Opting Out Of Society In Henry David Thoreau's Walden

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The majority of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, is about the idea of opting out of society. In the chapter “Solitude” Thoreau describes how “[his] horizon bounded by woods all to [himself]” is beautiful and solely his. As he is enjoying nature Thoreau states, “There can be no very black melancholy to him who lives in the midst of Nature” (111). This theme of being alone and appreciating nature carries throughout the entirety of the book, all leading to the fact that Thoreau believes the best way to live would be without society. Thoreau cannot stand to pay his taxes because, “[he] did not pay a tax to, or recognize the authority of, the state which buys and sells men, women, and children” (145), leading to him being thrown in jail. Thoreau opted out of society and his penalty was jail. Though Thoreau is not upset about being thrown in jail, instead stating, “I preferred that society should run “amok” against me, it being the desperate party” (145) as though society is in the wrong for throwing him in jail because society is completely inept at handling itself. Thoreau lives for doing his own work and taking his own time to himself. Thoreau insists that the work week and the Sabbath should be switched, six days of rest and one day of work. All of these actions Thoreau carries out are blatant reversals of society’s function. What Thoreau is trying to show us is that society is corrupt and infects all human beings, and the only way to truly be free is to opt of out society and

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