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Henry David Thoreau Essay Topics & Paper Examples

Henry David Thoreau Quotes

“Things do not change; we change.” It means that items and ideas, even nature itself dosen’t change are perception of it does. A forest can be nice to look at in the daylight then at night all alone it become scary to you. As for a picture you could do a gun where its used by a cop and a criminal.Or a group of people listing to a concert some will like it some will hate it but the music is the same. Perception is reality, and perception can change. “Go confidently in the direction if your dreams. Live the life you imagined.” The true meaning of life is found only through one’s happiness. Life can have over a million…

Comparing Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King on Unjust Laws

In today’s society, it is often unclear where to draw the line between good morals and effective government. It is for this reason that many times, laws that are enacted for the “good of the people” can be in direct conflict with a person’s conscience. Due to the various struggles that the United States has faced in building a government, this topic has been a popular discussion throughout American literature. Although they did not live during the same time, American writers Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, Jr. ach wrote about how a person should not follow laws that they believe to be immoral. Thoreau’s main concern pertained to the legal existence of slaves and slave-owners, and a century…

Civil Disobedience and Antigone

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech focuses on the importance of freedom and brotherhood in a nation and is intended to rally Americans to demonstrate their anger at the injustices of segregation and racism through “creative protest.” While King’s passion and anger at the status quo is obvious in the text, he specifically states that they “must not allow [their] [protest] to degenerate into physical violence.” He is pushing for defiance against the government. Antigone exhibits the same kind of defiance when she goes against Creon’s law and completes her brother’s burial rites. Antigone, like Martin Luther King Jr., was faced with conflicting obligations; the obligation of a citizen to follow the law, and personal obligation to…

Henry David Thoreau: a Philosophical Reflection

Henry David Thoreau was an inexhaustible writer that encompassed poetry and philosophy within his narratives and created a style of writing that, for his time, was difficult to define and categorize. Because of this his works were often overlooked for the genius that was held within them as writers of his time had already begun to stray from the traditional stances of philosophy. However, one can easily survey the works of Henry David Thoreau and do so with an immense amount of appreciation for his keen ability to contemplate and delve into the varied psyches and perspectives that man holds. And despite the difficulties in categorization it cannot be denied that Thoreau’s works were powerful and filled with brilliance. Thoreau…

The essay is about Transcendental themes in the movie “Dead Poets Society.”

The movie “The Dead Poets Society” is about a group of private school boys in the North East. They encounter a teacher, Mr. Keating, whom is a little different than most teachers. He wanted to instill the motivation to look past what society was telling them to do rather than teach the normal curriculum. He used Thoreau’s ideas on transcendentalism by showing them to transcend or go beyond the rules that society poses and create their own independence. Mr. Keating succeeded in his efforts by teaching them to think for themselves. Director Peter Weir illustrates that the movie “Dead Poet’s Society” echoes Transcendentalist notions in content in that self-reliance and individualism must outweigh external authority and blind conformity to custom…

Concord – Massachusetts

Although the transcendentalism movement was an extremely long time ago the ideas are still pertinent today. When Henry David Thoreau said, “Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. It is not important that he should mature as soon as an apple tree or an oak”(247), that he would be telling people to be themselves many generations later. The transcendentalism movement took place during the early 1800’s when America was developing its own writing style. The authors of the time all thought in the same wavelength. Some of them, such as Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson belonged to a transcendentalism club in which they shared their ideas. Thoreau had ideas that he firmly believed…

The Influences of Transcendentalism and Beyond

The Transcendentalist movement occurred over 150 years ago but the philosophies that its’ leaders preached affect our world to this day. Transcendentalists such as Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson have had a profound effect on such historical figures as Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi to Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan. A thorough understanding of Transcendentalist dogma is necessary if you want to fully comprehend 20th century history. The Transcendentalist movement originated in Concord, Massachusetts during the middle part of the 17th century; the group was formed by prominent intellectuals including George Putnam, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fredrick Henry Hedge, Orestes Brownson, Margaret Fuller, and Henry David Thoreau. (vcu. edu/engweb/transcendentalism/) Emerson’s publication of the essay “Nature” in 1836 is…

Transcendentalism: the Rebellion

Transcendentalism, as defined by Dictionary. com, is “any philosophy based upon the doctrine that the principles of reality are to be discovered by the study of the processes of thought, or a philosophy emphasizing the intuitive and spiritual above the empirical? ” (Transcendentalism). This new philosophy created a rebellion and turn away from the traditional religions in the United States. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are two primary authors and promoters of Transcendentalism. In this paper I will be focusing on Emerson’s Nature and Thoreau’s Walden, or Life in the Woods, from now on to be referred to as simply Walden, to show the rebellion against religion and the quest to know one’s self through a different way….

