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A Comparison of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Beliefs

Uploaded by Keloreg on May 17, 2000

A Comparison of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Beliefs concerning Simplicity, the Value and Potential of Our Soul, and Our Imagination. Henry David Thoreau tests Ralph Waldo Emerson’s ideas about nature by living at Walden Pond, where he discovers that simplicity in physical aspects brings deepness to our mind, our soul to its fullest potential, and our imagination to be uplifted to change our lives. These two men believe that nature is what forces us not to depend on others’ ideas but to develop our own. Nature is ever changing so we must keep searching for explanations about human life. They feel that nature is the key to knowing all. Thoreau lives at Walden Pond to find the true meaning of life. He wants to experience things for himself. Thoreau says, "I wanted...to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion" (Thoreau 235). He takes Emerson’s advice who says, "Let us demand our own works and laws and worship" (Emerson 215). Emerson tells how modern generations live life vicariously through the stories and traditions foretold. We do not experience things for ourselves. We take what our ancestors and others before us have said and do not think twice about whether we should try things for ourselves. Emerson decides not to conform to modern ways, but to be an individual. Furthermore, in Nature, Emerson says, "Standing on the bare ground - my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space - all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball" (Emerson 215). Here, he is saying that being in such a simple environment he is able to see things more clearly. He has deeper thoughts. Like Emerson, Thoreau also wanted to live a simple life, in order to find deeper meaning in life. Thoreau says, "I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartanlike as to put to rout all that was not life, ... and reduce it to its lowest terms" (Thoreau 235). Thoreau also says, "We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us" (Thoreau 237). This means that some things which we believe make our lives simpler actually make it more complicated. Both Emerson and Thoreau believe that in order to find deep meaning in life, you must live simply. In addition to living simply,...

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Uploaded by:   Keloreg

Date:   05/17/2000

Category:   Literature

Length:   3 pages (748 words)

Views:   6437

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