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Comparing Emerson and Thoreau - Essay Example

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Emerson begun the transcendentalist thought by urging people to seek solitude to be attuned with their own self. Emerson urges to be your own genius, that is, “to believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men” and not to fall prey to the coercion of society to conform, which according to Emerson is the “hobgoblin of little minds” that conspires against the manhood of every one of its members'' (Emerson, ___). This can be accomplished by freeing oneself from living a “simple lifestyle” that is devoid from the trappings which the society impose. For Thoreau in his Economy book Walden, he clearly defined simplicity as by reducing his desire. Thus, in his Walden Pond experiment, he embarked on his social experiment that would give him a clearer insight about life and appreciate the experience of existence better through a grounded living. To paraphrase Thoreau in his intent to live in the woods of Concored; "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 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". In essence, Thoreau argued that by living simply, he was able to “suck out all the marrow of life” because he is able to appreciate it more in the pastoral solitude of the woods. In its serenity, he is able to appreciate his profound existence. Its benefit, as he puts forth, is actually the advantage of owning more than those who are enslaved to work and those who subscribe to society’s fashion and mortgage for he already owns his own house, albeit modest. He produces more than he consumes. But more than the advantage of self-reliance that is facilitated by adopting a simple lifestyle is the internal independence that an individual acquires where the external world is dependent for its external manifestation. The explanation and paths towards simplicity may vary in approach with these two philosophers. Thoreau may have delved in the economics by of living simply but in the end, Thoreau reunited with his mentor in his thought by stressing Emerson’s non-conformity in the final chapter of his book Walden concluding as “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”. Walden and Thoreau may have delivered a minimalist message in their works Self Reliance and Walden but they are in no way can be considered a nominal literature because they were written in a language that characterizes precision, loft and insight conjured by a mind ...Show more
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Summary

Name Class Professor Date Discuss the philosophical importance of Thoreau’s social experiment of living at Walden Pond by focusing on its “simple” lifestyle as a form of Emersonian self-reliance. Henry David Thoreau’s social experiment of living at Walden Pond by focusing on the simple lifestyle was actually in consonance and putting into practice the earlier writing of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-reliance” who was also Thoreau’s teacher and role model…
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