Thoreau and Transcendentalism

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden is an anthem to transcendentalism. Among the transcendentalists’ core beliefs was the inherent goodness of both people and nature. Transcendentalists believed that society and its institutions—particularly religion and politics—corrupted the purity of the individual. They believed that people were at their best when they were self-reliant. The central recurring theme that emerges in transcendentalism is a return to nature. Thoreau sets out for Walden Pond to observe, learn, and explore, indicative of his transcendentalist beliefs. In Walden, Thoreau explains his convictions of transcendentalism through his imagery of nature and appreciation of Nature’s sounds, especially in the climactic seventeenth chapter, “Spring”. Thoreau discovers that one nice thing about living in the woods “was that [he] should have…

Walden and Transcendentalism

Henry Thoreau’s masterpiece, Walden or a Life in the Woods, shows the impact transcendentalism had on Thoreau’s worldview. Transcendentalism is a philosophy that asserts the primacy of the spiritual over the material. Transcendentalism puts the emphasis on spiritual growth and understanding as opposed to worldly pleasures. Thoreau’s idea of transcendentalism stressed the importance of nature and being close to nature. He believed that nature was a metaphor for spiritual enlightenment. A walk in the woods therefore was a search for spiritual enlightenment. One should look ‘through’ nature, not merely ‘at’ her. In Walden, Thoreau’s idea of transcendentalism is broken into three areas. The first is the importance of the spiritual world as opposed to material wants. He accentuates this idea…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Those who think Transcendentalism is just a literary movement that took place in the early 1800s are only half correct. Transcendentalism is indeed a literary movement; however, it is much more than that. It is meant to challenge people to think for themselves and cause change. Authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee taught the importance of non-conformity and civil disobedience through short stories such as “Self Reliance” and “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”, and the play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail. Transcendentalism is based on the belief that knowledge is derived from experience and personal reflection as opposed to reason. Transcendentalism promotes self-revelation because it encourages people to form…

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The recent announcement by the government to declare Telengana as the 29th state with 10 districts and Hyderabad as a common Capital has opened a Pandora’s Box of similar clamors. Many groups have stepped up their game demanding for their own statehood. The government will have to ponder many factors before redrawing boundaries and splitting up states. ‘Nationalism’ has always remained the most controversial creed in the political theory. It cannot be merely defined as the casual association of people within a territory. It is the sharing of some popular beliefs, ascribing a common political identity to its entire people and sharing a common history. In this context the internal outcries for separate statehood cannot be ignored prima facie. Also…

Henry David Thoreau

“Simplify! was Thoreau’s motto” in his life (Stanley 20). He showed people how to live simple life by living a simple life in Walden. Due to Thoreau’s efforts and works on nature people considers a nature an important part in their lives, as a result nature became one of the top topics in 21st century. Henry David Thoreau was born on July 12, 1817, in Concord, Massachusetts (Meltzer 11). His parents were John Thoreau and Cynthia Dunbar Thoreau (12). Henry had three siblings named Helen, John Jr. and Sophia (12). The Thoreau family continuously moved to different places in search for better living conditions (11). Henry’s father John had difficulties finding a job (13). He eventually started a very famous…

Religion and Individualism

Different countries have different cultures, traditions and values. They represent the image of the nation, people’s mentality, how they think and behave, and what they strive for and struggle for. With the help of them we judge of what is important in life of a person, of a nation, of a country. America is not an exception. Despite the great number of various ethnic groups that inhabit United States, there are things that unite all the people. Among them are such values like freedom and independence that entirely characterize America. The American founding fathers felt that this concept was of utmost importance when they were deciding what the United States Of America would be and how it would function. In…

Civil Disobedience

Civil Disobedience is the act of disobeying authority but in a legal and civilized manner. It was introduced by writer Henry David Thoreau in his work named “Civil Disobedience. ”This legal and orderly method of rebelling is often used in hope that a change will be made such as an unjust law. Many people often wonder whether Civil Disobedience still holds true in the day and age. Everyday civil disobedience is used. Whether it is aginst the governmentBack in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, many civil rights leaders and other men and women, young old have demonstrated notable acts of Civil Disobedience, which have changed many unjust laws and treatment. For example, during the 1950s and 60s, blacks…

