How to Live Life as Shown in the Walden Experiment by Henry David Thoreau

For Henry David Thoreau, nature is much more than just the ”great outdoors.” At the time, Thoreau was thought of as an extremist, and to some extent he still is. He interpreted nature differently from anyone else that came before him. During Thoreau’s lifetime, the industrialism revolution was just starting to die out. Factories, railroads. and other technological inventions are just some of the new things to come in within this time period. These innovations were starting to tame nature, which thoreau disliked.

He wanted raw nature, untouched by mankind and the inventions that come along. In a society with an overwhelming amount luxury, thoreau encourages the reader to seek out an awakening, using nature as a tool to aid this process.

Thoreau sees society and the American lifestyle as bleak, due to the fact that man has become obsessed with success and materialistic pleasures. As the Walden Experiment progressed Thoreau started to notice how man could live without these luxuries.

This idea arises in Thoreau because of the fact he is living off of the “necessities” and nothing else. The reader sees that it is indeed possible to live off the necessities when Thoreau displays the financial record of his time at Walden months-$2 00/ In all-$61 99 3A” (49). Through Thoreau’s close examination of his finances, the reader sees that living like him is not only spiritually uplifting, but also very economic. The luxuries that have become such a big part of our life are corrupting us and ultimately making man unhappy.

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Thoreau is angered with society, but hopes to guide them in the right direction.

He explains how luxuries affect us when he says, ”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”. There is a big difference between needing and wanting. Thoreau is saying that our desires are unnecessary and that once our needs are met we will be able to think clearly, create, and evaluate. Thoreau explains that “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation…but it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things”. In search of wealth people wastes away their lives at a job they do not even like. They follow society’s expectations and end up living a ”desperate” life. Thoreau suggests that we take a step back, wake up, and ask who we are as individuals and what we live for. Thoreau advises that we spend time in solitude in order to have an awakening. This solitude may not necessarily be when one is alone for thoreau says; “Solitude is not measured by the miles of space that intervene between a man and his fellows”  However, he encourages the reader to use nature as a tool to find one’s self.

In the “Walden Experiment” we can see how Thoreau has found himself and in the conclusion he overviews this. I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. What Thoreau is saying is that if each of us try to live the life we have imagined, we will come closer to it than we normally would have thought possible. In a somewhat similar experiment to Thoreau’s, I spent time in new places and places I know. On these excursions, I would not bring technology. By doing this I’ve noticed things that I never would have thought about. I will attest to thoreau that I did indeed learn thing and see things I would not normally do and in the words of Thoreau, “Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.”

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How to Live Life as Shown in the Walden Experiment by Henry David Thoreau. (2023, Feb 16). Retrieved from

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