Henry David Thoreau Essay Economy

Walden Economy Essay

Summary Thoreau explains how he chose to live in the woods in a little house on the shore of Walden Pond. He explains that he will write in the first person. He asserts that all text is written in the first person but that authors sometimes just choose to not use the term "I." "I require of every writer...a simple and sincere account of his own life...for if he has lived sincerely, it must have been a distant land to me," Thoreau writes. He then fulfills his own requirement, explaining his daily life and why he chose this way of living.

Farmers are chained to their farms as much as a person is chained in a jail. Possessions tie a person down. Work ties a person down. Attempting to own things leads to work that restricts an individual's freedom. To truly live is determining what one needs and enjoys and working to acquire only those things. "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation," Thoreau writes. He asserts that there is no point to living if it is not deliberate.

There are four basic necessities: food, shelter, clothing, and fuel. Each of these has the object of conserving an individual's energy. Without them, human beings cannot contemplate the true problems of life. The quantity and quality of these necessities do not have to be high: "Most of the luxuries and many of the so called comforts of life are not only dispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." Material wealth does not mean intellectual and spiritual wealth, and the latter are much more important. It is best to want less.

Clothing is of no great importance. It is the man inside the clothing that matters. Shelter is important to keep one warm and provide a home, but a good shelter can be created in a matter of days. Many individuals tie themselves down by spending years in paying for their homes. With fewer possessions, one does not need a large house. If civilization truly advances, it will produce better things for less exchange. Thoreau built his little cabin in four months with timber and the boards from another shanty. Building one's own home brings one closer to one's surroundings, like the bird that builds its own nest. In all, Thoreau spent $28.125 on his house, less than a year's rent at Cambridge College. If the four basic necessities are more expensive than they were in the past, then much of modern "improvement" is not actually improving what is most important. To spend one's youth making money to enjoy old age is silly. One should live during all moments of life.

Before Thoreau finished building the house, he grew and sold vegetables...

Loading: Checking Spelling


Read more

Walden book report by Henry David Thoreau

891 words - 4 pages Have you ever taken a moment and just embraced the world around you for what it is? Most people do not have enough time in their busy schedules to slow down and absorb the atmosphere around them. This is the premises for Henry David Thoreau's Walden. Within these 300 pages, Thoreau delightfully makes his argument that in order for man to ever evolve as human beings, we must first simplify. Written in the years 1845-1847, Thoreau was observing...

Henry David Thoreau Essay

4217 words - 17 pages Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau was a man who expressed his beliefs of society, government, and mankind while living under his own self-criticism. Thoreau believed he had many weaknesses which made him a failure. This strong disapproval of himself contrasted with his powerful words and strong actions. These contradictions led to some of Thoreau's greatest pieces of literature. Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts...

Walden and the Art of Zen. Speaks of Henry David Thoreau

1778 words - 7 pages If I were asked who my favourite Western Zen philosopher was, without anyhesitation, I would declare it to be Henry David Thoreau. Although he knew in translationthe religious writings of the Hindus, it may be unlikely that Henry David Thoreau everstudied the teachings of the Zen Masters. Even then, the insight...

Thoreau's Message in Walden

1020 words - 4 pages Thoreau's Message in Walden   In Walden, Henry D. Thoreau presented a radical and controversial perspective on society that was far beyond its time. In a period where growth both economically and territorially was seen as necessary for the development of a premature country, Thoreau felt the opposite. Thoreau was a man in search of growth within himself and was not concerned with outward improvements in him or society. In the chapter...

Henry D. Thoreau's views on nature, society, and man.

1520 words - 6 pages Thoreau Views on Nature, Society, and ManHenry David Thoreau's life began on July 12, 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts. At a young age he began to show an interest in writing. In 1833, at the age of sixteen, Thoreau was accepted to Harvard University....

