Diction in Walden

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In his popular book, Walden, Thoreau’s particular use of diction helps express his reverence for nature. This is highlighted in the opening paragraph of the chapter “Solitude” (page 103). Among the most significant strategies are connotative and specific diction, as well as a balance of abstract and concrete diction. The nouns, adjectives and verbs are rich in positive connotation, or reflect a sense of awe for the activity of the evening. Phrases such as “delicious evening”, “strange liberty in Nature” and “imbibes delight” demonstrate this attitude by associating the experience with positive and desirable traits. These particular phrases are not available to the senses; even “delicious” in context does not resemble a sense of taste, but rather an abstract sensation. Perhaps he is suggesting experiencing a state of well being that is attained through means other than the five senses, in his case through solitude amongst nature. Terms such as “bullfrogs, fox, skunk, rabbit, alder and poplar leaves” contrast this with concrete and specific language. By pinpointing details of his surroundings, exempting the generalization “creatures”, one can infer that he took the time to observe and name each entity that caught his attention. This reflects his respect for and knowledge of the Nature that he surrounds himself with; a simple mention of “trees” or “animals” as opposed to “alder and poplar” and “fox, skunk, rabbit” would have a lessened effect of demonstrating his care for the details of his surroundings. Concretely, these terms and others like “roars, trump, dash, and roam” appeal to the sights and sounds of the experience. The use of both abstract and concrete diction implicates a balance of conceptual ideas and physical occurrences, which does well to blend his perceptions with non-tangible feelings. In this way, he describes his surroundings and the positive effect it has on him; “all the elements are unusually congenial to me”. The verbs used to describe the...
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