Rhetorical Analysis-“Reading” in Walden
Walden is a personal essay of Henry David Thoreau, as he goes into wood and writes his personal experiences by immersing himself in nature. By detaching himself from the society, Thoreau tried to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. His thoughts of understanding society or finding the “truth” are discussed on the third chapter “Reading.” This chapter constitutes a description of what Thoreau has gained from reading and an exhortation that the reader should seek for the vein of spiritual truth. Thoreau discusses the benefits of classical literature then argues that people of Concord should focus on adult’s education. He moans that most of the educated men in Concord disregard the classics of English literature and argues that townspeople should have spent money on building Lyceum instead of a townhouse. By using dichotomies, Thoreau differentiates himself from the townspeople, and then he strengthens his argument by deifying the work of great poets. Thoreau’s studying of classical literature or his attempt to find the truths is prevalent in chapter “Reading”, but his thoughts are especially well-presented in the first paragraph of the chapter. Thoreau begins his paragraph with personal thoughts saying if men were more deliberate in choosing their pursuits, they would all become “students” and observers,” because that it is in their “nature” and “destiny.” By choosing scientific words, such as “observers”, “students”, and “nature” to describe his personal thoughts, Thoreau risks charges of elitism. Science is a study of nature and it is based on observation and experiment, whereas philosophy and literature is a study based on personal thoughts and insights. This is contrast to what other most writers argue. Most other writers and philosophers argue that while it is possible to think we know the truth in a situation, it is impossible to be certain. Since we cannot be certain of...
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