Henry David Thoreau Discussion Questions: Does Walden appeal to our "sense of rebelliousness and individualism"?
His paternal grandfather had been born on the UK crown dependency island of Jersey.
He began to call himself Henry David after he finished college; he never petitioned to make a legal name change. The house has been restored by the Thoreau Farm Trust,  a nonprofit organization, and is now open to the public.
He studied at Harvard College between and He lived in Hollis Hall and took courses in rhetoricclassics, philosophy, mathematics, and science.
In fact, the master's degree he declined to purchase had no academic merit: Harvard College offered it to graduates "who proved their physical worth by being alive three years after graduating, and their saving, earning, or inheriting quality or condition by having Five Dollars to give the college.
Return to Concord, —[ edit ] The traditional professions open to college graduates—law, the church, business, medicine—did not interest Thoreau, : After he graduated inhe joined the faculty of the Concord public school, but he resigned after a few weeks rather than administer corporal punishment.
The school closed when John became fatally ill from tetanus in after cutting himself while shaving. Emerson urged Thoreau to contribute essays and poems to a quarterly periodical, The Dialand lobbied the editor, Margaret Fuller, to publish those writings.
The first journal entry, on October 22,reads, "'What are you doing now? In his early years he followed Transcendentalisma loose and eclectic idealist philosophy advocated by Emerson, Fuller, and Alcott. They held that an ideal spiritual state transcends, or goes beyond, the physical and empirical, and that one achieves that insight via personal intuition rather than religious doctrine.
In their view, Nature is the outward sign of inward spirit, expressing the "radical correspondence of visible things and human thoughts", as Emerson wrote in Nature For a few months inhe moved to the home of William Emerson on Staten Island and tutored the family's sons while seeking contacts among literary men and journalists in the city who might help publish his writings, including his future literary representative Horace Greeley.
He rediscovered the process of making good pencils with inferior graphite by using clay as the binder. The company's other source of graphite had been Tantiusquesa mine operated by Native Americans in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.
Later, Thoreau converted the pencil factory to produce plumbago, a name for graphite at the time, which was used in the electrotyping process.
In April he and his friend Edward Hoar accidentally set a fire that consumed acres 1. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary.
I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
I see no other alternative, no other hope for you. Thoreau refused because of his opposition to the Mexican—American War and slaveryand he spent a night in jail because of this refusal.
The next day Thoreau was freed when someone, likely to have been his aunt, paid the tax, against his wishes. In January and Februaryhe delivered lectures on "The Rights and Duties of the Individual in relation to Government",  explaining his tax resistance at the Concord Lyceum.
Bronson Alcott attended the lecture, writing in his journal on January Heard Thoreau's lecture before the Lyceum on the relation of the individual to the State—an admirable statement of the rights of the individual to self-government, and an attentive audience.
His allusions to the Mexican War, to Mr. Hoar 's expulsion from Carolina, his own imprisonment in Concord Jail for refusal to pay his tax, Mr. Hoar's payment of mine when taken to prison for a similar refusal, were all pertinent, well considered, and reasoned.
I took great pleasure in this deed of Thoreau's. Thoreau had taken up a version of Percy Shelley 's principle in the political poem " The Mask of Anarchy "which begins with the powerful images of the unjust forms of authority of his time and then imagines the stirrings of a radically new form of social action.
Thoreau did not find a publisher for the book and instead printed 1, copies at his own expense; fewer than were sold. Thoreau left Walden Pond on September 6, The book compresses that time into a single calendar year, using the passage of the four seasons to symbolize human development.
Part memoir and part spiritual quest, Walden at first won few admirers, but later critics have regarded it as a classic American work that explores natural simplicity, harmony, and beauty as models for just social and cultural conditions.
Inhe and his family moved into a house at Main Streetwhere he lived until his death. These would be Thoreau's only travels outside the United States. He jested that all he got from this adventure "was a cold.1. Why do you think that Thoreau is considered not merely a great American writer, but also a great American?
2. Describe Thoreau's personality. Is he an outcast? An introvert? Antisocial? How does Thoreau's personality match his ideas concerning humankind's relationship with nature? 3. Is Thoreau wrong in not paying. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources.
Henry David Thoreau This Study Guide consists of approximately 72 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Walden.
Walden, in fullWalden; or, Life in the Woods, series of 18 essays by Henry David Thoreau, published in An important contribution to New England Transcendentalism, the book was a record of Thoreau’s experiment in simple living on the northern shore of Walden Pond in eastern Massachusetts (–47).
Dec 19, · In Walden, Thoreau said, “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Although, many people throughout the world continue to live in poor conditions, .
Walden is a key work of American Romanticism because of its embedded ideas of solitude, individualism, pantheism and intuition. Romanticism seeks nature as a means for obtaining knowledge, and while Thoreau heavily spends his time in the woods and around the pond by himself, he inevitably feels a sense of solitude.