Materialism In Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond

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“Few people are capable of expressing opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment.” (Albert Einstein) Many people choose not to speak up in public because they feel their own point of view might not be widely shared. Although this may be true, there a few individuals are willingly able to express their thoughts on social issues. Henry David Thoreau’s Walden demonstrates how an individual, like himself, has the ability to confront the problems that manifest itself within a flawed society. Thoreau’s novel Walden chronics the two years he spent living in a cabin near the woods, next to Walden Pond. Many readers may assume that Walden is based on naturalism due to his surroundings in the wilderness, while others might…show more content…
Materialism is a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort rather than spiritual or intellectual things. Thoreau 's main concern is that the accumulation of wealth, and the desire to obtain it, distracts humans from recognizing their true essence, which is spirituality. “If he is employed the greater part of his life in obtaining gross necessaries and comforts merely, why should he have a better dwelling than the former?” (32) Thoreau illustrates how men are constantly working to get extra things in life and losing their freedom. Men are constant competing with one another to obtain more valuable thing without understanding the problem in doing so. To Thoreau, the necessities of life are only food, shelter, fuel, and basic clothing. Items otherwise are not needed. Thoreau also claims that “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.” (13) This passage also demonstrates how people are more concerned about accumulating nicer things and improving their social status that their own…show more content…
In the chapter Where I lived and what I lived for, he talks about his experience with a poet who decided to live on the farm. Thoreau believed the poet was much richer than the farmer and says “Why, the owner does not know it for many years when a poet has put his farm in rhyme, the most admirable kind of invisible fence, has fairly impounded it, milked it, skimmed it, and got all the cream, and left the farmer only the skimmed milk.” (196) Many readers tend to overlook what Thoreau is saying and miss what message he is trying to get across. In this passage in particular, Thoreau is trying to convey the importance of spiritual freedom. He puts emphasis on spiritual freedom above all, advising others that they should live freely, while being uncommitted for as long as possible. Thoreau also explains his main motive for coming to Walden Pond was to live away from a civilized environment and living in the woods, he is free from obligations, free from social boundaries, and does not have to be concerned about the constant pressure that entails with it. He is proud of his achievement, his escape from society and his new, self-reliant life. In his self-built cabin he can easily acquire his spiritual freedom that he wished for so much. Not depending on anyone but himself, he even claims that he is free from time now as well as from matter, which “Time is
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