Most people think Thoreau to be in the shadow of Wordsworth. Thoreau strongly seeks to evade Emerson wherever he cannot revise him directly. Only “Walden” was exempt from censure. Thoreau was a kind of American Mahatma Ghandhi, a Tolstoyan hermit practicing native arts and crafts out in the woods. He was not really an oppositional or dialectical thinker, like Emerson, though certainly an oppositional personality, as the sacred Emerson was not. Being also something of an elitist, again and unlike Emerson, Thoreau could not always manage Emerson’s building up a kind of Longinian discourse by quoting without citation.
Walden,” for its incessant power, is frequently uneasy because of an unspoken presence, or a perpetual absence that might as well be a presence, and that stated in Thoreau’s journal: Emerson does not consider things in respect to their essential utility, but an important partial and relative one, as works of art perhaps. His probes pass one side of their center of gravity. His exaggeration is of a part, not of the whole. This is only a weak misreading of Emerson. However, it attributes to Emerson what is actually Thoreau’s revision of Emerson.Order now
Thoreau was also a kind of Gnostic, but the rebel Thoreau remained a Wordsworthian, reading nature for evidences of a continuity in the ontological self that nature simply could not provide. “Walden” is considered as both a simple and a difficult text, simple in that readers feel a sense of unity. It is difficult in that they have been persistently perplexed and occasionally exhorted in form. The primary question is to seek what Walden means. There is also the concern with Walden’s style. Walden’s meaning can be explained in two different ways.
The first is by introducing a distinction between form and content which simultaneously focuses attention on the question of form and reduces content to little more than banning. From the first move follows the more interesting and more pervasive second meaning. The preoccupation with Walden’s formal qualities turns Walden’s meaning in a simple sense. The assertion is to examine the form of any literary artifact, which is to identify its essential unity, thus the concern with Walden’s structural wholeness is integrated well in the book.
In other words, one can say that the common moral of “Walden” is the virtue of simplicity. Thoreau substituted words like poverty, a word which set him apart from his materialistic neighbors. “By poverty,” he said, “simplicity of life and fewness of incidents, I am solidified and crystallized, as a vapor or liquid by cold. It is a singular concentration of strength and energy and flavor. Chastity is perpetual acquaintance with the All. My diffuse and vaporous life becomes as frost leaves and spiculae radiant as gems on the weeds and stubble an a winter morning.
Such poverty or purity was a necessity of Thoreau’s economy. By simplicity, which Thoreau called poverty, his life becomes concentrated and organized. “Walden” filled Thoreau’s immediate need of self-therapy. In this perspective, “Walden” is the resolution Thoreau was able to fulfill through art. He had effected his own resolution through cautious endeavor and mature serenity. However, this serenity of Thoreau, is a victory of discipline. He says it is the highest aim in life, which requires the highest and finest discipline.
To become one with Nature is to become a soul reflecting the fullness of a being. His desire to perceive things truly and simply resulted in his belief that fatal coarseness is the result of mixing trivial affairs of men. In order to justify his devotion to purity he wrote “Walden. ” He believed that when men is able to find his natural center, a promise of the higher society man is possible. Like other works of his time, it has the unique effort of American romanticism. It has impressive individualism and the desire for experience.
In the end, Thoreau stated that if a man’s writings are interpreted more than one version, it is considered a ground for complaint. He wanted “Walden” to be a fact truly and absolutely stated, otherwise he would have considered it a failure if is served only to communicate an eccentric’s refusal to go along with society, if taken literally. “Walden” is an experience of the cosmic travels of the self. At Walden pond, he wrote that the imagination of oneself is the best symbol of our life. He went to Walden pond because he wanted to find a place where you can walk and think with the least obstruction.
He wanted a road where he could travel and to recover the lost child that he is without any ringing of a bell. The nature of the occupation of primitive concerns with essentials like building a hut, planting, harvesting beans, fishing and naturalizing, gives each its spiritual quality. “Walden” was Thoreau’s voyage for a reality he had lost, and it was a quest for purity. Purity to Thoreau was a return to the spring of life, to the golden age of his youth and senses. Warden follows the cycle of developing consciousness, a cycle that parallels the change of the seasons.
It was a matter of purification because Thoreau had reached the winter of decay at the time “Walden” was being revised for the press. Thoreau was not a naturalist but a natural historian of the intellect using natural facts as symbols for his quest for inspiration. He said that the natural world reflects ourselves. In this sense, the Walden pond was the symbol. His purpose was not to return to nature, but to combine the hardiness of savages with the intellectualness of the civilized man. The civilized man to Thoreau, is a more experienced and wiser savage; Life is most rewarding when chaneled by intellectual principles.