The Path to Divine Wisdom

1687 words - 7 pages The Path to Divine Wisdom Throughout history different segments of society have struggled for such liberties as personal freedom and eternal happiness. For centuries man has attempted to "find" himself, posing the questions "Who am I?" and "Who do I want to be?" People tend to express themselves physically, spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally in order to promote their image, their sense of identity and individualism. During the...

The Effects Of Living At Walden

1562 words - 6 pages In 1854, Henry David Thoreau gave us what would become his most famous non-fiction book, Walden; or life in the Woods. In this, Thoreau describes his project at Walden Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau decided that he was going to live “deliberately” in the woods for over two years and live off of a limited economy and isolate himself from society in order to gain a more objective understanding of it. But one has to ask the question,...

The philosophy of Thoreau as potrayed in "Walden"--two main quotes the depict the central idea of his philosophy and trancedentalism and specific details to back it up. Includes a bibliography.

1070 words - 4 pages "Philosophy of Thoreau""Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? 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 345). In Walden, Henry David Thoreau bases his philosophy of the true meaning of life on the importance of self-reliance to gain self-fulfillment,...

A political economic analysis of "Sahara" and "Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". High distinction.

3136 words - 13 pages A political economy approach to film places films within the context of the world and the market in which they are produced, enabling the study of how this context affects all aspects of a film - its production, distribution and reception. Ignoring this context in favour of a purely text-based approach can lead to a skewed analysis of a film. A political economy approach can be multidisciplinary, and inevitably includes considerations of film...

Back to Nature in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden

2029 words - 8 pages In Walden, Henry David Thoreau explains how a relationship with nature reveals aspects of the true self that remain hidden by the distractions of society and technology. To Thoreau, the burdens of nineteenth century existence, the cycles of exhausting work to obtain property, force society to exist as if it were "slumbering." Therefore, Thoreau urges his readers to seek a spiritual awakening. Through his rhetoric,Thoreau alludes to a "rebirth"...

Thoreau´s View on Nature and Human Necessities

1495 words - 6 pages Discuss what Thoreau considered to be important in life? Nature and the benefits of a simplified lifestyle were important to Thoreau. Thoreau makes the statement how “brute creation requires more than Food and Shelter. Even in a certain climate, Thoreau felt that a man’s necessities are Food, Shelter, Clothing, and Fuel. He states how cats and dogs require the same second nature. Liebig says, “ man’s body is a stove, and food is the fuel...

Walden Economy

"I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up."Economy, pg. 39

The first chapter of Walden is an introduction to Henry David Thoreau's philosophy that led him to live at Walden Pond for two years and two months. It gives the reader a background argument for this drastic step.

Thoreau begins the first chapter by talking about the problem of using "I" in the book, which is not an accepted convention in literature at this time. He decides that he is by necessity limited to his own experience in this book, since it was written chiefly while he lived alone on Walden Pond, and so resolves to use "I". Following this brief introduction, he takes up the issue of inheritances, and how they are more harm than worth. He feels that men work most of their life to get out of debt, and that the possessions (both land and other things) that they want so much actually make their life degrading. Along this line, an inheritance merely adds to a person's burden of stuff, and so makes their lives even more difficult and unpleasant.

"The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation."Economy, pg. 43

He talks about change, and the unwillingness of most people to accept the possibility of change in their lives, or to consider taking a risk towards change. This, he feels, is wrong.

The next set of issues Thoreau addresses in this chapter is food, shelter, clothing and fuel; because we have them, we need them, in their current luxurious forms. Thoreau is most critical of fire, and how we are obsessed with it. He introduces his concept of the body's vital heat, which people have replicated with their fires and over-luxurious houses. He talks about all the local businessmen who seek out trade in exotic places just so that in the end, they can have the money to be comfortably warm in New England. In other words, they spend all their lives making enough money so that they can transport the heat back to New England and die in warmth. He says that the luxuriously rich are in fact so warm that they get cooked in their houses. Above all, a poor philosopher's life is best, one that lives as he preaches, which solves the problems of life practically. They are able to learn how to maintain their vital heat in a better way. In this, and many other cases, the wealthy are the poorest because they do not know how they live - how to make their own fires burn, or cook their own food, and so are tied to something they have, but don't know how to use.

