Walden Essay Research Paper Henry David Thoreau

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Walden Essay, Research Paper Henry David Thoreau, a name heard endlessly by American Literature students, has contributed his outrageous views to society even after his death. Lectures and texts let his perceptions live on through teachers and professors that are all agreed on the significance of his writing to the transcendentalistic period. Definitely worth the merit he receives for his contributions, Henry Thoreau’s views are nonconformist and thought provoking. “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away” (Thoreau, 14). Thoreau himself marched to a different drummer, and it is this aspect of all great men that set them apart from the

average. Socrates, Newton, and Kepler all men who found popular belief not to be the only belief, became great because of it. Although Thoreau’s views are not recognized until later in life, they in fact were being sculpted during his earlier years, and his adulthood literary works were directly effected by his childhood. David Thoreau’s childhood was an unsettled one set in the early 1800’s. David Henry Thoreau being his birth name which he received on July 12, 1817 at his Grandmother Minott’s farm. Not until the age of twenty, when he was about to graduate Harvard, did he flip his first and middle name. Thoreau was born the youngest of three children; he had a much older sister Helen, an older brother John, and it wasn’t until the birth of his little sister Sophia

that he became a middle child. His family was very poor, and his father’s various attempts at making a living left them much like nomads. It happened not to be until Henry was six that the family finally settled in Concord at the call of his father’s successful pencil-making business. The Thoreau family structure appears not to be so different from the normal of the time period. Derleth even describes the family as, “a closely-knit family of lifelong duration”(2). Henry’s father was a grave, quiet man, yet not prepossessing like many men of the time period. He was likable, but his tendency toward deafness made it hard to communicate with him. Henry’s mother was an opinionated, insightful woman, and her lively and bustling presence often brought these opinions to the

surface. Derleth states, “Mrs. Thoreau… could sometimes make sharp observations about her fellow citizens, though she was not in any sense mean, and she was very much liked” (2). Mrs. Thoreau was clearly the dominant force in the household, and the house was regularly filled with women. Aunt Louis Dunbar, Henry’s Grandmother Minott before she died, and none other than Lucy Jackson Brown the sister of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s second wife, were all welcomed boarders at the Thoreau household. Henry spent most of his life in the Concord Village and town, which at this time was a scarcely populated town of just about two thousand people. He had, “… a boyhood like many boyhoods…” (Derleth, 3); he drove cows to the pasture, fished, ran barefoot, built bonfires at Walden

pond during evening fishing episodes, and even hunted a little, though he gave it up pretty quickly. Whereas he may have been known for having a good sense of humor and easy geniality within his family, he was a grave boy. It was this fact that earned him the nick-name “Judge.” He became very interested in books and learning, a trait that would stay with him throughout life. Some of his early writings such as his journal and his first essay, The Seasons, displayed his love for nature and his writing ability, but left no clue to his later mentality. His journal quotes him saying, “My life was ecstasy.” Yet, if looking closer at his ascent into adulthood, it is possible to find more than what his simple quote describes. Thoreau’s nonconformist and rebellious traits,