Henry Thoreau/ Hitler

Henry David Thoreau once stated in Civil Disobedience “I was not born to be forced. Let us see who is the strongest. What force had multitude? Thoreau, the father of Transcendentalism, would have never predicted the events that would take place because of Hitler, nearly a century later, the way Hitler took what he wanted and did not care what people he affected. Both Hitler and Thoreau have one thing in common, they are willing to fight for what they believe, but how they differ is their methods. If Adolf Hitler and Henry Thoreau had worked together, Thoreau’s beliefs in Civil disobedience and individuality through simplicity would have transformed the way that Hitler used totalitarism methods during his reign as…

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) was an American writer and philosopher famous for his naturalistic and anarchical ideas as well as his adherence to the movement of transcendentalism. Thoreau was a vegetarian, actively stood against slavery and war, and was one of the first who supported Darwin’s theory of evolution. Among his many works, the best known are his essay, Civil Disobedience, a proclamation against injustice and an urge for individual opposition to civil government, and the book ‘Walden’, where Thoreau’s reflects his personal experience of living simple life in natural environment. Although these works, like many others of Thoreau, are considered ‘transcendental’ and had been published ages ago, the ideas and concepts they contain may still at some…

Henry David Thoreau, Less is More, and Fenway Park

Henry David Thoreau, one of America’s most well-known New Englanders, would most probably be disappointed with recent proposals to dismantle Fenway Park in order to construct a more profitable baseball park. The past two decades have witnessed a pervasive sports trend in which professional sports franchises have sought to maximize revenues by abandoning or tearing down old stadiums in order to construct modern stadiums that incorporate a variety of other income-generating facilities into the larger sports stadium design. In Toronto, for instance, hotels and department stores have been attached to the baseball stadium in order for the owners of the Toronto Blue Jays to generate more profits through the creation of hotel and shopping markets. In the Bronx, to take…

Henry David Thoreau and Resistance to Civil Government

Henry David Thoreau was the most active participant in the Transcendentalist movement. He was a student and mentee of Ralph Waldo Emerson. While Emerson had transcendental ideas, Thoreau would act on them and fully practice them. Hence, he felt that he and others should resist America’s Civil Government. I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. (Thoreau) Thoreau starts out his famous essay with the statement that government should be weak and the people strong. He was a strong advocate of the individual the rights of the individual. To him, a person should be self reliant, as Emerson taught. He felt that…

Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr

There is no doubt that there are many similarities between Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry Thoreau though they did not live in the same century. King himself declared that he was greatly influenced by Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedient. The two civil right activists had similar ideas on justice in the society. It is also believed that Thoreau’s work was also influenced by Ralph Emerson who initiated the thoughts about transcendentalism in him. Although some people believe that King was more influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian leader, it is important to note that the ideas of Gandhi were based on the ideas put forward by Thoreau. Moreover, King stated that while in college, he read Thoreau’s essay…

Henry David Thoreau and His Contribution to Transcendentalism

Henry David Thoreau, a French descendant, was born in 1817 in Concord, Massachusetts; a graduate of Harvard College with no literary distinction. Throughout his life he executed a very strong Saxon genius, as his ancestors had been known. As an ordinary young man, he began to work for a living. After his graduation, he joined his brother in teaching in a private school, which he stayed for a while. He later left to enter into manufacturing work – making a different and better pencil. He was successful in his business but refused doing the same thing. He went back to school to teach and deliver lectures; became a private tutor to children of prominent families. He got employment, yet his…

Civil Disobedience Essay: King and Thoreau

Civil disobedience is a force needed to purify the condemnation of injustices within a society. Civil disobedience can be defined as the refusal to comply with certain laws as a peaceful form of political protest. Such protests are needed when the rights of citizens are being violated and their voices are being unheard. Thoreau’s ideas were becoming heavily common as they were being used by Civil Rights Activists. These ideas which these activists used greatly affected the way our government now functions today. What if such actions did not take place and only the voices of inequality were heard? Would we not still remain in a society of injustice? ((Rhetorical question)) Civil disobedience – this form of political protest –…

