While reading “Walden”, by Henry David Thoreau, you get a sense that he finds great comfort in nature; there was much symbolic, and spiritual meaning to be found in the wonders of the natural world, away from the strains of societal conformities, and consumerism. A main tenant of Transcendentalist writers was that independence, or self-reliance, was essential for man to attain their inherent greatness. For Thoreau, this independent, “Spartan-like” (Thoreau) lifestyle he observed during his time at Walden Pond, where living in simple solitude, attune with the natural world he seemed to find peace. This love of nature, and its deeper spiritual meaning was similar to the writing of Jonathan Edwards in his “Personal Narrative” where he writes: I often used to sit and view the moon for a long time; and in the day spent much time in viewing the clouds and sky, to behold the sweet glory of God in these things: in the mean time, singing forth, with a low voice, my contemplations of the Creator and Redeemer. And scarce any thing, among all the works of nature, was so sweet to me as thunder and lightning; formerly nothing had been so terrible to me.(Edwards)
Edwards sees God in nature, almost a Nature Religion, where God is behind every force of nature. Edwards went to nature to get closer to God, while Thoreau went to nature to find the inherent good within himself, through personal discovery
The Self-Fashioning that Thoreau exhibits in “Walden” is, in many ways, similar to that which Benjamin Franklin espoused throughout his autobiography, Franklin wrote: This library afforded me the means of improvement by constant study, for which I set apart an hour or two each day, and thus repair'd in some degree the loss of the learned education my father once intended for me. Reading was the only amusement I allow'd myself. I spent no time in taverns, games, or frolicks of any kind; and my industry in my business continu'd as indefatigable as it...
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