of being caught up in this senseless drama he searched for a life free from all that which was not necessary. Henry wanted to live a life with only the bare necessities so as to experience it in only its essential elements. Being out in nature provided him with this sense. At Walden he had a little world all to himself. He answered to no one, had no responsibilities, it was just his shack, his bean field, his book and nature. ?I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I