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Henry David Thoreau Enigmatic naturalist egoist aloof conceited indolent practitioner.

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Presentation on theme: "Henry David Thoreau Enigmatic naturalist egoist aloof conceited indolent practitioner."— Presentation transcript:

1 Henry David Thoreau Enigmatic naturalist egoist aloof conceited indolent practitioner

2 Reflection?

3 Thoreau’s life long theme  “The end of life is education.”  Intent…life is an experiment in self- education.  Experiment in Nature

4  Thoreau gave up conventional life to live at Walden Pond in a “hut”

5 As a naturalist  According to life long friend, Emerson, Thoreau “saw as with a microscope, heard as with ear trumpet, and his memory was photographic register of everything he saw and heard.”

6 As a practitioner  Thoreau tried to live the transcendentalist philosophies  Wanted to put Emerson’s ideas into practice  Rejected his schooling and the expectations that came with it (appeared idle)  Even Emerson claimed at Thoreau’s funeral that he lacked ambition

7  In pursuit of his dreams, of an inner reality, he was the self-reliant nonconformist that Emerson urged all people to be.

8 “If 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.”

9 Clash with society  “Civil Disobedience”  As a protest to Mexican War and slavery, Thoreau refused to pay taxes and, as a result, spent the night in jail  The individual has a moral responsibility to resist immoral acts of the government.

10 Walden  Record of Thoreau’s life (2 years) at Walden Pond condensed into one year  4 seasons as reflection of life –Summer-live more directly with nature; unfinished hut –Autumn-work on walls and fireplace; store up experiences of summer for winter reflection

11 –Winter-read, meditate, practice self-discipline, and transform experience into wisdom –Spring-rebirth; repeated each year

12 Thoreau did not recommend others follow in his footsteps.  Walden can be read as –Social criticism –Inspiration to self-reform –Observations of nature –Hymn to the possibilities of life  Only the individual can say

13 from Where I Lived, and What I Lived For  Thoreau’s method is to move us from small facts to larger truths  An unfinished house lets in wind that blows forever (single, unifying spirit)  Theme of Walden evident here… –“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.”

14  Allusion [Iliad]---”fighting with cranes” means wasting our lives on the trivial and the nonessential  Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity –Life should be lived more simply and closer to nature to gain a better understanding of the “essential facts of life.”  What is the paradox in the last sentence? –A paradox is a statement that reveals a truth although it seems to be self-contradictory and untrue.

15 from Sounds  Learn from nature, not books  Simile---grew like “corn in the night.”

16 Critical Questions from Sounds  How was this growth like corn in the night?  How does Thoreau view idleness?  How do townsmen view it?  Why the reference to Puri Indians and their concept of time?  What did Thoreau learn about his life in “Sounds”?

17 from Brute Neighbors  Ant metaphor –Epic, heroic quality  At the end of this, Thoreau observes that he “never learned which party was victorious, nor the cause of the war…” How is this statement also a comment on human warfare?

18 from The Pond in Winter  Winter a time for reflection  How does Thoreau feel about the fisherman?

19 Spring  How do you feel after a long winter?  How do you know winter is over?  Time for rejuvenation  In the return of the sounds, there is hope (optimism in future)  Rebirth of soul

20 from the Conclusion  Why did he leave Walden Pond?  What are the advantages of poverty?  What is the significance of the “bug” analogy?  Overall, how does Thoreau feel about his experiences at Walden Pond?

21 Style and Purpose of Walden  Shift in styles to reflect Thoreau’s changing purposes.  Short, factual observances when he arrives at Walden Pond on Independence Day (symbolic meaning?)  “Brute Neighbors” uses more metaphor, analogy, and allusion –Slow and deliberate description

22  Opening paragraph of “The Pond in Winter” takes on dream-like state –Longer sentences are reflective –Short sentences for emphasis (ie: Nature doesn’t bother with questions of what-how-when-where) –Pattern: short sentences used at the beginning; longer sentences used as he observes the cold snow and frozen pond short ending sentences

23  From “The Conclusion” –Rather aphoristic in style –Emphasis of his main point about being true to self to be resurrected using parable about the “bug”

24  So what does this mean?

25 And the contradiction is?

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