Thoreau and Individuality

Topics: Henry David Thoreau, Concord, Massachusetts, Walden Pages: 4 (1221 words) Published: October 1, 2005
It is difficult to obtain true individuality. People always make an attempt to define themselves and almost always find that the image of conformity seems more influential than individualism. Still, there is a minority of people that have a unique way of rationalizing their ideas and enforcing them, regardless of what societal stance is on the issue. Henry David Thoreau is best known for his independent thinking and controversial ideas. In his book Walden, he searches for and finds individuality. This is best shown through his perspective on the faults of man. Thoreau is very critical on human lifestyle and has a passionate distaste for all the faults of mankind. He discusses man's love for idleness, and stresses that all of man's work should be meaningful and sufficient. Robert Cosbey takes it a step farther when he states, "Meaningless labor corrupts. Anything which is done only to get money is corrupting" (Cosbey 15). Thoreau infers many times in his book that superfluous work, especially when done in order to take advantage of other people and their money, is shameful. He believes that people should only do the work that is required of them and "demands justice for all who, by their lives and works, are a blessing to mankind" (Thoreau 100). He also discusses traveling, and how this notion that transportation is more efficient than simply walking on foot distorts the mind. "I have learned that the swiftest traveler goes afoot," Thoreau asserts (Thoreau 77). Thoreau logically insures the reader that it would take less time to travel a week on foot as compared to taking the train, stopping constantly, and then having to pay money for it. He claims that it is probable for a thinking human being to take the former. He also says that, when traveling, do not linger. "The man who goes alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till the other is ready and it may be a long time before they get off," proclaims Thoreau (Thoreau 96). It is useless to...

Cited: Abbott, Collamer M. "A Review of Walden." The Explicator, Winter, 1998,
Cosbey, Robert, Thoreau and the Modern World. Chicago: Roosevelt University,
Harding, Walter. "Henry David Thoreau," Concise Dictionary of American Literary
Biography: Colonization to the American Renaissance, 1640-1865, Gale,
And Company, Inc. 1974, pg. 298.
Van Doren, Mark. Henry David Thoreau; A Critical Study. New York: Russell and
Russell, 1961.
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