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Walden
Walden
by Henry David Thoreau

Walden Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Man and the Natural World

Thanks to Walden, Thoreau is known as one of the first environmentalists. How did he get this title? Well, he interpreted nature in a way that hadn't been done before. For Thoreau, nature...

Life, Consciousness, and Existence

Does simply breathing qualify as living? Or does living require far, far more? In Walden, Thoreau examines his fellow man, and finds him wanting, lacking, unfulfilled: laboring day in and day out,...

Society and Class

In Walden, Thoreau frequently compares American society is to what were then considered "primitive" or "savage" societies, such as that of the Native Americans. Thoreau also juxtaposes our society...

Wisdom

For Thoreau, wisdom can't be found in college, or by calling Dr. Phil. Wisdom isn't the same as common sense. In fact, wisdom will often appear nonsensical to the unwise. And wisdom isn't the same...

Isolation

There's a big difference being lonely and being alone in Walden. Thoreau believes that the vast majority of people out there feel terribly lonely, even in the midst of crowded cities. Paradoxically...

Happiness

Walden is a joyful book. It's easy to get distracted by Thoreau's sometimes bully-like, preachy moments, but, if he's preaching, he's preaching the joy of life. He wants to jolt his readers out of...

Visions of America: Antebellum Period

Even though Thoreau may seem isolated way out on Walden Pond, he's still only about a mile away from the center of Concord, MA, the town famous for the "shot heard around the world" that started th...

Technology and Modernization

Walden is, among other things, a book about time. According to Thoreau, time has been hijacked by modernity, where technological advances such as the railroad and the telegraph have sped up life at...

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