Thoreau leaves behind this broad discussion of slavery to one's money to speak about Walden Pond. He describes trying to catch the wind, and be present when the sun rises, because:

"I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand at the meeting of two eternities, the past and future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line."Economy, pg. 49

The true purpose of Thoreau's stay in Walden:

"My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some private business with the fewest obstacles; to be hindered from accomplishing which for want of a little common sense, a little enterprise and business talent, appeared not so sad as foolish."Economy, pg. 51

Thoreau then returns to the main subject of this chapter, and tells the story of a local Indian who decided to make baskets as a living. After making a number of them, he went from house to house to sell them, only to realize that he had to create a demand for the baskets before anyone would be willing to buy them. Thoreau decides that, instead of learning how to create a demand, he would like to learn how to avoid selling baskets altogether. He doesn't like the strict business habits of the world, and is more interested in the business of the "celestial empire." In this empire, you can downscale your life, because all you need to keep track of your affairs is a cottage by the water, as opposed to a huge office. And so that is what Walden is for Thoreau.

Next, Thoreau takes up the ridiculousness of clothing, and how we must keep it in good order, even if it is of little import to the character of a person. In contrast to white people's extravagant ways, Indian wigwams are of high quality, comfortable, and very cheap to build and maintain:

"But lo! men have become the tools of their tools. The man who independently plucked the fruits when he was hungry is become a farmer; and he who stood under a tree for shelter, a housekeeper. We now no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten heaven. We have adopted Christianity merely as an improved method of agri-culture. We have built for this world a family mansion, and for the next a family tomb. The best works of art are the expression of man's struggle to free himself from this condition, but the effect of our art is merely to make this low state comfortable and that higher state to be forgotten."Economy, pg. 64

In March of 1845, Thoreau borrows an axe to cut down timber for his house. It is a beautiful spring, thawing out everything people were unhappy about. The woodcutting took him a while, and he didn't think about much while he was doing it, but he enjoyed the process. He became well acquainted with the pine, which he was cutting through all his work. He also bought the boards for his house from a local Irish man, James Collins, who moved out so he could get the money for the boards.

Topic Tracking: My House Outdoors 1

Thoreau then proceeds to give an update on the progress of his house. The cellar is built, but the chimney and caulking will come later when the weather cools in the fall.

He raises the roof of the house with the help of some friends. The construction of his own house launches Thoreau into a commentary on the excesses of architecture, where fancy ornamental designs are useless, and only show off excessive wealth.

Flying in the face of this excess, Thoreau catalogues the expenses and profits of his first year in the woods: his building materials, food, sale of some crops, lime, and so on.

Next, Thoreau takes up a critique of school, especially against the cost of going away to study, and having to pay tuition, while the mere association with other excited scholars (not the classes) is the most valuable part of going to school. But, above all, learning by doing is more valuable than studying. Unfortunately, students at universities don't have any hands-on experiences.

Thoreau takes up a critique of the telegraph and railroad, and talks about how people are in a rush to connect places, but its not clear why, except for the satisfaction gained in saying it has been done. Also, it turns out that it takes as much time to earn the rail passage somewhere as it would just to walk there in the first place.

Thoreau returns to the issue of inheritance and estates. Things never go away, he says, and we only keep them to get rid of them in our estate, instead of cleaning out. We keep stuff only so we can show it off in our estate after we've died.

After this, Thoreau takes up the subject of charity. He doesn't practice it or think it's appropriate. He say it is ridiculous to employ someone out of pity when you could just do it yourself, and be a better person because of it. He insists that we must all become worthy of receiving charity, as opposed to poisoning other people by giving it to them. It's a disease to spread charity, if you are not true to yourself first, and happy with the life you are leading.

0 Replies to “Henry David Thoreau Essay Economy”

Lascia un Commento

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *