Who is Henry David Thoreau? Why is his name blundered all over books, journals and blogspots on the World Wide Web? To answer this question entails brief reconnaissance of how he treats his life and how his astounding philosophical views change the “outlook” of the American life back then and how his ideas influenced the human mind machinations up until now. Henry David Thoreau also known as Henry Thoreau David) was born in Concord, Massachusetts in July 12, 1817 and died at the same place in May 6, 1862, at a considerably young age of 44 .
He was birthed to John Thoreau and Cynthia Dunbar and was said to be named after his uncle. He was the youngest of the three siblings. Currently, his birthplace is developed as a historical landmark in the area. He studied at the famous Harvard University between the years 1833 to 1837. Henry David Thoreau was considered a transcendentalist, philosopher, a creative artist, a scientific originator, anti-slavery activist, a poet, a teacher, a philosopher and a thinker . His intellectual career and philosophical meanderings began in the town where he was birthed.
In the year 1835 he became an educator in Massachussets; after his graduation rites he taught at an academy in Concord but his disputes with the administration and the refusal to administer corporal punishment to the students, forced him to erect a grammar school. He befriended Concord resident Ralph Waldo Emerson and author of “Nature”, who introduced him to the local literary circle. It was probably his constant meetings with the outspoken literary crowd that incited his zest for writing and had led to the stimulation of his political and social opinions. He was a regular contributor of essays (e. g.
Natural History of Massachusetts) and poems (Prayer, The Moon, Smoke, Conscience, Rumors from Aeolian Harp, Low Anchored Cloud, Let Such Pure Hate Still Underprop, My Life Has Been the Poem, Friendship, I knew a Man By Sight, Epithaph on the World, Indeed, Indeed I Cannot Tell, On Fields O’re Which The Reaper’s Hands Has Passed, Pray To What Earth, They Who prepare My Evening Meal below, What’s Railroad To Me, Within the Circuit of This Plodding life and Inspiration) to the local quarterly periodical. His barrage of poems did not reach the current popularity of Robert Brown but his journals were a different matter.
What is most outstanding of about his multivolume journal (1837) was that he maintained it till the rest of his life. His journals were reflective of his works and it was refurbished by the author himself and was considered as good as a literary work. One could say that the journal was a library of Thoreau. Every time he attempts to work on a literary piece, he would always refer to his journals. He lived most of his life as a pencil-maker, tutor and land surveyor. He never married hence there was a current speculation on his sexuality but he was said to have been in love twice in his life time.
His poem “Friendship” may leave a very different meaning or subtextual message to the contemporary critics. In 1845, he practiced self-imposed isolation in a self-structured house at Walden Pond, at the outskirts of Concord town, for duration of two years as a form of social experimentation. His solo house was ten feet wide and ten feet long. This period of his life was heightened by his famous imprisonment in July 23, 1846 in the local county jail because he refused to pay the taxes as a tactic for civil disobedience.
Unfortunately his plan did not work out and he was released immediately since his relative, more specifically, his aunt paid for all his taxes. His plan may have backfired but his intentions were well broadcasted into the community. His series of tax evasions were famous for his adjunct, “Beware of the enterprises, who wear new clothes. ” The experimental period in the Walden Pond conveyed a lot to his developmental inquiry on many aspects of life. Politics and the idea of tax imposition were to be an important issue and he advocated for a scandalous concept of self governance in his essay, Resistance to Self- Governance (1849).
The essay is a critique precluding to the former state of American governance, conscience, and constitution . Before the essay was published a much vocal speech with the same content was delivered at the Concord Meeting Hall. In his juicy speech, he elaborated much on his jail experiences. Thoreau said that his jail night was a novel a very interesting experience. The scandal of jail may have actually catch the attention of his local townsfolk at that time and his speech combined with plight for civil disobedience may have been an inspiration for them.
Thoreau made a passionate appeal for justice and individualism and as well as democratic abuse and tax impositions. The essay’s popularity was not that extensive back then but its’ ingenuity will be proclaimed years later by activists Mahatma Gandhi (India) and Martin Luther King during their call for action towards freedom. Perhaps the essay has contributed to the success of the cause of the two nationalists. Was Thoreau’s fight for democracy of passive type? In his later years, Thoreau would also applaud for force or violence as a necessary act in eradicating injustice.
Thoreau also wrote a book justifying the cause of the native Blacks? Slavery in Massachusetts. Concord was then the hubbub of reformation activity. Thoreau reacted strongly to racial segregation of the Afro-American Nationals. The integrated abolitionist movement in Boston campaigned by the Anti-Slavery society was favored by Thoreau so in view of the events he constructed the book which aimed to fight for emancipation and abolish racial discrimination. Some would say that the book was a deliberate act of inciting rebellion on the Black community so that they would deliberately and immediately act against the anarchy.
At the Pond, he was able to finish A Week on Concord and Merrimack Rivers, an elegy or compositions pertaining to death for his brother John, who died in 1841 from infection of tetanus. The book failed to catch public appeal. It was much later in 1854 when Thoreau’s hardship bore fruit. The book that was to be his masterpiece and that would mark the several generations to come was published? Walden. The book tells of his two years, two months and two days which he had spent at Walden Pond. Walden so far is the most critically appraised book in literature so far.
It is actually a memoir that dangles on the self-examination and self-realization and his dictums ought to be called philosophical genius . Another important issue that is currently raised today, in connection with the aesthetic values suggested by Walden is “vegetarianism”. Walden encourages the benefit of vegetarianism as oppose to carnivorism. His distaste to carnivorism stem from the fact he considers it unclean and is a form of life “murder”. His idea of vegetarianism is the highly popular for the contemporary vegetarians.
Although he may have failed to explain it within the works of science as explained by the healthiness of the veggies as due to the presence of “cellulose fibrils” and “unsaturated fats”, his philosophy on “killing life” had really influenced the lifestyle of others. “Truth value” evaluated in Walden seeks higher meaning by forming an intimate connection with nature. In the second chapter, Thoreau wrote ? “we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us…” The different view of transcendentalism as the highest form of insight was perpetuated by Thoreau.
He believes that intuition cannot be achieved through religion but rather as intuition through migration of the soul/spirit pass the metaphysical barriers. In his later years, he became an enthusiastic ecologist / naturalist , a scientist and land surveyor. This combined with his travels and the ability to observe everything with the methodological eye of an objectivist lead him to his nature-themed works, Autumnal Tints, Wild Apples, Cape Cod, and Maine Woods. Although it was not plainly stated in textbooks, he was one of the pioneers of the scientific method.
The observation, formulation of hypothesis and the experimentation of hypothesis and conclusion were stepwise rules he followed during his casual observation of nature. In 1859, he defended abolitionist Captain John Brown in his speech A Plea for Captain John Brown and defended the character’s actions on his raid of Harper’s Ferry. He obviously defended John on the line? “I do not believe in erecting statues to those who still live in our hearts, whose bones have not yet crumbled in the earth around us, but I would rather see the statue of Captain Brown in the Massachusetts State-House yard, than that of any other man whom I know.
I rejoice that I live in this age, that I am his contemporary. ” The locality who jeered at the acts of Captain Brown became amicable towards him after the public announcement of Thoreau. In due deference, the Thoreau’s approval acted like a catalyst in the recruit of new abolitionists. The speech on Captain Brown was reflective of Thoreau’s support for freedom, more specifically that of anti-slavery . John Brown later became one of the primary instigators of the civil war. If it were not for Thoreau, he would not be one of the war icons admired by everyone today.
During his last years, he spent most of his life at the pencil factory; the exposure to lead and graphite worsened his tuberculosis. This led to his death in 1862. It was said that before his death, Thoreau was revising his unpublished works The Excursion and the Maine and what was really noted was that, even at his last breath he was still jutting down notes on his multivolume journal. Death does not end the works of a person though. In fact, after his death, Henry David Thoreau became more famous. He is, by far, the most celebrated American author and his memory is upholded by the Thoreau society.
Many of his possessions and belongings are still found at the Concord Museum. A local institute was named after him (Thoreau Institute). With the prevalence of web technology today, the Thoreans made the Thoreau Server and American Transcendentalism, webpage containing the annotated works and criticisms of and to the celebrated author. There are even blogspots for his works on the web. Henry David Thoreau is a literary icon through and through. He is famous because his influences transcend time; his works bear social and political impact during his years and is currently, the mantra of the American literary genre.
Works Cited Bode, C. Collected Poems of Henry Thoreau. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1965. Conrad,R. 2007. “Henry David Thoreau: Who Was He and Why He Matters” Thoreau Reader. 24 Nov 2007. <http://thoreau. eserver. org/whowhy. html> “Henry David Thoreau”. Grolier Academic Encyclopedia. 1989. “Henry David Thoreau”. New World Encyclopedia. 2000. Meltzer, Milton, and Walter Harding. A Thoreau Pro? le. 1962 Moldenhauer, J. (ed. ) Early Essays and Miscellanies. Princeton: UP, 1975. Taylor, B. “Henry Thoreau, Nature, and American Democracy. ” Journal of Social Philosophy. 25 (1994): 46-64. Norton, B.
“Pragmatism, Adaptive Management, and Sustainability,” Environmental Values, 8 (1999): 51-466. Walls, L. Seeing New Worlds: Henry David Thoreau and Nineteenth-Century Natural Science. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1995. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2005. “Henry David Thoreau. ” 24 Nov 2007. <http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/thoreau/>. Thoreau Biography 1. Summary of major points in his life 1. 1 birth date and place and death 1. 2 family 1. 3education 2. Beginnings 2. 1 local educator/teacher 2. 1friendship with Emerson 2. 3 introduction to literary circle 3. Progressions 3.
1 contributions to the local paper 3. 2 multi-volume journal 4. Enlightenment 4. 1 Walden Pond 4. 2 Resistance to Self-Governance 4. 3 Walden 4. 4 A Plea For Captain John Brown 5. Current Status in Literature I. THREE QUOTES It is never too late to give up your prejudices Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison What old people say you cannot do, you try and find that you can. Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new. II. SUMMARY OF FOUR WORKS Civil Disobedience. The essay criticizes the American government and system of governance.
He queries on the rivalry between the “Union and the State” and to the measure of patriotism. It also tackles Thoreau’s stand on individualism. Justice is put at ground here and the act of conscience, a tool for remedy? Conscience or more likely the guilt over the state of affairs at the time back then and the call for immediacy of actions are important concepts in the essay. Individualism is seen as progression to the much sought-after democracy. The Constitution is questioned for its inclination towards slavery. His view in tax imposition is reflected here. A Plea For Captain John Brown Captain John Brown’s action ?
his raid at Harpers’ Ferry, was heartily defended by Thoreau. The speech is actual criticism of the townsfolk’s immediate reaction to Brown. The speech’ persuasiveness to the side of Brown and Thoreau’s pull and philosophy towards democracy is mirrored here. Slavery in Massachusetts Massachusetts condones slavery, an economic trade, strongly opposed by the author. He rips apart the idea of slavery and points out the flaws and how it eats the democratic system the State is trying very hard to achieve. The “Blacks” as a property is injustice and due freedom should be afforded to them.
Call for action is heavily implicated here. Walden. Thoreau’s social experimentation in the Walden Woods and his reflections, insights, and philosophical meanderings is demonstrated here. Human development is comparable to seasons reflective of the environment. His aesthetic view on life, his inclination towards the idea of simplicity and honesty combined with eco-centrism mirrors author’s enlightenment. The book is a philosophical memoir and embodies the very essence of wisdom. Transcendentalism is a major philosophy if one seeks pure enlightenment. III. PARAPHRASE OF FOUR SENTENCES (A Plea for Captain John Brown)
“Know all men by these presents, that I, Henry Thoreau, do not wish to be regarded as a member of any incorporated society which I have not joined”? The line pertains to Henry David Thoreau’s distaste for hypocrisy. His refusal to pay the taxes imposed by the local government of Massachusetts is an act of rebel against the injustice and the system of governance which condones slavery. He does not want to subjugate himself as a member of something his philosophical views are so disinclined against. Truth is always in harmony with herself, and is not concerned chiefly to reveal the justice that may consist with wrong-doing.?
To what the author pertains here is to the absolute value of truth. When justice no longer prevails, the last resort is the finding and pointing to plain truth, a fact that does not always conform to the constitutional defects. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. ? Abuse is possible and plausible in a government consist of humans and who by greed and lost of insight can actually lead to power abuse.
To mediate this, power should be controlled and regulated by the constitution and by the call of people. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. ? Expression of the fair needs of each individual and as a whole and their right to demand for justice where it is fit are necessary prerequisites for obtaining fair governance. Necessary contact between the people and the government and amending as to what is fit can improve the system of governance. Works Cited I. Three Quotations “Quotations by Author. ” 2007. Quotation Page.
24 Nov 2007 <http://www. quotationspage. com/quotes/Henry_David_Thoreau> II. Summary of Four Works “Civil Disobedience. ” 2 Feb 2007. The Thoreau Reader. 24 Nov 2007 <http://thoreau. eserver. org/>. “A Plea For Captain John Brown. ” 2 Feb 2007. The Thoreau Reader. 24 Nov 2007 <http://thoreau. eserver. org/>. “Slavery in Massachusetts. ” 2 Feb 2007. The Thoreau Reader. 24 Nov 2007 <http://thoreau. eserver. org/>. “Walden. ” 2 Feb 2007. The Thoreau Reader. 24 Nov 2007 <http://thoreau. eserver. org/>. III. Paraphrase of Four Sentences “A Plea For Captain John Brown. ” 2 Feb 2007. The Thoreau Reader. 24 Nov 2007