To Think for Yourself

Henry David Thoreau’s, Walden, is a novel focused completely around the idea of self-reliance. In the novel, Thoreau goes even more in depth into this idea, focusing a passage on the specific idea of experiencing your life solely for yourself, not through the ideas or beliefs of anyone else. He states, “No way of thinking or doing, however ancient, can be trusted without proof”(1616). He fully believes that a person cannot live their life based on hear say. He believes that if you have not seen or experienced something yourself to prove that it is indeed true, you are living your life based on false pretenses missing out on not only some of the greatest aspects of life, but of…

Self-Reliance and transcendentalism

Many people in our world are often trying to be self-reliant; trying to make it on their own and be original in thought and true to themselves. Many of those people end up conforming and doing what has been done in the past. They end up walking down the worn out path that so many have walked before. However, a famous writer named Ralph Waldo Emerson believed that you need to venture off the main path and explore new ideas if you truly want to be great. Emerson was one of the most famous examples of a transcendentalist. Transcendentalists were basically Idealists, but in a more practical sense. They believed that all people should strive to reach their goals and…

Martin Luther King Jr’s “A Time to Break Silence”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jrs essay A Time to Break Silence was a small but significant piece of his life and career as a minister, Nobel Peace Prize winner, husband, father, civil rights activist, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and an important historical figure for future generations. In this essay, Dr. King discusses why the Vietnam War is important to him. He starts with his first reason, is that he felt like the military had given a promise of hope to the poor, when the government didnt really have the funds or intentions to fulfill their dreams. He felt that the war was almost like an attack on the poor, because it lured them to their death, in…

Martin King and Henry Thoreau

Martin King and Henry Thoreau both write persuasive expositions that oppose majority ideals and justify their own causes. While this similarity is clear, the two essays, “Letters from Birmingham Jail” by King and “Civil Disobedience” by Thoreau, do have their fair share of differences. Primarily in the causes themselves, as King persuades white, southern clergy men that segregation is an evil, unjust law that should be defeated through the agitation of direct protesting, and Thoreau, writing to a more broad, non addressed audience, and focusing more on the government itself, contends that at its present state, with the war with Mexico and the institution of slavery, that one should do as he does and refuse to pay government taxes that…

Views of transcendentalism versus puritanism

The Puritans see God as mysteriously involved in the acts of the universe, whereas the transcendentalists think God is connected to mankind through nature and intuition. The outlook on Puritan writing is that their style tends to be plain and introspective. Transcendentalist writing shows how nature and feelings are triumphant over logic and rationality. In contrast to the plain style of Puritan writing, Jonathan Edwards frequently strikes his audience with powerful words in his literature. He exemplifies this style in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” but still shows the lowliness of human beings in relation to God’s power, another Puritan trait. In transcendentalist writing, the spiritual and ideal worlds are revealed through the physical facts of the…

Martin Luther King and Henry DavidThoreau

However with different motives; Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Henry David Thoreau were both admirable men that strived for a better government. As respected spokesmen they served as rebels against what they thought to be bad one’s stopping at nothing. Not even jail. Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. were both brilliant men. Thoreau’s “Civil Obedience” and Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” are perfect examples of their intellect. Looking at these documents and observing the tactics they use while attempting to move their audience toward their ultimate goal, one can see the finesse that both men possessed. Thoreau and Dr. King lived during two different centuries. So being that they were vocalist and activist on the…

Henry David Thoreau – “Why I Went to the Woods”

This excerpt is from his famous essay, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”. First, some background; in 1842, his brother John died of lockjaw. Three years later, Henry decided to write a book commemorating a canoe trip he had taken with John in 1839. Seeking a quiet place to write, he followed a friend’s suggestion and built a small cabin on the north shore of Walden Pond on a piece of land owned by his friend and mentor, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He started work on his cabin in March of 1845. On the 4th of July, he moved in. Thus began one of the great and lasting experiments in life and thought of the whole of human experience. “I went…

Transcendentalism in modern-day society

Some aspects of Transcendentalism can be applied in today’s society, while others have lost their relevance due to the changes of social and economic conditions since the time of Thoreau. The Transcendentalists’ goal was to create a Utopia in America. They believed in a society without rules in which you would be free to do whatever you wanted as long as it did not infringe on the freedom or well-being of others. The concept of what is a Utopia is different for every person. In today’s densely populated countries it appears almost impossible to do anything that does not affect or infringe upon someone else. The Transcendentalists also believed in the Jeffersonian philosophy that each generation should only be concerned…