From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Walden

Walden

  

by Henry David Thoreau

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

If you've read this book, it's pretty obvious what the title is all about. Walden is the name of the pond, just outside Concord, Massachusetts, where Thoreau lived alone for two years. Given that he's essentially writing an autobiography, he could have named his book Thoreau or Life and nobody would have batted an eye. So, why Walden?

Well, the pond is more than just a locale. It is, Thoreau frankly admits, a symbol, and a versatile one at that. (See "Pond in Winter," paragraph 6.) It represents both the inspiring beauty of untouched nature as well as man's capacity for a rich and spiritually fulfilling life, free from materialism. If he'd named the book Thoreau (or something of the sort), the focus would have been placed too much on man. As we know, Thoreau was all about nature. Originally published as Walden; or Life in the Woods, the revised 1862 title puts the novel's emphasis squarely on the pond, and thus, on nature itself.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement