Walden Essay

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Thoreau thus rejected the practices and assumptions of his neighbors in Concord with good cause. He had the courage to be as radical, or as eccentric, as he had to be. His protest, to use Whitehead's phrase in a new context, was "a protest on behalf of value." The goal he set for himself was compounded of utilitarian skills and spiritual ease. He envisioned a life of manly independence, which he understood to be the prerequisite for freedom and love, and of full experience of the ripeness of the moment lived.

I have said that in Walden we see Thoreau move toward and, I think, reach the goal he set for himself in the early part of the book. That movement is the great moral development of the book. And that moral development is central to the book's aesthetic excellence.

So much perceptive comment has been written in...

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This section contains 1,332 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Walden Study Guide
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Walden from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.