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The Self in Walden

In: English and Literature

Submitted By pandamonivm
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In Walden, Henry David Thoreau writes of his experiences living in a cabin in the woods in his pursuit for solitude, self-reliance and greater self-awareness. Similarly, in this particular passage, Thoreau urges the reader to be unperturbed by daily happenings and to live and let live as one with nature. Thoreau’s underlying message of self-sufficiency is apparent through his usage of diction as well as natural imagery as metaphors. In this way, this passage is typical of the wider text. Firstly, Thoreau implores the reader to strive to do his or her best under any given circumstance and not be affected by insignificant events, or societal pressures. The passage opens by requesting we “spend one day as deliberately as Nature” and not be distracted by “every nutshell and mosquito’s wing”. In nature, there is only survival of the fittest and everything happens with purpose. By requesting we live “deliberately as Nature” Thoreau is perhaps appealing for the reader to find purpose in life and give his or her best in working towards it each day. Thoreau also questions conformity, wondering why we should “go with the stream”. These ideas coincide with Thoreau’s belief that through pursuing meaningful work one can truly become self-reliant and thus attain fulfilment. Secondly, Thoreau’s usage of natural imagery as metaphors serves to criticise the superficiality and pretensions of society he disagrees with as well as reveal his reverence for nature. Thoreau appeals for the reader to look past the “mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance… which covers the globe”. Only in doing so, he believes, will we arrive at “a hard bottom… which we can call reality”. Mud and slush are generally seen as of little worth and alluvion refers to the substance carried and then deposited by the river after it was eroded away from the river...

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